Friday, January 22, 2016

Why Tracking Pages Didn't Work For Me

I'm on a quest for a planning system that will work for this very unpredictable phase of life.  My last attempt was tracking pages.

I discovered these pages quite a while ago and was instantly overwhelmed.  But after watching a couple of videos by MaryAnne Moll in which she explained how she does it, I decided they might be a good solution to my chaotic schedule.  Instead of making a daily to-do list, I would simply record what I did in pre-determined boxes on my planner pages.

So I printed off Maryanne's pages from her Etsy shop (paperloveforever) and tried to use them exactly the way she did.
It was a good way to get started, but it didn't work very long.  The thing with tracking box planning is that it's extremely personal.  You can get the hang of it using someone else's template but then it's probably going to work better if you personalize it to match your life.  MaryAnne has a page that allows you to do just that.

So I tweaked the left side and made a new right side.
And then I tweaked it again and re-made the left page, too.
That still wasn't quite right so I made more changes.
By then I was completely overwhelmed so I went back to MaryAnne's site and downloaded this page to try.
I used this one about 2 hours and knew it wasn't going to work for me.  I have to have two pages per day.  I tried inserting a blank page in between each spread but I didn't like that.

I modified the tracking page one more time.
I was really pleased with this one.  It reflected my goals and priorities extremely well.  But I discovered that I need a full page for notes.  That little column on the left isn't nearly enough.

So, I went back to my Franklin Covey two pages per day - at least for now.  And I realized I actually do "track" on those pages.  MaryAnne talks about one benefit of tracking being the ability to retrieve information quickly because you know exactly where to find it.  That's the way I use my Franklin Covey pages.
My menu is at the top of the page.  The weather is at the top left.  The task list is in the task list section.  I've recently been recording finances in the daily tracker.  Appointments are in the appointments column.  Reminders go at the top of the schedule page (like birthdays or any other special events I want to remember but that don't directly affect me), My husband is self-employed and his work schedule and any personal mileage are recorded at the top of the right page.  All notes go on the right page.  When I need to look back, I know exactly where to look. So I've actually been "tracking" for a long time.

By my Franklin Covey hasn't been working for me for a while.  I either need a different system or a different way to use it that works for my unpredictable schedule.  So in the meantime, I'm looking into the GTD method of getting things done.  I've been looking at other people's set-ups and reading articles about the system.  A friend who uses GTD suggested I actually read David Allen's book and learn about the technique first hand instead of reading about it second hand.  That made perfect sense so that's what I'm doing now.
Based on what I've learned so far, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to use GTD with my Franklin Covey.  I'll keep you posted on the results of this latest experiment . . .

NOTE:  I LOVE MaryAnne's pages.  Even though they didn't work for me, they are a great way to manage your time and life and are more fun than traditional methods.  So if your current system isn't working, give them a try.  And for the record, I am not receiving any compensation from MaryAnne.  I just like her products.


  1. I'll be very interested to see how you use the Franklin Covey pages with GTD. That sounds very promising. And I agree that we can get lost in tracking. Planners have to work for forward planning and information retrieval both.

    1. They do. And that balance is really important. Mary Anne does a good job with her format - I just haven't figured out how to get it to do all that for me. I'm not as detailed as she is. That's probably part of my problem.

  2. I use some GTD stuff and reject some. It's too detailed for my life, but it is a great place to start thinking about how to handle incoming information.

    1. I agree. I was thinking about your projects section. That's definitely GTDish.

  3. Great post. I have read GTD and applied a lot of it but in a way that suits how I plan. Have to say it's been a great start to 2016 implementing the changes :)

  4. I use GTD as well as FC's 2PPD -- it requires some tweaking but it works!

  5. If you have unpredictable schedule, the only solution is to keep rewriting the schedule. So the only solution is to have more paper to rewrite the schedule.
    GTD kid very helpful to understand how to process the information that we have to process. It is useful to divide tasks into different categories, for example. I used it forva while, and still use it when I need it.

    1. That's actually a brilliant statement, Clara.

      You said you use it when you need it . . . what constitutes needing it?

  6. Reading the GTD book is a good start. As you can see just from the comments, many people take bits and pieces of GTD, rarely the system itself. Reading about other people's implementation before understanding the system will likely lead you to not really using GTD at all, but a modification of it. Nothing bad about that, but doing so may cause you to miss some good parts of GTD (that may be very applicable to you) that others may have discarded.
    There was an updated version released last year --- not that much different though.

    1. That's what my friend said, too.

      I actually have the updated book on my Kindle and that's the one I'm reading.

      Do you use it?

  7. It enables a business to track payload from the purpose of birthplace and directly through to its goal. CCM Services