Friday, 30 December 2016

My Planning System (2017) - Part 2: Weeks to Days

In this post, I outlined what I would be using in 2017 for planning. These are:
  • A book outlining Goals to Projects to Next Actions
  • A monthly planner
  • My TN with a week + notes diary and a notebook in it
  • An A6 Clairefontaine notebook for day planning
In the last post, I gave a bit more detail on the first two elements of my planning system. Today, I'll outline how the last these parts fit together.

My system is essentially the same as it was in this post, but with different paper-based products to achieve the same results! (Incidentally, that post is my most popular post by a country mile!! At the time of writing, it had well over 45 000 hits!).

At close of play yesterday, I had outlined how I got from Goals and Projects to Next Actions and a Plan for the Month. How does this then relate to the other two parts: the TN and the A6 Clairefontaine?

My Traveller's Notebook with a week + notes diary and a notebook

My TN is the glorious Meadowgate Leather one (which I reviewed here). In it, I have my cards, money (in a Midori zipped pocket insert) a home-made week + notes diary and a notebook. My TN has everything in one place and is the only thing I need to grab other than my keys when I go out.

Week + Notes diary:
This is made from an A5 Rhodia exercise book, with a few extra pages added in (to give me a full year) and the width trimmed to about 14cm to fit in my TN better. The left-hand page has the days plus a spare box; the right-hand page is unstructured.

Once I have my plan for the month, I can split the month's next actions across the weeks of the month. They go in the right-hand page. In the past I've organised the page into different life-areas but sometimes there can be more going on in one area than another, and a life-area space is almost empty while another is crammed! This year I'm leaving it unstructured, although I will probably use colour-coding of tasks to indicate the life-area. I also try to split things into Must Get Done and Nice If It Gets Done. The schedule on the left is there to give me an idea of what appointments or external calls on my time there is over the week so that I don't try to over-schedule myself.
Sunday is my weekly planning day. I review how the previous week has gone, tick off everything that got done and transfer across things that didn't to the new week's plan. I also look through the notes in my notebook (see later).

The TN is usually on my desk, but isn't always open. What is always open, is the A6 Clairefontaine!

The A6 Clairefontaine for day to day planning

These little notebooks are the same size as Field Notes books, but with many more pages (96 in total) and infinitely better paper that's fountain pen friendly. Using a page per day, a book covers a quarter of the year. I draw a column about 3cm wide on the left of each page and mark off the hours from 9 to evening as these are my core 'work' hours and I use this column to time-box.

In the Sunday planning session, I time-box what I can of the week. If I know I will be away doing something at a specific time, I box it off, including preparation/travel time. After that, I try and allocate the Must Get Done items across the days. Then I add in anything else that needs doing but which isn't related to a project (like, collect the dry-cleaning or post that letter). If there's any space, I also pencil in some of the Nice If It Gets Done tasks.

All of these get written in on the right of the page. This space is also used as a jot pad for small, quick things. Each evening, I quickly review the day, ticking off things that got done, processing any notes that need keeping and rescheduling things that didn't get done. In many ways, this little A6 is a combination of schedule and bullet journalling. Each morning I try to allocate tasks to a time slot.

The following two pictures show a day when I was using two pages for a day, but most days I found I didn't need this much space. I now use a single page per day, but the structure is the same.

What it looks like during the day
What it looks like after I've reviewed the day

The notebook:
All of us have 'stuff' that we need to do that isn't part of progress towards a project. It might be a reminder to collect something or to post something. We also might need to keep notes on things - books we want to buy/borrow from the library. This is what I keep in the notebook. The front is a list of 'brain dump' things - tasks that need to be done but which don't belong to a project. The back is a series of lists - things I'm waiting on, books I want to read, items I need to buy. Sometimes things go straight into these lists, sometimes they've been jotted down on the day lists and then get transferred to this 'in-box' so they don't get forgotten.
During the weekly review (and often the daily ones), I check through the notebook and add things to the day's lists - if I know I'll be in town, to buy x or y; if I have a heap of letters to write or emails to deal with, I'll make them a specific task on a day. It's not foolproof, but it mostly works.

I realise I've given you a lot of information over these last few posts. In the final part tomorrow, I'll show you how I put it all together: what do I do each month, week, and day to make it work for me.

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