Here is a glossary of typical productivity terms. The point is to be able to get clear on things in order to record, track, and execute work more effectively.
“Task” – A task is a small action. It is usually something that can be accomplished relatively quickly. For example, a task would be sending an email, looking over a document, or processing notes from a meeting. A task can be something conceptualized as existing on a traditional To Do List.
“Project” – A project is something to be done which is time-bound. In other words, projects have deadlines. If something has no deadline, then it would reclassified. Projects will usually be multi-week or multi-month. A project can be conceptualized as existing in a document or on something like a Kanban board.
“Systems” – A system is a series of consequential actions that leads to a result. Systems follow a sequence (“this then this then this…”). Systems can be “trigger” system where if a certain thing happens, then another series of actions kicks in. Other systems can be “habitualized” where you work the system on a recurring basis whether weekly, monthly, or yearly. Systems can often be conceptualized through the use of a checklist.
“Initiatives” – Initiatives are large (often multi-year) things to be accomplished. Establishing a new culture in an organization, for example, would be an initiative. An initiative could be conceptualized in a journal, where larger thoughts about the future might exist.
“Habits”– An action that you begin by making a conscious choice but then runs on autopilot. A habit is a repeated action. Habits often collect to form a larger system of habits, but can also exist independently of a system.