Advanced planning…

I picked up a 2015 year planner for my Filofax while in Selfridges yesterday. I’ve been working on some big, long-term projects (more on that in a few months) lately, and I’ve noticed that looking at the year on a single sheet of paper is actually more helpful than on screen.

Even the 21″ screen of my iMac.

Having used my 2014 planner to good effect, I picked up one for next year, as some of my projects definitely spill over into 2015.

Most helpful? Seeing ‘blocked out’ days that are either already spoken for or are spent on a plane. I’m definitely not noting exactly what I’m doing on each day – that detail still goes into my calendar on my iPhone/iPad/iMac. But for a top-down view of my general business and key deadlines, paper can’t be beat.

Planning your week is very, very useful. Reviewing your month also. But seeing your entire year, its commitments and – for me, anyway – where free spots are, to facilitate travel to far-flung lands, is incredibly useful. Seriously though, it’s too easy to over-commit or be too optimistic about what you can actually do without a higher-level view of time.

I’d never (if I can help it!) book in two full weeks of training delivery, for example – as it just keeps me away from the ‘office’ and the day to day admin that needs to be done in a business. All that stuff piles up in the background. Looking at my calendar only from week to week means this could actually happen!

David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’ methodology reminds us to look up from the immediate tasks level on a regular basis. It’s a really useful way to remain mindful of longer term commitments and goals. A pure focus on tasks to be done in the here and now means we’re unlikely to ensure we achieve goals most important to us.

I’ve been playing around with the year view for a few months now. It’s not a replacement for iCal, and couldn’t accommodate the level of detail I put into my electronic calendar. But for getting a bird’s eye view of commitments and free time, I can highly recommend it. I’m not a fan of writing and re-writing things: be it to-do lists or calendar entries. So only the most important and key deadlines go in here.

And I’m even using colours. Which is most unlike me! But it helps me tell what’s what on such a small page. Green for confirmed client work, red for ‘blocked out’ or ‘busy’ time and yellow for my holidays. The latter is quite motivating! I’m counting down the days until our next trip to Japan. But I can also see the relatively ‘dead’ time around the Christmas holidays and other Bank Holidays.

This is not me moving to paper full-time – I couldn’t live without my gadgets – but for high-level planning, I can really recommend the year planner approach.

  1. Thanks for this! I’m a fan of GTD and I love my gadgets but also my paper stuff too – I think probably anything that could fuel being more organised or productive is a winner for me!
    I bought a cheap filo earlier in the year but have struggled to incorporate it into my work life yet, with the exception of using the task lists for scribbling down actions from meetings. This is an interesting idea to have a high level view. Also, you remind me I haven’t been doing my GTD weekly reviews… 😉

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    1. Weekly reviews have saved my skin more times than I can count! Such a good idea.

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      1. Feel that way about email to zero and 2 min rule – though I left my inbox at 70 on Friday. Well, I guess I know what I’ll be doing today… 😉

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