Productive Prioritization: Tools to Build Your System | Learn with Trello | Brian Cervino | Skillshare

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Productive Prioritization: Tools to Build Your System | Learn with Trello

teacher avatar Brian Cervino, Product Marketing Manager at Trello

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      What is Productivity


    • 3.

      Goals, Priorities & Execution


    • 4.

      How to Prioritize


    • 5.

      Time Management


    • 6.

      Your Toolkit


    • 7.

      Productivity Through Trello


    • 8.



    • 9.

      More Classes on Productivity


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About This Class

Productivity isn't just about "getting things done." It's about getting the right things done. 

In this 30-minute class, join Trello's own Brian Cervino as he shares tools, tactics and tips to make your day more productive, so you and your team can collaborate better and accomplish all of your goals with maximum success. You’ll learn to:

  • Strategically prioritize and execute your goals
  • Use productivity methods to work collaboratively with your team
  • Personalize your workflow to maximize your productivity

Learning these foundational tools will transform your day, so you can tackle your workday and personal projects with ease.

Meet Your Teacher

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Brian Cervino

Product Marketing Manager at Trello


Brian is the Product Marketing Manager at Trello. When he's not tweeting cat gifs and launching new product features, he gets into songwriting, coffee, and cooking.

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1. Introduction: Hey, my name is Brian Cervino. I'm the product marketing manager over at Trello. So, Trello is a visual collaboration tool that allows anyone to organize any projects with anyone, anywhere in the world. On my day to day, I work with the product sales and marketing teams to help develop and release new features. Today's course is all about productivity and making sure you're getting done not only what you need to do, but also what you want to do. We're going to dive into the tools that are really going to change your day to day, help you build a better workflow, help you collaborate better routines, and communicate more effectively, so that not only you'd be getting more done than you ever did before, you'll be getting it done with more success. So, this class is geared for anyone that wants to not only learn the philosophies behind how to be more productive, but also see those tools in action, current technological trends and apps that are actually making it easier to be more productive in your day to day life. Having a strong productivity system is important not only in my work life at Trello, whether I'm working with content management or releasing any marketing campaign, but also my personal life when I'm working on music with clients or I'm planning a vacation or a party or even just organizing my favorite recipes. Let's get started by diving into exactly what is productivity. 2. What is Productivity: So I guess the $1 million question here is, what is productivity? Of course, you've heard it defined by so many people in so many ways. Ultimately, productivity is not about just getting things done, but it's about making sure that you're getting the right things done in the right time frame in successful and effective way. So this starts by setting realistic goals, breaking those goals down into actionable tasks, and the end of it all, asking yourself, did I accomplish something meaningful in what I set out to do? To me, personally, productivity means that I only have a finite amount of time, a finite resources. But I've a lot I want to do with my life. I have a lot of career ambitions. I have a lot of personal life ambitions. I'm working with a lot of people all the time, and I just want to make sure that I see through what I set out to do. Having a good productivity system inorder and effective workflow that you enjoy is great not only for work, whether it's project management or starting a new business or launching a side project, it's also really great for your personal life. Maybe you're just planning a wedding or planning a holiday party. Being productive means you'll be able to manage all the time in your life better and get more done. At this point, I'd like to turn things to you and have you ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish? How would you like to get more things done in your life? What goals do you want to start setting so that you can fulfill and achieve all the projects that you set out to do? So, next up, we're going to dive deep into goal-setting, prioritization of tasks to achieve those goals, and expert time management. 3. Goals, Priorities & Execution: So, the question is how do we start being productive? The first thing is we're going to want to set up the goals that we want to achieve. Whether you are going to prioritize the tasks involved in achieving this goal, breaking it down step-by-step into actionable items, and we're going to execute within a set timeline. The first thing we want to do is ask ourselves, what is the goal that we want to achieve? Ideally, this is the thing that we're truly passionate about, something that we want to wake up tackle every morning, something that we know and care about. So, we're going to start by visualizing what that goal is and the finish line. From there, we're going to break it back and consider all the tasks and steps to get to that goal. So, making an effective plan is not only about what I want to do on a day-to-day basis, but also what I want to be in the long run. So, write down every step along the way and also write down the big picture. Reference this every day so that it becomes a part of your subconscious thought. This will help improve your confidence that you can achieve this goal and help you perform tasks more effectively. When you set a goal and you start working on the tasks to achieve that goal, it's oftentimes you will lose perspective and no longer understand the why of what you're trying to achieve. Make sure that you take time to step back and reflect, and understand that once allows a mundane task is a part of a larger project that is going to bring a lot of fulfillment to your life. Another thing to recognize is that achieving your goals often requires collaboration with others. The sooner that you recognize your strengths and weaknesses, it'll be easier to delegate the tasks of what you might not achieve as well to others to help fulfill your greater vision. It's also always important to constantly improve. Not only does this mean improving the steps it takes to achieve your goal or your productivity system or even just yourself. By knowing not only the why of why you want to achieve this goal, improving the process along the way will help us not only get to that point, but perhaps even exceed that goal and do even better than we ever set out to do. So, let's take a moment right now and I want you to jot down one goal that you'd like to achieve. This could be professional or personal. Next up, we're going to talk about how to break that down into tasks and prioritize those tasks. Later on the class, I'm going to walk through how I'm going to break down the tasks of achieving my personal goal, which is to open up a cafe. 4. How to Prioritize: So, what does it mean to prioritize? Prioritization means having a purpose-driven path. It's about understanding what you want to do, understanding the tasks that it takes to get there, be able to break those tasks down into actionable steps, and making sure you delegate any other things that get in the way. Unfortunately, when it comes to prioritization and productivity, a lot of systems often fail. One reason is because we often don't understand the why behind what we're doing, but productivity systems and prioritization often fails because of the individual. A big reason here is fear. Fear is often a reason that we are unable to properly prioritize and get task accomplish. Fear can keep us in a loop of self-doubt, which hinders productivity. So, once we face our fears, it's much easier to move forward and accomplish more. Another reason why a lot of productivity systems fail, is because we often have too much on our plates, we have to-do lists that are way too long. So, let's look at a few techniques that help you prioritize what you have to do and make sure that you're doing the tasks that are going to have the most impact. One technique is to apply the 80/20 rule when planning out the tasks to do. The 80/20 rule states that 20 percent of your tasks are probably going to have 80 percent of the impact. So, by addressing these tasks first and prioritizing them, you can let other tasks that might not be as impactful fall by the wayside or you can assign them to someone else. So, one way I like to think about the 80/20 rule in my life is considering you don't only have so much time and energy. So, if I have two tasks, let's say, one is to make a video that's maybe going to reach 100 people versus a well-constructed newsletter that might reach millions of people, what is going to have the most impact? For me, it'll be crafting that newsletter and spending a little more time and effort on that, because I know that's going to have a much larger audience and it's going to be more valuable use of my time. You may have also heard of the 80/20 rule when it comes to sales in the business world, in that 80 percent of your profits will come from 20 percent of your customers. So, you want to spend your time nurturing those 20 percent of your customers that are going to bring in the most profits for your company. You should think of your tasks and prioritization of tasks in that way because often, a lot of tasks are going have diminishing returns. So, you should focus your time wisely on the 20 percent of tasks that are going to have the biggest impact on what you're trying to do. So, there are lots of prioritization methods. One of my favorites is actually the rule of five, which was developed by one of our founders, Joel Spolsky. The concept behind that, is that you never have more than five things at a time in your to-do list. There should be two tasks that we're working on right now, two tasks that we plan on working on next, and one task that people might be expecting us to work on, we're actually not planning on working on. While that might seem counterintuitive, the idea behind that is to be honest with ourselves about what we might not be doing, but also to be honest with our teammates. This also allows it to be easier to delegate tasks to other people that might be able to pick up that task that you're just not going to get to. So, prioritizing and working on only two things at once is really important because it makes good use of our limited mental resources. It also prevents us from getting too much anxiety from having too much to do. Also, if we have too many items on our to-do lists, then we're constantly jumping back and forth and we have contact switching, which essentially makes us less effective and less productive workers. So, now that we actually have a manageable to-do list then we're not overwhelmed with anxiety of too much to do, let's actually jump into how we can better time manage to get those tasks done. 5. Time Management: The first technique that many people find really useful is called the Pomodoro Technique, and what this means is that you're blocking out 25 minutes of uninterrupted focus. While that does seem easy, it's actually way harder than you think. Be reasonable with yourself and try starting with just one block a day of 25 minutes of uninterrupted focus. This means heads down, pick a task that can be accomplished in 25 minutes and slowly work on that task, letting nothing else creep in from the outside. If you're able to do that, slowly expand to more and more Pomodoro sessions of 25 blocks. The next technique is called timeboxing and basically we all know this too well that it's way too easy to fall into a 60, 80-hour work week because there's always just so much to get done but timeboxing sets limits. It says, "I'm only going to work 35 or 40 hours a week, and I'm going to get my tasks done in that time." By working within that timeframe, you're going to be more effective because you're driven to do so and also you're not going to overextend yourself by working an 80-hour week, where you just wind up getting too tired and do subpar work. Another important technique is to follow your body's ultradian rhythm. The ultradian rhythm is made up of 90 to 120 minutes cycles where you're going to be at peak productivity followed by 20-minute lulls. What you want to do is focus on your most difficult tasks during your most productive cycles and then the less difficult, less mentally intensive tasks during those 20-minute lulls. So, the next question is how do we find our ultradian rhythm? So, what you want to do is log and score on a scale of 1-10 your focus, energy and motivation for every waking hour, every day for three weeks. After three weeks, you can review your logs and you'll start to notice trends in your scores which will enable you to zone in on your most productive hours and your most productive days. These are prior the days that you should be focusing on your hardest tasks. It's also good to keep a journal of when you're feeling most energetic and productive and making notes of any circumstances that might have impacted that day. For instance, maybe you had a cold or maybe you felt lethargic after eating for lunch or maybe you felt a perk after an afternoon coffee break. All these things can help you dial in once again on your most productive hours and times to be working. In the end, take all these findings to figure out when you're most productive. This might not be nine-to-five schedule. Maybe you find out that you're actually a creative night owl. The important thing is that you're working when you're going to work best and you're not wasting your time so that the rest of your time you can spend working on other things in your life. When trying to manage your time effectively, it's always really important to know that you shouldn't be too hard on yourself. You have to be forgiving. Not all hours are the same. You might have an amazing productive hour one moment and the next one might be a dud. But by being hard on yourself and feeling guilty about that dud hour, that just means that you're going to carry over the lack of productivity into the next hour. Understand that you have productive moments and less productive moments and harness the productive moments to get as much done as possible. One important tip from productivity pro Jess Martin is to create margins and this means don't create such a rigid schedule that you can't let productive moments flow into the next. By having too rigid of a schedule, you're going to instantly create burnout because you're not going to allow for breaks or you're not going to allow for creative thought to continue until its natural end. I'm sure you've heard it time and again but honestly creating a work-life balance is key. Working 80 plus hours a week is going to burn you out. You need to step away from the work and let your brain recharge. Doing a creative activity, going for a walk, exercising, these are ways that you can come back to your work and your tasks, replenish and recharged and be able to approach them with a new angle. Another good way to prioritize your tasks is to set up calendar reminders that help break up big tasks into smaller tasks. The calendar reminders will keep you on focus and help you manage your time better. So, I know that's a lot of tips and techniques for managing time. Ultimately, you have to come up with a system that works best for you. Try things, see what works what doesn't. For me I love a mix of the Pomodoro heads-down 25-minute blocks to get tasks done and I also really love timeboxing making sure that I limit my work to certain area of my life but still have time to recharge my brain and come back to my tasks with a fresh perspective, a fresh energy and a fresh mindset. So, now let's dive into some of the tools that are actually going to help you prioritize your tasks and manage your time and get things done. 6. Your Toolkit: There are a lot of tools out there that'll help you enhance your productivity, get more done, and collaborate with your team. In this lesson, I'm going to show you some of my favorite tools and explain why they're so effective. Of course, one of those tools is Trello. To me, there's basically nothing more satisfying than having a list of checklist items that I need to accomplish and crossing each one off as I finish that. Now whether you're using glue, pen, and paper, which to me I love the tactile feel or an app to accomplish this. Breaking down these items into manageable tasks that we can cross off, helps us to not feel too overloaded with work. Plus having smaller actionable tasks, means that we get to get more done in a day and cross more things off our lists, which actually releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine not only gives us that sense of satisfaction and euphoria, but then actually motivates us to accomplish more. Another example of a media to do use comes up with team meetings. Like a checklist that structures what you're going to do from day to day or week to week, a meeting agenda should be well-defined with a structured list of topics to hit during that meeting. Every meeting should have a list of what is to be discussed and who is leading discussion on that topic. Defining the topics to be covered means there's a definitive end to the meeting. When all the topics have been discussed, no one's time is wasted because of a lack of agenda. So while this could be just a list on a sheet of paper or on a whiteboard or even like a shared document, we find it most effective to use a Trello board. So in Trello, we create a list for everything we want to discuss during the next meeting. We start with a meeting lead who's going to run through and keep the meeting flowing. Everyone's going to create a card on the list for an item they'd like to discuss and add themselves to that card. People that want to discuss a topic during a meeting can add more information on cards and provide more information and contacts to the members of the team. As topics are covered, they can be removed from the list, and once there are no more cards on the list, we know that the meeting is done. Of course, when it comes to getting to-do list items done, that means you need to focus. Focusing is key to productivity. One really awesome tool is OneTab. What OneTab does is it takes all the open tabs you have in your browser and combines them into one list on one tab. This is really important because by having the distractions of all those tabs open, means that you're constantly going to be looking up those tabs thinking about other things that need to get done and not focusing on the task at hand. By shrinking all those open browser tabs into one list, keeps you focused on a task you need to do without the constant reminder of all the other tasks that come next. Three other really cool tools are Flipboard, Moment, and Offtime. These are great ways to silence distractions on your phone and in your browser, and make sure that you're not missing out any key information in your life. Of course, I know there's a lot to take in, so that's why these will all be available. The links to these tools and more in the class resources section. When it comes to you in the moment, team communication, and brainstorming sessions, I love to use Slack. Slack is a really great because it allows me to communicate in the moment with my globally distributed team. So no matter where anyone is, we can have a fluid conversation and we can create actionable items and go over tasks and projects that we're working on and then move those projects and tasks over to a project management tool like Trello. Obviously, when it comes to effective project management, staying productive with my team and collaborating and getting things done, I like to use Trello. The great thing about a tool like Trello is that it allows me to get a visual perspective on my project and at a glance see what tasks are being worked on, who's working out what task, and the status of where every task is in my pipeline. So in this example here, we're looking at the development of an app called Barker, which is a social network for dogs. As you can see, I can see what features we want to build, what's in development right now, the deadlines for when we're planning on developing those, and who's doing what. We also have what's being designed, what's being tested, and what's actually been released. We can also keep track of any research we've done, and really just looking at this board, I know the status and state of every single task that is being worked on by my team. Another great tools, especially for those working with clients, is Harvest. Harvest allows you to track time and keep track of how much time you're spending on each task. What's really cool is you can use it as a productivity hack. Because if you tasks that you're repeating regularly and you're keeping track of time, you can see if you're spending more time or less time than you should and maybe be able to reconsider how you can be more effective in getting the task done, based on the amount of time it's taking. Of course, with all these tools for personal and team productivity, it's important to set up a workflow so that these tools work together so that you're maximizing how you get things done with yourself and with your team. Essentially, it's important to consider what tools are most effective for communicating certain things. If it's in the moment, you might want to be in an app like Slack. If it's more a long term project planning, you might want to use Trello to break down those tasks because they're going to take a longer period of time. It's also for your day to day, you might want to have a checklist going. All these tools can work together to get things done. So it's really important to set expectations for how you want to be communicated with and how to communicate with others within these apps so that you maintain a productive workday. You're able to get things done on a personal level but also get things done with your team. This could be letting people know in Slack that you're going to go into "Do not disturb" mode so that you can get more done and go heads down on a task. It also means letting people know that you are using apps to silence phone notifications in case someone is expecting to reach you on that level. With tools like Trello, it's really useful to set due dates on cards that you can manage expectations for one task when you're finished. It's also great to be able to check in with people by using things like AtMentions and assigning people to cards so that you can ping people when necessary and make sure that the person that's assigned to a task is working on a task. By having a set of tools to collaborate and communicate effectively as a team and build a focus and be productive as an individual, means that you're not going to be working in silos in doubling your efforts, which means, ultimately, you're going to have a more productive and successful company. 7. Productivity Through Trello: So, by now, we've learned how to set our goals, prioritize our tasks, and effectively time manage. We've also got into a lot of tools that will help us be more productive in our day-to-day work life, and some tips and techniques for maintaining that productivity. Right now, I want to bring that altogether and show you how we can achieve one of our goals, which for me is to start a business, a cafe using Trello. Now, a lot of the concepts here can be used with any tool of your choice, but I'm going to show you how we can do this in Trello. So, like I said, my goal is to start a cafe. So, what I'm going to do is start by creating a Trello board to achieve this goal. I'm going to name my Trello board after my goal or project. So, I'm going to call this start a business cafe. So, what we have here is a blank Trello board. This is essentially a blank canvas, where we can lay out our tasks we need to do to accomplish our goal. So, I'm going to start by creating lists, and lists are going to create the workflow that our task will move through. I am going to have a couple of things to research, I am going too have some tasks I'm going to need to do, I want to see when those tasks are being worked on with doing list, and I want to see when those tasks are going to be done. Now that I have my list of my workflow, what I want to do is actually create some cards. Cards are the fundamental unit of a Trello board, and they can symbolize tasks or hold information that I want to access later. So, I'm going to add some cards to my board for what I want to research. That'll be funding, investors and crowdsourcing for my business. Of course, if you've already created a list of tasks that you want to accomplish in maybe a spreadsheet or in a Google Doc, you can always import that task list really easily into Trello. So, what do you want to do is simply highlight your list from your other app and paste that into a new Trello card, and then from there you can break that out into individual tasks. So, as you can see here, I have set up 20 tasks that I'm going to need to accomplish to launch my cafe. As I mentioned earlier, this is probably way more than five things to do. So, what I'm going to do, is collaborate with some people and bring in some professionals to help me launch my cafe. So, I'm going to add some numbers to my board. I'm going to click add members and I m going to add some people to my board to collaborate with on this project. So, now that I've added my members to my board, I'm going to start delegating them the tasks. So, I'm just going to drag a member over to add and undercard to assign them to that task. What's great about Trello is that whenever someone's assigned to a task, they'll get a notification in Trello and via email. This way, they know to hop into the Trello board and see what task they've been assigned, so that they can start working on it right away. Of Of course, some tasks might be more complex than others, so you can always assign as many people as need be to those tasks. Writing out a business plan is going to take a couple of people and I m going to need my legal team to incorporate. So, I'm going to assign three people to that task. There's no limit. We want to make sure that the amount of people who are assigned to a task that's going take to get that task done in the reasonable amount of time that we set to accomplish this task. So, now as you can see, originally we had a lot of things to do that would have been overwhelming, but now all these tasks are broken up into manageable chunks that each person on my team can take and finish. This will slowly get us to building our cafe and launching and opening our cafe. So, next I want to set some deadlines for these tasks and by doing that, I'm going to add a due date to the card. So, I can click a card to open up a card. As you can see, there's a lot more information that can either be added to the card in the card description or in a comment and there's a lot of actions we can take. So, what am going to do, is I'm going to click due date, and I am going to set a due date for July 29th and save that to this card. In this way, my teammates, Marqeus and Priscilla will know that by July 29th, we have to have this business plan written and ready for our investors to see. Since some of these tasks are a little more complex, I want to break them up into individual steps. For instance, building a website. Building a website is not something that's going to get done in a day. There's lot of subtasks involved in that. So, I'm going to create a checklist on the card, and I can break up the steps they require us to take to build a website. So, we're going to do a mockup wireframe. We are going to make some designs. We are going to develop it, and we're going to launch it, which my teammates can now work on and will feel overwhelmed by just having to just build a website in one go. They can step-by-step go through the checklist and accomplish all the tasks necessary to get this website launched. As they complete checklist items, they can check them off, and as we see, there's a progress bar that shows how close we are to finishing that task. We are all done. That bar is green and everyone is going to be really happy that the website is ready to launch. So far, we've set our goal of opening a cafe and built that out into a Trello board. We've broken up all the tasks and steps involved into Trello cards, we've delegated those tasks to the team. I've shown how you can assign due dates to the cards to prioritize when those tasks should be completed, and we've added checklists to cards to break up those big tasks into smaller manageable tasks. Now, let's start putting these tasks into motion. As you can see, tasks are now moving from to do, to doing, to done. I can open a card in the done list, and see that all the items have been checked off. I can also open a card in my doing list, such as the create bylaws, and I can see that the bylaws that are being worked on had been attached to this card and I can easily jump into them and look at the bylaws. I can @ mentioned, my board member who's assigned to this task Andre and ask, how are things coming along to check in. This way, we can communicate in real time and I can get feedback to see if he needs help, if there's any roadblocks, if things are progressing along, and we hope to hit this due date of July 18th. You might also notice that I've applied some labels to these cards. These labels are for different teams that are working in different tasks, such as legal, marketing, finance, and operations. On what's really great is that now at a glance, I can look at my board and make sure that no teams are overwhelmed with work or that they have too much either on their plate at the moment. This is just another way of visualizing not only what members are doing what tasks, but what teams are doing what tasks. So, I can get an overview of who's doing what and what departments are doing what to accomplish our goals and get these tasks done. Another great feature of Trello, is that you can not only see when cards are in their various lists states from like to do, doing, done or on their way through your pipeline to completion, but you can also view cards with due dates on them in a calendar view. By looking at things in a calendar view, I get a different perspective as to whether or not I'm going to be hitting my deadlines. Today is the 15th and I can look at the weeks ahead and see what cards need to be accomplished. For instance, maybe I realize that I'm not going to hit this target and we need to give another day on this project, so I'm going to move it over on my calendar and update the due date on that card to the 19th. As I mentioned earlier, it's really important to prioritize the tasks. One thing with Trello is you can drag cards on a list to prioritize them. So, whatever I need to move up first to the top of the list, my team will know are the most important tasks that we need to accomplish first and then they can take those tasks and move them into doing to start work on those tasks. Another key concept as a manager or CEO or team lead, is just making sure that no one has too much on their plate. So, what I can do is actually I can easily filter my board and see who's assigned to what tasks and quickly see how many tasks they have. So, this is a great way to see who might have a lot on their plate and who might have some bandwidth to get more stuff done. As you can see, Amy only as one card that she's doing right now, but Andre has about three tasks that he's doing. So, what I can do is I can assign Amy to one of Andre's tasks, remove Andre from that card, and lighten up is load a little bit. As I mentioned earlier, labels are great way to add more visual data to a board. What's really cool is, let's say our operations team has a meeting, using the filter feature, they can easily see where the operations cards are and they could see whats into doing, doing, and done. Here, we see that operations has a lot to do and they haven't gotten much done. So, maybe we can address what the roadblocks are, maybe we need to hire more staff or maybe the team is not as productive because someone's been out sick or something. So, lets me hone in and maybe what tasks are not getting done and what's getting done and making sure that my team is efficient and productive and that we're always moving things along to achieve our goal. As you can see, we use Trello to implement some of these productivity and collaboration tips, and techniques mentioned earlier. We've set our goal, we set the tasks needed to accomplish that goal, we've assigned and delegated those tasks, set deadlines for those tasks, and we've moved those tasks along from to do, to doing, to done, to achieving the goal of opening our cafe. 8. Conclusion: I want to thank you so much for taking this class. I know we've covered a lot of ground and a lot of information. We've put a lot of stuff in the class resources and as a bonus, there's even additional information for you about how to maximize your productivity in your office by your work environment and how to maintain productivity as a digital nomad. At the end of the day though, we want to ask ourselves these five questions to make sure that we're maximizing personal productivity. Are you getting things done before deadlines? Are you exceeding your goals and going above and beyond what you set out to do? Are you getting the feedback you want from your clients and your team when you finish a project? Are you happy and satisfied with the work that you're doing? Is you're productivity system working for you? In parting, I hope that you achieve every goal that you set out to in your life, whether that's for work or personal. I hope you maintain a productive and fruitful life and get everything done that you set out to do. 9. More Classes on Productivity: