Planning your day

The productivity blogs have been rumbling about a couple of new organizational ideas to explore, including Mark Forster's book Do It Tomorrow and Mission Control. I haven't delved too deeply into them yet, but one idea bubbled up that I've put into practice, which is planning your day.

At work I use a writing pad from Tops that is divided into sections. Every morning I review my master task list and pick out the tasks I'm going to do that day. I write them on my pad in the left section.

Then I print my calendar for the day from Outlook and figure out how much time I have in between meetings. I then pencil in (on the calendar) my plans for accomplishing the day's Most Important Tasks and when I'm going to do them. It's a bit like the "Unschedule" in Neil Fiore's book The Now Habit.

During the day I capture new stuff - thoughts, new tasks, phone messages - on the right side of my notepad. At the end of the day I update my master task list with the things I've completed and the new things I've captured. Throughout the day I avoid looking at my master list or my email because they distract me. My end of day ritual includes email-responding and processing.

Kate Davis has a good post that's giving me some other ideas, and which matches my experience over the past couple of weeks. She's actually created a form for herself (available for download) with a checklist.

I might go there eventually, but for now I like the freedom of my ever-present notepad. I find that I'm incredibly lazy, and even having to look in my drawer for a notebook and find a page to write on, or find an index card, is too much work. I need a capture tool that is always available. Plain old 8.5" x 11" pads fit the bill. Otherwise, I don't write things down, and I end up in a downward spiral of non-GTDness.


Matthew Cornell said...

Thanks for the useful and detailed post. I know it's helpful for others to see how you work - very disciplined. And thanks for the link, too.

Kate Davis said...

It sounds to me like you have a good system that works for you. Our approaches to planning our day actually sound fairly similar, I just need a stronger reminder of what my routine is otherwise it doesn't happen!

I know what you mean about the inbox. At work I have almost panicked in meetings when I realise I don't have my notebook. I haven't found the best way of collecting ideas at home yet though.