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A solution to shrinking planning times

Priority Pad

What does a day’s work consist of?

A weakness of all planning calendars, whether hard copy or electronic, is that they allow you to schedule and list more work than you can possibly get done in a week. We probably all know that we should not attempt more than a day’s work in any given day; because to do a so causes anxiety and stress and makes us more vulnerable to distractions and inattentiveness. And when you have more to do in a week than you can possibly get done, priorities frequently take a back seat to quantity as you attempt to get as many things done as possible.

One solution to the problem would be to take one day at a time, listing only those priorities and urgent items that could reasonably be done in a day. However it is difficult to know what comprises a day’s work.

When determining a day’s work, take into consideration the length of your working day, the interruptions that you anticipate, and the type of activities you will be involved in – and always allow up to 50% more time that you estimate your activities will take.

The Daily Priority Pad helps you to limit to the essential priorities, important tasks and urgent activities to those that can be done in one day. This one-day-at-a-time approach allows greater focus, facilitates the changing priorities that occur during the week, help us to quickly learn from experience what a day’s work really is, and frees your mind from those items that need only be addressed at a later date.

It can be used either in conjunction with or independent of an annual planner. When used with an annual planner, such as the Taylor Planner or an electronic device with a week at a glance format, each page in the Daily Priority Pad is the day’s action plan distilled from the broader weekly plan outlined in your planner.

When used independently, normally by those individuals unable to realistically schedule activities as far as a week in advance, it replaces the annual planner.

This short range planning tool is needed in today’s working environment where the time between planning and action is becoming shorter each year, and in which the choices available to us are increasing exponentially.

The Daily Priority Pad retains the priority and “to do” sections of the Taylor Planner, while limiting scheduled activities to a few appointments – either with others or yourself, and provides a “Notes” section for a limited amount information  or journaling. The Daily Priority Pads can be viewed and ordered at our website home page, taylorintime.com.

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The return of the notepad

Priority Pad

A simple notepad on steroids might be all you need

Research shows that things left undone cause stress. And an expanding to do list, which never seems to empty, is a constant reminder of all the things left undone – important or otherwise. This is true whether it is a hardcopy or electronic list.

If we had only today’s work to contend with – and had closure at the end of each day – we wouldn’t experience the anxiety that so many people are experiencing. This is especially true in today’s environment where we seem to have an endless series of things to do.

To add to our woes, prioritizing is more difficult, since priorities often change on a daily basis. It’s virtually impossible to list things in order of priority and have them stay that way.

One executive recently reported online that he had solved this problem by switching back to something he had used as a child – a pen and notepad. He felt it gave him more control than the various apps he had tried. And he can jot down the things he has to do on a daily basis.

Most people seem to experience the same problem. I solved it in my life by developing the Taylor Planner some 30 years ago; but some people feel their jobs are too volatile to actually schedule blocks of time in their planners, electronic or otherwise, and stick to a fixed schedule.

My son, Jason, is one of those people. Besides managing a restaurant and operating a website design business, he also runs the day to day operations of our Taylor in Time partnership. He extended the notebook idea to form a Daily Priority Pad (available in two sizes) which allows him to start each day with a clean slate. It’s a cross between a plain note pad and an actual planning calendar – with space for the day’s priorities, things that must be done that day, appointments, and follow-ups arising from phone calls and email messages and room for notes. It even has a Back Burner section where he can park items that come up during the day that can wait until the next day or later.

I tried using it myself, and it works well. But I had two or three pages going at the same time since I’m in the habit of spreading my total workload throughout the week. So I reverted back to the paper planner. But I can see that this simple planning pad can be more than enough when you also use a handheld device or tablet to organize most of your week.

One thing is certain. Regardless of how much you’re into technology, you can’t get away from using paper – even it involves jotting notes on scraps of paper or sticky notes until you get a chance to record the information into your smartphone or laptop. So you might as well do it in an organized manner, all in one place.

You can take a look at this new Daily Priority Pad at our website, taylorintime.com. You can even watch a brief video that Jason uses to explain how it works – and print off sample pages at our website as well. No sense in fretting about the things you have to do in the future. Take one day at a time.

 

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The Best of Both Worlds

paper planner with electronic

paper planner with electronic

How to use a paper planner in combination with an electronic planner (iPhone, iPad, Android etc.)

I mentioned in a previous article that there are at least 5 ways a paper planner is better than an electronic one. Of course there are many ways digital is better than paper but for now let’s look at one example that makes them even better when used together.

I don’t think we have to go into the hundreds of things that an electronic device is amazing at – searching, sharing, connectivity, checking email, setting repeating events, copying and pasting, alarms and reminders etc., etc. on and on. But we need to be honest about one thing, no matter how committed you are to your gadget you still use paper! And in here lies a problem. Let’s look at a couple scenarios and then look at how paper and gadget can work together.

The Telephone

Let’s say you’re on the phone with a client, the client is speaking a mile a minute about what they need from you, obviously you’re making notes of some kind (unless you are relying on your memory, yikes!!). So the big question here is what are you making the notes on? In a lot of cases your planner is your phone so you’re certainly note making note on it! Even the most ardent techies still jot things down on paper, it’s just easier. The problem is what paper are you jotting the notes onto? A scratch pad? Sticky notes? Scraps of paper? And then what? Then you have to transcribe all these notes a second time into your gadget? What a waste of time! Or do you just make a nice neat pile of these scrappy notes and refer to them throughout the day to see if you’ve forgotten anything? Not only is that a waste of time, it’s a completely disorganized way to work. A better way is to have a planner that offers space to write all the important notes of the conversation directly into it. This way you write it once and it’s organized with all your other important information.

Email

Here’s another scenario. You turn on your device and check your email. The first email you open is a note from a client that says “Please send me a detailed estimate later today and call me at 956-242-6887 after you send it.” So there are two important things you need to remember 1) you need to spend an hour creating an estimate and 2) you need to email it and follow up with a phone call.

So how do you deal with this information? Are you actually going to take the time to exit your email program, launch your calendar app and create a new appointment and copy and paste the email into it? Maybe, but I doubt it. More likely you will a) rely on your memory (yikes again!) b) print the email and add it to the other pile of forgotten work c) Mark the email as unread and deal with it later or d) jot the information on a scrap of paper. The most organized option is to have a planner that offers space for this type of information. You simply jot down “estimate for John, call 956-242-6887” and you’re done! Now that important task is in the “real” world and not out of site out of mind. It’s in your planner for today which is opened or visible on your desk.

You can still keep all your appointments in your device with reminders set easily accessible from anywhere by you or your team, but your must do items and all the important information collected during the day is neat and tidy in your task planner sitting on your desk. Your planner acts as a nag, always in sight always in mind, and you’re always organized.

The takeaway from this article is that you DO use paper so just make sure the paper you are using keeps you organized and not scattered and flustered searching for things whether in the real world or the electronic one. The best paper for the job is a planner with dedicated space to capture this type of information. The old grid-style time planners just don’t cut it anymore. Times have changed and so should your planner. Check out the Daily Priority Pad as a great option for merging high tech with paper.