Part 2 of 3
Last week we looked at reasons why you might want to or need to start planning. You had a little exercise, on one sheet was the old way of planning, where you probably wrote too many to dos and didn’t get half the things checked off and probably forgot to check stuff off or even to refer to it during the week. It might have been nice marking some of the things off, but a little frustrating not getting everything done.
On the second sheet (or sheets) is where there was value, its where you had your brain dump, cleared your head, there would have been more satisfaction and relief with the second sheet. But now what to do with it… I follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done Method of planning and once you get started I find it the easiest and most effective.
First you need to take time and make sure you’ve everything on that (second) list, collect everything you must do, want to do, dream of doing, anything that’s unfinished or you are waiting to make a decision on. Empty drawers, go through your inbox, old notebooks, walk around your house (applies to home, office or both). This is the collection stage.
Once you have collected everything, process it… for every item ask yourself; what is the very next thing I need to do to get this done, if its only one thing that will take less than two minutes, do it. Otherwise put it on your next actions list or delegate it to someone else or file it if its reference that you might need at another time. You need to separate everything under the following ..
- Project list (anything that will take more than two steps to complete) You can separate your projects lists into home, business and personal, but make sure you give each equal priority.
- Next actions list (single action times)
- Inbox (open items you still need to make a decision on)
- Reference (information you may need again)
- Someday maybe (you don’t want to action now but maybe in the future)
- Waiting on (you’ve delegated to someone or waiting on something)
Now you can start filling out your calendar, but only with appointments/meetings and date specif projects/actions.
I divide out my next action list into mini lists, where they are relevant and I won’t miss them, so I have…
- Desk (when I’m at my work desk, something I need to focus on on, or print or do at my computer)
- Errands (when I’m out and about)
You need to look at your next action list every day, taking note of the things you could be doing that day.
You need to look at your projects list at least once a week, to update and look at what you need to be adding to your next action list… I’d have 5 to 10 projects on the go at a time, but keeping it simple just looking at the next step on each.
Have a couple of ‘Inboxes’ for new items/idea, a physical one that you can throw stuff into and notebook/planner/app to write things/idea down as they pop up. Keep that head clear, pop everything down (unless you need to do it right away and then do it!!) but trust in your system that you will empty these inboxes when you are doing your weekly review and add to your projects.
I’ve read David Allen’s book a few times and other blogs to get different views on the method and definitely think its worth giving a go. Kara from Boho Berry had a few interesting blogs and I love her visuals to explain it
But how does this work in a practical everyday way…
The simplest way is demonstrate how I use it is to let you know how I planned today, Wednesday March 7th 2018..
In my planner I filled out all appointments, meetings, activities and deadlines for projects in my monthly calendar. Every Sunday I empty my inbox, update my projects list and next actions list (takes me 15 to 20 minutes because I do it every week). I also fill out a weekly planning sheet, I pull any appointments, activities from my calendar, I look at my next actions list and if there anything that needs to be done on a certain day I write that in. And I write my pillars in, these are the everyday tasks I need to do to keep everything moving forward.
Everyones pillars are different, I’m a work at home mother so mine are between home and work tasks. I have a basic cleaning routine, that’s roughly based on Fly lady’s model, I do one daily cleaning task and one zone cleaning task every day. So today my daily cleaning task is vacuuming upstairs and a general pickup upstairs, my zone is halls and today’s task is wiping down the front and back door. I’m sure I’ll spot other things that need doing as I’m going, but I get around to everything by following the routine and if I veer off and start doing other things it just messes up my day. My house isn’t perfection, I’ve three kids, I cover most things every week and that’s fine… Momentum not perfection. (I’m not planning out things like cooking and cleaning up after dinner etc, or even laundry as they just get done every day). My other pillar are my work tasks, things like replying to customer enquiries, sending out invoices, getting parcels ready for delivery, I do as needed. But I have days set for key activities, like blog writing, admin, scheduling posts etc. today I’m editing and scheduling this blog.
Between school and playschool drop offs, collections and activities I have two blocks of time to get everything done… and I’ve a two year old at home….
When I get up I have a coffee and look at my day ahead so I know exactly what I need to do … Momentum not perfection… if I run out of time I move on and come back to it later, or it doesn’t get done today, it’s not the end of the world.
After school drop offs – I’ve a two hour window to get stuff done
Work Tasks (1 hour max)
- Edit blog, do graphics
- Schedule blog to post later in day
- Send invoices
- Chase supplier about delivery
- Next actions list – desk.. register warranty
Home Tasks (1 hour max)
- Pick up upstairs
- Zone – doors
If I get that done I’m having a coffee before the playschool pick up, my lunch and then the school pick up.
Activities and play-date this afternoon – but have an hour after lunch
- finish any work tasks from this morning
- next action list – 5 minute list item before heading out the door
Homework, dinner, tidy, bedtime, put away laundry and I’ll have a final look at today tasks, emails, messages etc that need to be finished.
I wasn’t in town so I didn’t look at my errands list, I was at home but didn’t look at my home list as I had enough to do. Don’t set yourself too many tasks in one day, if you find you have time by all means go to your next actions list but planning isn’t about working harder, its about getting the most out of your day while moving forward ..
Momentum not perfection
Let me know what you think, is this a planning system that could work for you? Next week I’ll look at different types of planners and how to choose one that will work for you.