How this simple productivity system improved my productivity and focus

How this simple productivity system improved my productivity and focus

Recently, I learned about and implemented a new productivity system (The Today System) – into my productivity system and my productivity has greatly increased. Not just that, my focus on all the important things that matter to my long-term goals has also skyrocketed significantly. If you’re someone who is always getting “busy” without actually achieving much at the end of the month, you may want to implement this productivity system in a way that suits you.

I believe there are many people out there like me who are struggling with being consistent with the GTD (Get Things Done) or Horizons of Focus productivity systems. If you like to write your to-do lists on paper like me and like both the GTD and Horizons of Focus productivity systems but are having issues being consistent, maybe you should try out this simple productivity system that has certain parts of these systems in it.

“The Today System” productivity system was designed around simple tools: a 3×5 index card (I use a notebook actually) by Mike Sturm. You don’t need any complicated apps and the system itself is pretty easy to understand. It’s designed to help us focus on today and I particularly like the reviewing system.

What stood out to me with this productivity system was how easy it was to implement. I found out about the Today System on an episode of the podcast Beyond the To-do List and immediately fell in love with it.


Here are some reasons why I fell in love with The Today System?

  • No commitments.
  • The fact that I can gamify reviewing my productivity.
  • The fact that the productivity system is built to motivate me to be more productive on projects I’m building for future purposes.

How the Today System can help you?

1. It can sustain your focus on the important things you need to do for your Future Plans.

It is very easy to get distracted by the things you need to do today or the tasks that you need to complete to meet your short-term goals. So easy that many times, it takes a monthly review to realize you haven’t done anything that works for your long-term goals in a month. And this is why I feel like a system like this is great for getting my priorities right and prioritizing tasks that are relevant to my long-term goals rather than tasks that I definitely have to complete come rain or sunshine because they’re linked to my short-term goals.

2. It’s a tangible source of motivation to be more productive than the day before (the points).

3. You can have a productivity measurement system based on tasks that are important to your long-term goals not just your short-term goals.

4. A great way to prioritize the tasks for each day on paper and then have tangible proof of whether you were productive or not (the points).

For me, the tangible points of how productive or unproductive I was has really helped me much more than the satisfying feeling of checking boxes of completed tasks on my to-do list. That’s why I believe that your productivity can be improved by this system.

How the Today System Works

The Today System works on four levels but you can choose to use only the first or second level depending on you. I also want you to know that no productivity system is set in stone and you can modify any productivity system to suit your needs and personality. What’s important is knowing yourself.

Level 1: The Today Card

Create a list of tasks you want to complete today with a 3×5 index card (or notebook, or paper)

What to do?

  • Write a list of tasks for the day (At most 9).
  • Assign points to the tasks based on their priority/importance.
  • Commit to doing the tasks on the card (after all, you’re not just wasting five minutes to write them for writing’s sake right?)
  • As you complete the tasks, cross them off and award yourself points for them based on the priority of that task when linked to your long-term goals.
  • At the end of the day, calculate your points and ‘effective batting average’.

[effective batting average total value is always 1.000

Your effective batting average is calculated: Points Actual / Points Possible]

  • Track your score with the TS spreadsheet and try to keep each day’s score at 0.750.

my Today Card

Level 2: The Today Card + The S3

The Simplified Scheduling System (S3) is a list of things you need to do:

  • Today+: Tasks for today or tomorrow
  • Next Few Days
  • This Week
  • Next Week and After

This is perfect if you don’t already have a list of projects you’re working on. Your S3 is simply a dump list of things you need to do. Or you can do it the way I do mine – I have a dump list for each project. They’re classified that way to make sure I’m making progress on all my tasks.

Level 3: The Card + The S3 + The Scorekeeping Sheet

The third level involves getting a scorekeeping system so you can know what days or weeks you were most productive and why (because you can add notes). It’s great for assessing your productivity over a longer period of time.

For this, you’ll need these two tabs on your scorekeeping sheet:

  1. The Daily Scores tab
The daily tab in Scorekeeping level 3
The daily tab Screenshot from the Today System Website
  1. The Weekly notes with a point system
The weekly tab in Scorekeeping level 3
The Weekly Tab Screenshot from the Today System Website

Level 4: The Card + The S3 + The Scorekeeping Sheet + The Goals/Projects List

The fourth level involves writing down your goals and projects that are important to you so you can have a guide for writing your Today card.

It’s also a great way to track not just your tasks but also your projects and how they serve your goals or don’t.

In level 4, you need to objectively evaluate what projects serve your goals (#G) or don’t (#NG). This way you can minimize the amount of #NG projects that don’t serve your goals.

Some Ways that I Modified the Today Productivity System to Suit My Needs

1. I linked my goals with the current projects I’m working on

I created a list of goals and projects that would support my goals (in a notebook) but you can do the same anywhere. Then I kind of created a link between those goals and the projects, then prioritized the projects based on their significance to my long-term goals. That would be my guide to creating tasks I need to accomplish every day.

Goals linked to projects productivity system
Here FBI is Future Better Income, FPI is Future Passive Income and C$ is current income. The arrows indicate low, medium, or high income. And the G-1 are my long-term goals based on priority number.

2. A Weekly Today System

I added a weekly system to it kind of like the tasks I need to do for the week. In all sincerity, I may end up adding a monthly system.

This may look weird because the Today system itself already has a sort of weekly review system of its own but I wanted to create some sort of goals that I wanted to accomplish every week which was why I built a weekly system writing down the things I want to accomplish in a week and giving them points based on their importance.

I think this would spur someone like me who can lose focus easily on my personal projects because of my shiny object syndrome. It allows me to know what is important for me to accomplish in the week so I don’t get distracted by a new business idea I hear about and spend 4 hours trying to investigate it only to conclude that it isn’t the business for me.

my weekly today system

3. Using a notebook + the Spreadsheet

I use a 2D notebook (a handwriting notebook for kids in Nigeria) to record the tasks I need to complete daily and weekly.

2d notebook

The creator of the Today system – Mike Sturm prefers to use an index card for his own reasons.

Why Mike Sturm of Today System uses an index card
Screenshot from Today System Website FAQ page –

Final Words on The Today Productivity System

Just like any other productivity system I’ve tried, I’m not sure if this productivity system is the ultimate one or not because I’ve only been using it for a while.

However, I need to say that I really really like this productivity system. It has greatly improved my productivity in the last few weeks that I’ve used it and I have a feeling that your productivity can be improved by this system as well.

If you have any questions about the Today System, you can find out more on the Today System Productivity website because I wrote this article as concisely as possible.

You can also read their Full guide and Quick-Start Guide for more context.

How about dropping a comment on something you liked about this productivity system or something you didn’t like? Or better yet, can you tell me how you have modified or plan to modify this productivity? Or a secret on how you have modified the GTD or Horizons of Focus productivity system for your goals?

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

Interested in getting your finances in order? Check out this article about Creating your reliable Financial Plan


Moshope Ajiboye is a freelance writer, blogger, and small business owner. She is passionate about writing, financial freedom, learning, and becoming a better person. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram with the same handle: @ajiboyemoshope. She also has a Youtube channel called Pursue Better Me.

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