I love to tinker with my productivity system. At first it actually was a project in my system: “Set up the productivity system.” But I soon realized that all the tinkering and no doing wasn’t getting me any closer to done. So I have resisted the urge to tweak for some time. Occasionally, if I see something that really might be useful, I’ll do a limited trial, but I usually revert to the old comfort zone.
I am a die-hard PDA user, and I love my technology. But I found that I get more done when it is on paper. I haven’t analyzed the whys and wherefores of that yet, but I accept it as truth.
About a month ago, I was asked to take a look at a new paper form from the makers of the Bubble Planner. I love their planner as I really think creatively when using it, and their daily sheet I have used as an implementation of closed lists for some time. The new sheet, the Weekly Plan, was very useful, but I found I wanted a daily version…basically a bubble list with a schedule. So I set out to make one.
The New Form
I will make the form available on the blog site under the ebooks section. But for right now, let’s look at it.
There are several sections to this form. In the upper left corner is my focus for the day (1). Below that is my calendar (2). To the right of that is my context/planning area. I have four major groups in the context (3) and two places to plan (4). On the far right side (5) is the future area.
The focus area is something I decide on for each day. I may spend a day concentrating on crafts, or writing, or technology. Or enriching relationships. I try to assign the focus based on my schedule, making sure to balance the areas of my life. (In the example I don’t have it filled in.)
In the calendar area, I highlight my working hours, then fill in the meetings. I find it gives me a visual picture of the day, and what I may need to get done between working and the next appointment.
In the context areas, there are three columns. I use the first one to distinguish “sub-contexts”. In the Home example, I stands for Inside and O for Outside. I can then group things together based on where I am. The second column I use to indicate tasks that have migrated from my backlog. They are generally listed in the bottom section of each context (see full picture). After each grouping of items for the day, I draw a line to indicate the closed list. If I do something else in the context, it gets written in below the line. I can keep track of what I am doing that I hadn’t planned this way. Each item, as completed, gets highlighted. This gives me real satisfaction.
This last chunk I use to brainstorm projects. For example, if I were to plan out an afghan I would probably write in “Choose colors”, “buy yarn”, “pick pattern” and so on.
Anything I think of during the day goes in this area. At a few times during the week I put them into my Bonsai system.
How Does the PDA Fit In?
You may think I have given up my PDA in favor of this form, but that is not the case. I still use Bonsai as my main planning tool, and the lists get populated from the To Do application. Backlog items are in there, undated, and the closed list items are dated for the day. The PDA is still my main repository; the paper just helps me see it all at one time. Plus, I just love crossing things off and seeing how much I’ve done.