Don’t Be a Prisoner to Your Planning

 by Jeff Doubek, Day-Timer Spokesperson

If your planning system feels like a ball and chain is strapped to your ankle, then something is wrong. You might be a prisoner to your system. This feeling is characterized by the notion that you are spending more time working on your system than you are working on life.

A quality system should not slow you up, but rather streamline your daily processes. Here are some symptoms and some common methods for improving your planning lifestyle:

Data Redundancy

Since increasing productivity is your ultimate goal, involving yourself in any system that requires writing the same schedule and task entries in more than one planning tool is simply counterproductive. It’s a very common mistake of those having multiple calendars — for home and work — with electronic, paper, and possibly mobile planning devices. Not only do you waste the very time you seek to save, but you also risk letting information fall through the cracks due to missed updates.

Solve this issue by committing yourself to one planner, and if necessary print, photocopy or electronically sync to other tools.

“Kitchen Sink” To-do Lists

Task lists can be both the hero and the villain in your planning system. All too often individuals assign themselves an overwhelming number of tasks and set themselves up for failure. A list having everything plus the kitchen sink can have a negative effect on productivity, and can increase stress and frustration.

It is crucial that you set a reasonable expectation for your day. Assign yourself only the amount of tasks that are realistic and attainable, and prioritize them thoughtfully. When you’ve had a successful day, fill your remaining time by grabbing another task off your master list.

Heavy Parts

Put simply, these are the tools and processes in your system that require more work than they’re worth. Do you slow down your scheduling because you rely on a computer program that’s never open? Do you carry around a larger planner than you need and never find yourself using the paper? Or, do you write notes in multiple notebooks but can never find the information when you need it?

The key is to identify and eliminate these parts of your system that slow you down.

Digital Interference

In the name of technology, many people commit themselves to using mobile devices and computer applications that do more harm than good. Digital planning solutions fit perfectly into many individual’s planning systems, while others thrive in the hands-on environment of paper planning.

You have to decide which tools best serve your planning style, and rely on your best interests.

Endless Task Forwarding

Similar to the kitchen sink list, this is a common ailment to task list creation. It involves the state of constantly pushing an incomplete, and often un-started, task forward to another date at the end of each workday. Ultimately, it reduces your enthusiasm to accomplish the task.

Fight this by placing more personal meaning onto your task planning. Make it a special promise to yourself that you will take care of what you’ve been assigned. When you schedule tasks in small achievable steps, you will attain a heightened sense of accomplishment at day’s end.

Please Tell Us Your Thoughts

Do you have a “ball and chain” in your planning system? Please comment and let us know what slows you down, and how you work to avoid it.

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