Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Simple Strategy for Being Productive

For years I semi-faithfully used my Franklin Covey compact planner with reasonable success. It wasn't perfect or even awesome but it worked well enough.  Then life went crazy and I started experimenting. I've tried the Bullet Journal, DIY Fish Life Mapping (awesome system), an assortment of miscellaneous pages including quite a few from Planner Fun (also awesome), Mark Forster's Auto Focus, a little GTD, Filofax two pages per day,, traveler's notebook using forms from Ray Blake (also great forms) and even plain old blank paper.  I've even played around with iPhone apps including Wunderlist, Todoist, Task Labels and a bunch of others.  But nothing is working.  

So I had a conversation with my super organized husband and asked his opinion on what needs to be done.  In a nutshell, he said:

"You need a written plan.  When something comes up to de-rail you, take care of it and then get back on track. Without a plan, you're just drifting and you'll never get anything done."

What's interesting about this advice is that it's the advice I've always given other people. I've stressed over and over and over the importance of having a written plan.  But somewhere along the way, I stopped making a plan.  I decided it wasn't worth the effort since I couldn't follow it anyway.

Which brings us to another piece of advice my husband gives me often:

"You give up too easy." 

He's right.  I make a plan, and as soon as something comes up, instead of figuring out how to make my plan work, I give up and do none of it.  What a dummy!  If you break one egg, you don't throw the rest of the carton on the floor!  If your plans get changed, you don't throw out the whole list! Well, I do but it hasn't been a very effective strategy!!!

So my new strategy is:
  • Make a daily plan;
  • Figure out how to make it work regardless of what life throws my way; and
  • Get back on track as quickly as possible.
Now if I can just decide which format to use . . . 


  1. I too get sidetracked and my to-dos get put off. I'm really happy you are writing this blog Patty. Thank you. I was in a compact, switched to TN's (which I still really love but rings work better for me). I plan to use the TN's for other things. So now I'm in the FC Montecello 1 day on 2 pages. :)

  2. Thanks for the reminder to make the plan. I guess the point is to get things done, not to stress over how we write it down. The need for retrieving information is kind of different from forward planning and not always compatible, that's where I hang up (among all the other ways).

    1. That's exactly what my husband says, Christine. He says it doesn't matter how or where I write it down.

  3. Earlier this week I watched a webinar with Hyrum Smith (early creator of the Franklin Planner system), and he talked about a plan vs dealing with the unexpected during the time gap portion. Here's a link to the replay: He also shared that, while it's good to have an overview of your week, a daily plan is where it's at!

  4. Patty, isn't it amazing how something that had been working fine for years now suddenly didn't seem to be right because of all the options on the web and in the planner community? I was just like you - using a plain ol' ringed binder and whater week on two page inserts I found at Staples. And I just used them without thought or second-guessing. The last year and a half has seen me go through planner Hades and...for what? Asked myself lots of questions too and the answer was the same - pare down, simplify and go back to basics. Your FC planner set up was one of 3 I found on Youtube that was used the way a planner was meant to be used and not as a scrapbook full of stickers and washi. You were a great inspiration to me to get back on track and I know you'll be successful in your endeavors!

  5. I went through planner indecision and experimentation all 2015. I'm finally on track and I know what I have to do. I love my WO1P and DO1P in my personal size. It's easy to carry with me everywhere! No more surprises!