Learn why you need a system to be successful and discover my top 3 must-have tools for professional and personal projects.

We all have great ideas from time to time. How awesome would it be to:

  • Go on vacation abroad?
  • Buy a brand new car?
  • Learn some craft?
  • Work out (more)?
  • Get a new certification?
  • Spend more time with your family?

But with our already busy life, it’s easy to postpone and forget such projects.

While it’d probably be impossible to make all your dreams come true in one lifetime, I’m sure there’s much more you can do than you think. The problem, however, is:

  • Not being able to get yourself organized.
  • Not having a system that allows you to keep track of your progress.

Depending on your goal, some systems work better than others.

Let me show you some of my favorite tools and how I use(d) them to achieve more.

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Learn how to start planning your days mindfully.

Why you must have a system in place

Different goals require different approaches.

Planning the daily family dinner takes much less energy than a celebration dinner, for example. Yet, for both, you still need to clarify things like:

  • guests
  • dishes to make
  • ingredients available
  • groceries needed
  • preparation time

It isn’t rocket science.

Things start to get a little bit more complex, though, when:

  • There’s a (long) timeline.
  • It involves others.
  • You need to make financial investments.

Unless you know where you are, what you need to do next and how to accomplish it; it’s almost impossible to get anywhere. Therefore, creating checklists, following up with all parties, evaluating progress and making adjustments become crucial.

How you are going to organize yourself depends a lot on your personal preferences, yet, having a system is mandatory if you want to be successful.

Read also these posts about organization:

Top-3 one-size-fits-all systems

There are countless options of systems on the market. Some can be very specific to one kind of goal like CoSchedule*, for instance. There are others, however, you can use for virtually any kind of project. 

Among these general systems, my personal favorites are (in no particular order):

  1. Evernote
  2. Trello
  3. Paper planners

1. Evernote

That I use Evernote* for blogging and home organization is nothing new. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

You can use Evernote* for all your projects!

The beautiful thing about Evernote* is that whether your strategy will be complex or simple, it’s all up to you.

Let’s say that for some projects you may need to collect a lot of information in advance. Let’s say for a home renovation, for example. Before starting with the work itself, you want to gather as many ideas as possible, including contractors and shop addresses.

With Evernote* you can dump all the gather information in one place. To retrieve it, you can use the search option, any predefined tags, or notebooks.

Besides texts, you can also save images and audio files. You can also share your notes with your spouse or architect, for example, which is much better than the endless exchange of emails.

Evernote* is also the perfect system if you want to keep track of:

Whether you choose the free or the paid version, Evernote* a must-have system for the successful follow-up and completion of any project.

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2. Trello

A picture is worth a thousand words.

By why is that?

What we see, generally leaves a deeper impression than any explanation. And this same rule also applies to projects.

And if you are a visual person, why not taking extra advantage of a tool such as Trello*?

Trello* works with a system of boards, lists, and cards. You can also:

  • use colored labels to differentiate your action items
  • add checklists
  • set due dates
  • attach images
  • insert comments

It also allows you to see your cards (those with an assigned due date) in a calendar format.

I use Trello* mainly for my professional projects:

  • Working with clients
  • Graphic design assignments
  • (Guest) blogging
  • Freelance work

You can create templates for recurring tasks to make sure you don’t miss a single step of the way without wasting time or guessing.

Like Evernote*, Trello* offers a free and a paid version and you can also use it to assign tasks to 3rd-parties and follow up their progress. Both also have mobile apps.

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3. Paper planners

If you had told me paper planners were a successful system to keep track of to-dos before my 40s, I’d probably call you crazy.

Yes, I had used paper planners before, but that was before me falling in love with the electronic life. What I discovered, however, is that life planners could become excellent productivity tools.

Among my favorite features when it comes to paper planners are:

  • I can take them with me everywhere.
  • I don’t need to worry about low battery or Internet connection.
  • Planners are also a creativity medium (decoration)
  • They are cute, period!

I use three paper planes at the moment and they’re all from Erin Condren:

  • vertical for to-dos
  • hourly for appointments
  • horizontal for daily review

The thing that attracts me to EC Life Planners the most is their quality. Yes, they look beautiful, but even after caring them around for months, they still look like new. Yet, you can also change their cover if you want to.

For those who love customization, EC Life Planners is THE best option for you.

If you haven’t had the chance to try them, click here for $10 off on your purchase.

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"The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration." - Thomas A. Edison

Choosing the best system for you

One of the recommendations I give my clients about choosing a system involves taking into consideration:

  • your budget
  • personal preference
  • the scope of your projects

Remember that it doesn’t matter how incredible your system is, the work still has to be done.

Success comes from crossing things off a list, not by listing them.

If the simple idea of setting planning already scares you, please join my free email course 5 Days To Mindful Planning. It’s the perfect step to get things started.

Once you define your planning strategy, you’ll need systems to be successful in a productive way without wasting time and money, or stressing out.

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Learn how to start planning your days mindfully.

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In your opinion, which system do you need to be successful?

Read also these posts about planning:

Please check the list of link parties I join here.

Why You Need To Have a System To Be Successful.

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*Please note that some of the links in this list are affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you any extra, but I earn a commission if you decide to purchase. Regardless of whether or not I receive a commission, I only recommend products that I personally use and sincerely recommend. Affiliate links will be noted by an asterisk.*

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Debbie Rodrigues
Debbie Rodrigues is a Productivity Expert. She helps busy career women create a productive routine that fits their lifestyle. She does this through coaching, online courses and through the blog debbieinshape.com.