One the biggest hangups that appears to hold people back from hitting goals and achieving success is the confusion that surrounds strategies, tools, and systems. People tend to only focus on one of these three when they plot out a new goal or idea. I think the best way to explain my thoughts is to give some examples. Here we go.
Example 1: Finances and Budget
Lets say you want to start keeping track of your spending and your finances better.
Strategy: I'm going to determine what my different spending categories are and plan out how much money I can allocate to each of those categories in order to ensure that I can pay myself (save) sufficient to hit my financial goals.
Tool: I'm going to download a new app on my phone, buy a new notebook, or access the reporting dashboard on my online banking so that I can see my spending and see if I'm in line with my strategy.
System: I will check my tool each week or day or month and review where I'm at against my budget and goals so that I can make adjustments.
With this example I talk to a lot of people who have this type of financial goal but they generally only consider one of the three components. You must have all three in order to succeed.
Example 2: To-Do Lists and Productivity
Lets say you want to use a to do list in order to make sure you get everything done and to better prioritize your many tasks.
Strategy: I'm going to make sure everything I need to do makes it onto my task list. I will use the list as a way to mind dump my stress and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Tool: I'm going to carry around a notebook, download an app on my phone, or record voice notes on a audio recorder.
System: I will open and review my task list during breakfast and lunch as well as during other breaks during the day when I have 15 minutes time blocks that can be allocated to a task.
Example 3: I Want My Children to Learn to Clean Up
Strategy: I'm going to find a way to give my children an incentive to clean up while teaching the importance of order and cleanliness.
Tool: I will make a sticker chart where they get an ice cream treat when they clean up 10 times or I'm going to dedicate 15 minutes at the end of each day before bedtime for picking up.
System: On a daily basis we will sit down as a family and review how we did.
How else do you see these three components playing together in what you do? Do you often employ these without thinking about it? Where else can we apply this formula to achieve increased productivity?