In my last post one of the best practices I listed was to plan with some sort of calendar tool (this can be paper).
This is helpful because at this detailed level of planning it really helps to be able to see your activities and tasks plotted out against not only the day, but ideally the hour. Use whatever tool you prefer that allows you to do this.
Here is an example of how I set up my low level plan using Entourage (the mac version of Outlook). I convert all my activities into calendar events and color code them according to different projects or work areas (ex. product development, marketing, business administration, personal, health.)
Using this system I can drag and drop activities around. Some mornings I don’t feel like tackling product development tasks, so I move and swap tasks around according to my mood, with peace of mind that the item is still on my plan and won’t get forgotten.
Lastly, when I block out an activity against time, I don’t have to worry that it’s going to get lost. Each week when I review and create a new plan, I either move ahead what I didn’t get done the previous week or decide it’s not worth doing. Switching the color of the item to white let’s me immediately see what was accomplished and what still needs to be tackled.
The example above is from my friend, the artist Stephanie Levy, who used a clever combination of a calendar and post-its based on an approach from Jennifer Lee. True, this version doesn’t track time against the hour, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to do what works for you. Paper and post-its add just about all the same advantages as a digital calendar tool; you can break your activities down into discrete actions on each post-it, move each one around if your schedule or mood changes, as well as as have a visual reminder of what you need to do every day.
Another idea is to add a ‘done’ column on your paper plan where you can move post-its of items you have completed. Of course, you can throw these away too, but I like the idea of having a record somewhere. You can also make a paper-based calendar for the week with the hours of the day running down the side, and align your post-its to the hours. Whatever works.
In fact, today I think paper is a superior way to go, as my Entourage has ironically decided to die! Just when I was about to extol the benefits of using a digital calendar! God does have a sense of humor. But just as technology can throw cold water on our plans, paper can just as easily get lost. So either way, the lesson applies: make sure you have a means of preventing your plan from getting lost!