Have you mastered productivity?

To achieve a black belt level of productivity, there are eleven skills to master.


Productivity Levels (pdf)

Eleven important skills to master for productivity:
1. Capturing
2. Emptying
3. Tossing
4. Acting now
5. Storing
6. Scheduling
7. Listing
8. Interrupting
9. Switching
10. Warning
11. Reviewing
Evaluate yourself in each of these areas – which level of skill do you have?
1. White Belt – Beginner
2. Green Belt – Novice
3. Brown Belt – Expert
4. Black Belt – Master
White Belt at the white belt level, you:
Rely on memory, let email/voicemail pile up indefinitely, and have difficulty letting anything go. Don’t use a calendar or to-do list, and have no early warning system to trigger actions. Either fail to act or act on the wrong things and don’t complete them. Don’t do a regular review.
Green Belt at the green belt level, you:
Use a mix of memory & scraps of paper, with piles of notes in various places. Email and voicemail are rarely de-cluttered, and some things are tossed occasionaly. Attempt to put everything into system, rather than acting on small items immediately. Use folders, can connect item on schedule or list to folder. Can sometimes find needed information. Use calendar for appointments/meetings and maintain a single list. Sometimes uses alarms, timers, tickler file for reminders. Sometimes check lists/schedule before selecting next task. Have begun to think of how to prevent problems, and do infrequent, unplanned reviews.
Brown Belt at the brown belt level, you:
May have multiple points of capture that are not always available. Have a better systems for notes, and sometimes de-clutter areas. Know how to set limits, but sometimes spend too much time on a single item. Have a good set-up for files and can usually find needed information. Update and refer to calendars regularly. Maintain several lists by may fail to monitor them regularly. Often remember to use reminders. Most actions are based on lists or schedule. Are aware of warning triggers, but may fail to notice them. Do frequent planned reviews of contents of system but not the system itself.
Black Belt at the black belt level, you:
Use a single device for capture that is always available. Have a paper, electronic, or combination system chosen. Notes are always accessible, move to next step, empties religiously, never overwhelmed. Always look for stuff that can be eliminated. Are skillful at selecting & acting on small items. Able to see the next step and quickly enter into system. Can quickly and easily find needed information. Files are organized, and essential information is backed up. Use a calendar for planning & multiple activities. Keep essential lists easily accessible and continually add to & refer to them. Regularly use many different methods of reminders. Always consider the best action to take with priorities and available resources, and follow through to completion. Maintain a set number of tasks, paper piles, and email. Monitor warning triggers regularly. Daily content reviews and regular system reviews.

This post was originally inspired by The 2Time Mgt Blog, now 2time-sys.com.

see also: “Ready to Test for Your Belt?” from MarkTaw.com.

I seek to create order from the chaos of complex information. Join me at the Daily PlanIt to gain insights, inspiration, and information to increase skills for a better life. I unlock the power of teaching reading with phonics in the pursuit of literacy at www.phonicspow.com. In my spare time I explore books and movies, often choosing titles available on both screen and page.

Posted in productivity
8 comments on “Have you mastered productivity?
  1. fwade says:

    Thanks for the mention!

    A proposal to expound on these ideas can be seen (and voted on) at http://ww.changethis.com/proposals/1064

    Stay tuned, as I am hopeful that the Manifesto I proposed will put all the ideas together in one place. Hopefully, it will be readable…


  2. Thanks for the pointer. Those kinds of measures are useful as diagnostics. You might be interested in this tool, which I created to be more applied:

    GTD Workflow Assessment/Tips Checklist

  3. Patrick says:

    really really nice work you have here!!!!

    i had a post once about the same topic! see it here!


    lets trade links if you want to.. just let me know!

  4. Daily Facts says:

    Guess what? Your blog is amazing! I can’t remember when was the last time
    i’ve overcome such a good blog that almost all articles/posts were interesting
    and wouldn’t regret spending my time reading it. I hope you will keep up
    the great work you are doing here and i can enjoy my everyday read at your blog.

  5. Hmm… This is the first time I’ve ever encountered a list of productivity list. It actually makes me laugh now I don’t appear to have mastered much at all. I’m not a very organized person after all. Productivity comes to me in small doses and spontaneously, too! I guess this isn’t a good combination. But let me take a peek at that list again. I just might aspire to be a level or two higher.

  6. DanGTD says:


    For implementing GTD you might try out my application for time management and productivity,


    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use

    checklists, schedules and a calendar.

    Hope you like it.

  7. […] Master Productivity: Productivity Levels (pdf based on posts at The 2Time Mgt Blog) […]

  8. […] Master Productivity with Productivity Levels […]

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