Many people struggle to understand how to merge the way they currently work, with the way the Focus Planner wants them to work. So here are some tips that we can give you that lets you keep some comfort with what you know while helping you to be better every day.
Type One: You Have No System at All
Type Two: The One MASSIVE List Maker
You have one huge list with everything on it that you have to do between now and the year2027. It might be in a spiral notebook, or it might be electronic.
You are also the type of person that might end up at the end of the day with a longer list than when you started!
The good news is you’re organised.
The bad news is that you have so many things it is probably hard to prioritise, and you might find yourself doing easy, quick things that make a dent in your list and also give you a little sense of achievement – instead of the high impact things that will take a longer time but will barely reduce that list at all.
Here’s what you need to do:
Start every day by finding the three most important things on that list. These will not necessarily be urgent things, but they will be the things that make a big impact in the longterm. Write those in the “Big Impact Work Tasks” section at the top of the daily page in your journal.
Now use the Daily Planner (right hand page) to work out where you will fit those things into your day, around meetings and other commitments (and a 30-minute lunch, at least).
Once you’ve done that, look at all those smaller items on your list that need to be done today (only the ones due today) and write those down in your notes section or even on a separate page in your other notebook. Your job, by the end of the day, is to complete only those things you’ve written down. The rest of your list will get the same treatment tomorrow.
If you have time to do anything else (maybe a meeting cancels or you get through the tasks in less time than you expected), then drag that big list out again and get some of tomorrow’s tasks done.
If you’ve got personal lists as well, then put the high impact things into the ‘Home & Relationships’ and ‘Self’ Sections on the right-hand page.
Type Three: The Digital Warrior
You are completely digital. You might even be wondering why you got this stupid analogue Planner in the first place. But did you know that the physical act of writing improves learning, creativity and memory retention?
You have a couple of options. Firstly, as for the List Maker above, scan all of your tasks for the top three things that you can do today that will make a big difference. These might be pieces of big projects that you’ve been neglecting or single tasks that are important, but not urgent. Take these and write them into you ‘Big Impact Work Tasks’ on the top of the righthand page. Then place them as appointments in your electronic calendar today.
Now, scan again for all the urgent things that need to get done today. I mean NEED to get done today. You can either write them in the notes section like the List Maker above or you can assign them to today in your electronic calendar or task list.
The biggest problem with electronic lists is that they are hard to un-see. Even though you schedule things for today when you switch to Month view on your calendar, you see the126 other tasks…. and you can get distracted. Again, your tendency will be to do easy things(including answering emails, because your inbox looks like its own ‘task list’).
Try to stay focused only on today. When you’re done with everything from today’s calendar, then start looking at tomorrow’s.
Type Four: The Hybrid
You have stuff everywhere. Your tasks might be dispersed between post-it notes, diaries, notebooks and the back of your hand. You sometimes clean out your bag when you get home and find a scrap of paper with a task on it that you forgot.
First things first – get everything in one place. Whether you choose to be the List Maker or the Digital Warrior, or even the Focus Journal devotee, just get everything into one place.
Then… and only then… follow the steps above.
A Word on Big Projects:
When you allocate your ‘Big Impact Work Tasks’ for the day, you might choose to spend some time working on projects …. They might be big and they clearly aren’t going to get finished in one day. Be clear about how much of that project you are going to get done today. Scope out what’s possible – when you leave it open-ended it can hijack your time and you'll fall behind on other things.