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How the “System Approach” Surpasses the “Tool Approach” to Craft Your Perfect Productivity Tool Stack


It might sound a bit extreme, but to boost your productivity, you need to adopt a “killer” mindset.

This means ruthlessly eliminating any ineffective processes, strategies, or tactics.

It’s about a fundamental shift in thinking, moving from familiar approaches to something dramatically different. Because continuing with the same old methods will only yield the same results.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re grappling with issues like these:

  • Are you tired of wasting time gathering information from various sources?

  • Do you feel unproductive because you’re constantly hopping between different apps?

  • Is it a struggle to focus and channel your time and energy into what really matters?

To break free from your current situation, you must commit to a new approach.

Let’s explore, step by step, how you can navigate your way out of this. Rest assured, there is light at the end of this tunnel.

Common but Flawed: How Busy Professionals Misbuild Their Tool Stack

At the Paperless Movement®, we interact with thousands of busy professionals each month, all on a quest to craft their perfect productivity tool stack.

What we’ve noticed is a common pattern in their process. They’re all using what we’ve termed the “Tool Approach.”

Picture this: someone needs to improve their task management. Their first instinct? Head straight to Google or an AI search tool and type in “the best task management tool.”

Here’s where the catch lies.

While Google and AI are smart, they aren’t quite wise at uncovering the underlying needs of these busy professionals. If these search engines could truly discern their actual requirements, the query would look more like a desperate shout: “I need a solution to get things done efficiently – I can’t continue like this!”

But, given the limitations of these technologies, they end up presenting a list of tools primarily labeled as “Task Management.”

This leads our busy professional on a frustrating, often endless journey: downloading various tools, testing each one, and frequently ending up in a situation that’s worse than where they started.

The result? Frustration, anxiety, stress, anger… Well, you know the story…

But it’s not your fault if you find yourself in this scenario.

First, you’re not alone in this struggle.

Second, it’s not your fault if no one has shown you a different, more effective approach: What we call the “System Approach.”

This approach shifts the focus from just choosing tools to creating an integrated system tailored to your specific needs.

Meet the “System Approach”

At the Paperless Movement®, we help busy professionals create an effective productivity system end to end, always finishing with a tailor-made and perfect tool stack.

Our approach is unique: we don’t just focus on picking tools for their features.

Instead, we believe in the “System Approach”.

This means you first build a solid system tailored to your needs, and then select the best tools to support it.

Now, you may wonder: “How the hell do I build a “System”?

Don’t worry. It’s a common question, and we have a clear, easy-to-follow answer for you.

Just keep reading to discover how straightforward it can be.

How to make the “System Approach” Work

First, it’s important to see yourself as a system.

That’s why, if you build systems around you, everything works and runs smoothly. As simple as that.

A system can be defined as “a set of interconnected elements or components that operate together to form a unified whole. These elements can be physical objects, activities, or ideas, and they interact with each other over time to achieve a common purpose.”

Now, let’s apply this to task management.

Instead of just considering several tools for managing tasks, shift your perspective to a more holistic approach: a “Task Management System”.

This isn’t just a tool. It goes beyond, as it’s a comprehensive way to handle your tasks.

A good Task Management System should have these key features:

  1. Easy Task Capture: You should be able to note down tasks effortlessly.

  2. Context Addition: This allows you to add details to each task, making it easier to execute and complete.

  3. Flexible Prioritization: You can prioritize tasks based on different criteria like urgency, energy levels, or business impact. For a deeper understanding of prioritization, you might want to look into “The Execution Beast: The Perfect Mental Model to Plan, Execute, and Achieve Your Goals.”

  4. Planning Capability: It’s crucial to schedule when you will carry out your tasks.

  5. Task Completion: The ultimate goal is to get things done effectively.

By thinking like a system, you’ll realize that relying on a single tool isn’t enough for true productivity.

The idea of “one app to rule them all” is not practical.

Different tools excel in different areas, and by combining their strengths, you can become incredibly productive.

To achieve this, view your task management as a system with inputs (tasks to be done), workflows (how you process these tasks), and outputs (completed tasks).

The “System Approach” will transform your mindset and the way you handle your tasks and boost your productivity.

The Main Outcome of “The System Approach”

Understanding “The System Approach” is a game-changer.

It’s about realizing that you can harness various tools within your task management system, which frees you up, eliminates friction, and optimizes not just each tool but also your time.

Imagine my task management system. It’s a mix of Superhuman, Slack, Todoist, Sunsama, Tana, and ClickUp.

While it might seem chaotic or overwhelming at first glance, it’s actually the opposite.

If you rely on just one tool for everything, you’re forced to log every task in that one place or risk forgetting it.

But, what happens when an email, a Slack message, or meeting notes generate tasks?

You end up in a loop, constantly transferring tasks to this single tool.

The common logic is that one tool equals more control (everything in one place seems simpler). However, this “one place” quickly becomes cluttered, messy, and challenging to navigate.

It’s like trying to manage a monster when you’re a busy professional juggling dozens, if not hundreds, of tasks.

Splitting your task management across several tools offers a breath of fresh air. Each tool becomes more manageable because it’s less crowded.

The principle of “less is more” applies here—you can efficiently manage 10 tasks, but 100 tasks become unmanageable.

“Divide and conquer.” — Julius Caesar

You save time because tasks stay where they originate, eliminating the need to move them around.

At this point, you might wonder if this approach, spreading tasks across multiple tools, is too good to be true. You might worry about how to plan, execute, and regain control.

The answer is simple: Embrace the “System Approach” once more.

This approach not only diversifies your task management but also streamlines it, enabling you to work smarter, not harder.

How to Manage Tasks Using Multiple Tools?

Imagine a system that supports you from the moment you gather information until you transform it into actionable steps to achieve your goals.

This is what we mean by a productivity system end to end: It’s got you covered from start to finish, seamlessly and without any hassle.

The Task Management system is a key piece of this broader setup. It organizes those random tasks from various tools into a cohesive plan, thanks to something every effective productivity system relies on: routines.

Routines are the backbone of any productivity system, ensuring it operates smoothly.

Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

This idea underscores the importance of routines. Without them, it’s hard to call what you have a “system” at all.

Think of a routine as a series of tasks you follow one by one. They make life easier because they remove the need for extra thinking or planning—it’s all laid out for you.

In our course, “Task Management like a Pro!”, we dive into routines, a crucial element of a productivity system, showing you how they can streamline your workflow and enhance your efficiency.

Last Thoughts

If you’re a busy professional who find yourself running into the same obstacle every day, and it’s been dragging you down for a while, it’s pretty obvious that it’s time for a change.

You need to shift how you think and act to reach the goal you’re aiming for—the one you truly deserve.

At the Paperless Movement®, that’s exactly what we’re here for.

We specialize in helping busy professionals rethink and revamp their approach to productivity.

We show them that their current way of tackling productivity isn’t cutting it and introduce them to a world of alternatives through our ICOR® methodology and the ICOR® Journey, available exclusively with our Paperless Movement® Membership.

So, what’s holding you back from joining us?

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