Does the Perfect Productivity System Exist (Part Two)?

Productivity systemsIn the first part of this post, I considered methods like GTD, the Pomodoro Technique and Streaks.

In the second part of this post, I will discuss the Action Method, Personal Kanban and the Franklin Planner. Let’s continue.

The Action Method

Action Method is a task management system for people and teams. It has a lot in common with Getting Things Done, but it’s more geared towards creative professionals who need to put their ideas into reality. It’s also designed with teams in mind.

This method asks adoptees to consider the verb of each task e.g. “write a blog post” and not “blog post”.

It also provides users with a way to track and delegate tasks, accept and reject projects. The Action Method comes with various purpose-built software offerings, which should ease the transition for new adoptees.

In summary, it focuses on the rather self-explanatory Action Steps, Backburner Items and Reference Items.


  • It’s tailored to meet the needs of creative professionals.
  • It focuses on actions that users can take and it provides an effective means of collaboration for teams.


  • In some cases, GTD is more appropriate than the Action method. For example, GTD places a greater emphasis on the weekly review.
  • There’s a small cost to various materials and software apps supporting the Action Method.

Personal Kanban

Kanban is a Japanese productivity technique developed by Taiichi Ohno.

It has influenced everything from manufacturing processes to IT development.

Personal Kanban is a derivative of Kanban developed by Jim Benson. It asks adoptees to visualise their work and limit their work in progress.

Adoptees use a Personal Kanban board that breaks down a person’s projects into “To Do”, “Doing” and “Done”.

This lets them see work they’ve yet to get to, as well as work in progress and work accomplished. Personal Kanban is simple to use and adoptees can rely on electronic versions like Trello or simply use a whiteboard with sticky notes.

This is minimalism at its finest.


  • Personal Kanban is easy to understand and adopt.
  • Kanban can be scaled up or down to meet the requirements of teams or the individual.
  • It’s a minimialist system that will appeal to those who dislike complex methodologies.


  • It’s origins lie in business and manufacturing. This may not suit the needs of creative professionals.
  • It’s not suitable for every type of project.
  • It lacks a holding place for projects that the user isn’t committed to but may undertake at some future point.

Franklin Planner

Franklin_Covey_India_&_South_Asia Developed by Stephen Covey, this methodology went on to form part of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The Franklin Planner has been around for over twenty years and has evolved and developed into a popular productivity system trusted by many business people.

A Franklin Planner is similar to a Filofax. It consolidates tasks, appointments and personal notes in one place. It asks users to set goals and organise their time by considering the entire week and not just each day.

The Franklin Planner comes with a weekly schedule sheet, which includes space for an individual’s roles, goals, daily and weekly priorities and appointments. Users should review their schedule at the start of each day to effectively plan and prioritise.


  • The Franklin Planner is a highly adaptable system. It can be easily adapted and tweaked by users.
  • There’s an established range of supporting materials to help users of this system.
  • The system is geared towards those who like to work with pen and paper.


  • It’s necessary to read Covey’s book to fully understand his methodology. I’m not knocking the book but it’s a sign that this productivity method requires some commitment and time.
  • The Franklin Planner can take some time to understand and carry out.
  • The Franklin Planner is more effective if the user takes up the other habits Covey describes in his book.

These habits represent a system for life, and not just a personal productivity system.

This overview shows that productivity has become an industry in itself. It’s possible to spend hours avoiding work because you’re searching for the perfect tools and methods.

The perfect system doesn’t exist and sometimes it’s more effective to pick one method, stick with it and get to work.

Please let me know about your favourite productivity system and how you use it in the comments section below.

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8 thoughts on “Does the Perfect Productivity System Exist (Part Two)?”

  1. I’m still looking, but so far the best thing I found was The Secret Weapon, (TSW) which is simply one of the versions of combining Getting Things Done and Evernote. (The website describes it in detail, and you can find youtube videos on it.)
    But I think that combining the urgent/important concept by Steven Covey (7 Habits,) helps.
    I am now attempting to add in a KanBan type of workflow into the process.
    So far this has been the most successful time management system I have ever used.

  2. I stick with the kanban board method too, but instead of Trello I have a program called Kanban Tool Kanban Tool . It’s simplier, so helps me to stay focused when planning all the writing… Also I can have a different board just for translating and other projects I do.

  3. Alison Moore Smith

    Enjoyed your article.

    Just a heads up. Covey didn’t invent Franklin Planners. Hyrum Smith started the the company in 1984. Smith and Covey came together in the late 90s creating a new Covey-style planner (with weeks rather than days and roles) that could be purchased instead of the old-style Franklin one Last time I looked, the old-style planners were the ones still being sold.

  4. Bryan – thanks for your good information for writers. I work as an IT professional, plus I am attempting my first novel which required major research (historical). I am also excellent at procrastinating and have a plethora of engaging interests to keep me from feeling bored. “This overview shows that productivity has become an industry in itself. It’s possible to spend hours avoiding work because you’re searching for the perfect tools and methods.” OUCH!! that hit fair and square in the belly, having just spend two weekends and more attempting to set up a task management system for myself.

    So, after various aborted attempts at to-do systems in the past, I went ahead and installed Nozbe which is a pretty cool cross-platform system but after a week, I migrated my tasks (manually) into GQueues. I am fully Google-ised so GQueues works well for me and is also 1/4 the price of Nozbe and I love the Android version – I can dictate a new task in a matter of seconds and the app allows for all manner of natural-speech calendar entries etc.

    So I am using GQueue’ implementation of GTD for my overall life planning, but I agree that GTD does not sit well with the creative side of writing. For writing I am a happy user of Scrivener which is an awesome environment for authors to contain and manage their projects. Highly recommended! Still early days but if I can “obey” my action list and beat the procrastination devil in me, then GQueus may work for me. Fingers crossed – will keep you posted in a month or so 🙂

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