In this article, we are going to compare three of the top most popular productivity systems in the world for price, effectiveness, and design. I have personally used each system on this list on it’s own for at least a year each, and definitely figured out some of the pros and cons with each system, so let’s jump in.
First on the list is GTD, or Getting Things Done. This productivity system popularized by David Allen has been around for many years and is probably the oldest system on the list. The essential parts consist of five steps: capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage. Let’s break it down.
1. Capture happens at the start of your day or week, where you write, record, or gather any and everything that has your attention into a collection tool.
My tool of choice: a checkbox list on pen and paper.
2. Once you’ve feel like you’ve dumped out everything in your mind, it’s time to clarify what each item means. Is it actionable? If so, decide the next action and project (if more than one action is required). If not, decide if it is trash, reference, or something to put on hold.
3. Next, you organize what items you have left, putting reminders of your categorized content in appropriate places you’ll remember to get it done.
4. Then, you reflect on your items repeatedly throught the day, updating and reviewing your items to regain control and focus.
5. Lastly, you engage. Simply do the items you’ve defined as worthy of your attention, and get them done.
Right off the bat, if you are looking to simply regain control of your life or find some organization without getting too complicated, GTD will just work. It was the first productivity system I used and it took me through my first highschool job. You do need to figure out what “collection tool” you are going to use, whether it’s a pen and paper, a checklist app, or sticky notes.
So, price: it’s free to start, especially if you have a pen and paper lying around or your phone to list out some items. For price, 5/5. Effectiveness? I’d say 3/5 only because I felt that after a while, that after the intial few months of productivity, I found it time consuming and slightly annoying to have to write and rewrite list items from my capture page into other areas of my paper system.
Redundancy turned into more work for me, and I found it not as frictionless as other productivity systems I ended up trying. Design wise, I’d give it a 1/5 only because the system is a concept and you can make it really simple with a couple sheets of paper or go super techy with different apps, or a combination of both. The design is what you make of it.
The second productivity system in this list is the Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt. Honestly, right off the bat, this system changed my life, bar none. It was so easy to use and remember.
GTD has five steps that I always have a hard time remembering, whereas the Full Focus Planner has been thoughtfully designed and created with ease of use in mind and having more robust productivty features that you can scale with as you get comfortable.
Also, GTD can result in a long, neverending to-do list, but, I can attest that the Full Focus Planner really does eliminate long to-do lists. It actually makes productivity feel inspiring.
To use the Full Focus Planner, they actually give you a simple checklist inside the front page with how to get started.
First, you set up the planner by filling in the first week or two of dates.
Second, you start small and build, by beginning to use the daily pages, then the goals, weekly preview, and other pages as you gain confidence.
And third, you make each time in your day to plan the day by identifying your daily big 3 tasks, other tasks, and appointments every day. That’s it. It’s that simple.
As you grow you can take advantage of the calendar pages, annual goals, and ideal week, but all you need to get started, really, is the daily pages.
So, for price, I’d give this planner a 2/5. It’s the most expensive option on the list at about $40–50 per 90 day planner or $125–160ish for the annual subscription for four books mail to you every year. Ouch! But, honestly, it’s worth the money if you can afford it. You can’t really put a price on serious productivity.
Effectiveness I’d give a 4/5. This system really does work. Like I said my life was changed for the better after using a Full Focus planner for the first time. The only thing I don’t like about it is that if you missed a day or two or you decided to take a week off, you feel guilty for wasting that paper because the days are printed on the daily pages.
You can very easily started living for your planner instead of your planner serving you if you are not careful. That’s the only thing I grew to dislike about the Full Focus Planner. That and the price.
Design-wise, I’d give it a 5/5. It’s beautiful, easy to use, and elegant. And theirs different colors, leather options for a premium feel, and even a pocket sized planner too.
Now, last on our list of world-class productivity systems is the Business Made Simple or BMSU lifeplan. Honestly, I gotta say, this one is a little bit different. Wherease GTD focuses on organizing your mind, and the Full Focus Planner makes it easy to plan goals, track them through the week, and set daily tasks, the BMSU lifeplan takes you through a more gripping journey.
The other two systems can be use in part, meaning you don’t have to master every step of each system to benefit from it, but the BMSU lifeplan is set up in such a way that the best way to get the most out of it is to actually sit down and create a lifeplan for your productivity first. But, they make it really simple to do.
The team over at Business Made Simple actually walk you through step by step on how to setup a lifeplan in just a few hours. You start with writing your obituary, then a one sentence life summary of what you want to accomplish. Then you define your ten-year, five year, and one year vision of what you think you want you life to be like, then you set three goals.
Only three goals so that you remember every day what those goals are and where you are tracking on them. Then you use the daily action pages to add three primary tasks for the day, organizing them by most important, keeping in mind that your brain has more energy earlier in the day.
Then you add other tasks, appointments, and a short reflection for each day, reminding you if you were to live this day a second time, what would you do differently? Really powerful. And, at the bottom, you’ll write down your one sentence summary to remind yourself of what you want your life to accomplish.
For price, I’d give this a 4/5. This productivity system comes with an annual subscription to the Business Made Simple platform for just $275/year. Once you take the life plan course called “hero on a mission”, you techinically don’t have to renew to continue using the system. Once you learn it, your good to go. Though, the value of the other courses are worth it in my mind to renew, especially if you are looking to take the mystery out of growing a business.
Effectiveness, I’d give a 5/5 only because I don’t feel guilty if I miss a day or two. I’m not wasting paper, and can just continue on the next daily page. There’s no printed day assigned to each page; you can use them on any day of the week, so more flexible.
Design, I’d give a 3/5 because you have to download and print off the individual pages, hole punch them, and use them in a binder. Or, in my case, I use the full page size arc system binder by Staples. The downside is that you have to pay more to print in color, have nice paper for a good experience, etc. Still cheaper than the Full Focus Planner.
I did the math and figured out that by ordering 90 days worth of daily pages in color and on nice smooth paper, it came to $10–15 less than a single planner from the Full Focus Store. Worth it for me; I save paper, find meaning everyday, and enjoy a productivity system that just works.
So, If you are new to productivity, I’d recommend GTD to start your journey. It’s fast to learn, easy to start, and free to use. If you are needing a more thought through accountable system that captures everything your brain doesn’t and is scalable to include your goals, calendar, and weekly planning, than Full Focus Planner might be for you.
If you need some direction in your life and are wanting to find your purpose, find meaning, or discover your passions with a proven plan that is super simple and easy to use, and is much less frictionless than most other options out there, hands down, go for the BMSU lifeplan. You won’t go wrong.
Question for the day: Are you thinking of improving your productivity? Let me know in the comments!