What If an Index Card Could Make You More Productive?

I tried all the popular productivity systems. This is what finally stuck.

Mike Sturm
Published in
7 min readOct 19, 2021


Photo: Netalieh/Getty Images

For the better part of a decade, I’d get frustrated at myself for not
being able to make popular productivity systems to work for me.
GTD, the Bullet Journal Method, Day Designer, The Franklin Covey
planner, the Ivy Lee Method, time-blocking — I tried them all. Even
if I kept up with a system for a couple months or so, I would
inevitably lose motivation.

Then one day in November 2020, neck-deep in pandemic-induced
frustration, I took out a 3x5 card and wrote down the most important
things I needed to get done that day. Next to each task, I put a point value. At the end of the day, I tallied my score. I vowed to get the same score or
better the next day.

Nearly a year later, I still fill out an index card every day—and I’ve become more productive, focused, and motivated because of it. I call the simple practice The Today System.

How it works

  • Grab a 3x 5 lined index card and something to write with.
  • Flip the card to the unlined back, and position it vertically. Set a timer for three minutes, and write down every task you think you should try to get done today.
  • Flip the card over to the lined side. Put today’s day and date at the top, and make it look like the picture below.
  • Using your task list from the back, begin listing the most important tasks you have time to do today¹, in order of importance.² Pick no more than 9 tasks (one for each line). The first item is #1, the second is #2, and so on. Your card should look like this:
  • In the “P” column, place the point value…



Mike Sturm
Writer for

Creator: https://TheTodaySystem.com — A simpler personal productivity system. Writing about productivity, self-improvement, business, and life.

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