• Alia Rajab

Using productivity systems to help you achieve your goals.

With January coming up, many of us will be aiming to be more productive and will likely be setting a number of goals to be achieved within the new year. Without a system, however, it’s difficult to maintain focus and motivation on your goals, especially over the long term.

There are many components to a productivity system, but according to productivity expert Dan Irvin, the top 3 are mindset, tools, and accountability. The most important of these is mindset – without a clear direction of where you want to go, and knowing what you want to achieve or why, the latter two are meaningless. A solid grounding in why you want to achieve your goals, and knowing what your vision is will set the foundation for the other components in your productivity system.

How do you develop a mindset that will set you up for success?

Aim to create an environment – both physical and mental – in which you can be successful. This means understanding how you work best, and knowing what you need to do to create an environment for maximum productivity. For example, maybe you’re a person who needs a neat and tidy space in order to think clearly and work efficiently. In that case, you’d want to take time out to intentionally create a physical space where there is order and neatness.

Whatever your work style, it’s important to be honest with yourself about your needs when it comes to your physical work space. This is especially relevant with the rise of work-from-home arrangements. Many of us will be working from home for the foreseeable future, so it makes sense to invest some time into figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and coming up with creative solutions to some of the challenges we find ourselves facing when working from home.

A positive mental environment looks like being clear on what you want to achieve, both in the long term and short term. By creating a framework, you’ll know what you need to focus on each week, and each day to get toward your goal. For example, if you have a goal you will take 3 months to complete, you can break this down into 12 weeks; each week, focus on daily tasks that will bring you closer to your goal. Putting smaller milestones in place on the way to achieving bigger goals can keep you motivated, and help you stay focused.


Dan also talks about a new type of framework through which we can put our goals to ensure that they actually get met. We’ve all heard of SMART goals, but Dan has developed a system known as SMARTEST goals.

Specific: avoid vague or general goals. For example, instead of saying you want to make more money, put a dollar amount to the goal so that you know exactly what you’re aiming toward.

Measurable: the goal needs to be quantifiable, as in the example above. If it’s difficult to quantify, think of what the necessary actions are that can be quantified in order to achieve a certain result.

Actionable: when writing down your goal, start with an action verb. Reading it should make you want to move into action.

Risky: setting goals that are a little uncomfortable can help you grow. It should be doable, yet challenging. After you’ve finished the goal setting process, come back to this point, and see where you can push yourself a little.

Time-specific: the goal should have a specific date by which you want to achieve it.

Exciting: whatever you’re working toward should make you look forward to the future, and get you excited about actually doing it.

Solve a pain point: your goal should solve a pain point of yours or someone else. This gives the goal purpose and makes it all the more meaningful to you; it can be a powerful motivator to help keep you on track.

Tracking method: all goals needs to be tracked in order to make sure that you’re actually on your way to achieving them. It’s a way of keeping yourself accountable to your goals and can help you re-evaluate your strategies and help you see where you might need to make changes to the way you’re approaching your goal.

Having a system is key to maintaining productivity levels. There are a multitude of benefits to writing down your goals, getting really specific about them, and passing them through a framework such as the SMARTEST framework to ensure not only that you stay on track with your goals, but that they are doable and inspiring in the first place.

Putting in the time and effort to get clear on your goals, and more importantly the ‘why’ behind them, and following a system, can help set you up for success on the patch to achieving your goals.

For more on this, check out our podcast episode with Dan Irvin.

Written by Alia Rajab

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