Successful Planning Tips

This is a vague collection of tips to help you become successful in using your D*I*Y Planner and chosen methodology.

  • Carry your planner everywhere. This is your outboard brain. You wouldn't want to leave home without your brain, would you?
  • Make sure you fill out the Profile form at the beginning of the planner. If you lost your mind, wouldn't you like somebody to return it?
  • There are so many possibilities for using the templates in this package that the sheer number of options can be intimidating, even paralysing. My best advice: start small, and build up your planner as needed.
  • Put aside a few hours of dedicated time to 'move in' before you start to seriously use your planner. Enter birthdays, main contacts and the next month of appointments. Fill your zip pouch with stamps, paper clips, blank tab labels and quarters. Create a few personal lists, like 'To Buy' or 'Old friends to locate'. Refresh yourself on each project by filling out the pertinent project, goals or objectives forms. Make a Checklist of 'Things to put in my planner' and keep it in the Misc Lists tab; as you come up with each new thing you want, jot it down. Whenever you have spare time, move more contacts, appointments and reference lists into the planner until you have everything you need on a daily basis.
  • Planners, especially paper-based ones, aren't just for planning. They're also for dreaming. Sketch ideas, keep a journal, make doodles of people and brainstorm about your perfect life. Who knows where your next project will come from? Keep a yellow-dot tab for Ideas if you need to.
  • Stick to your reviews religiously. Check your red-dot tabs (Actions, etc.) at least once every single day, preferably first thing in the morning; refresh at the end of day. Ensure that projects won't stall: always write down the next action or two and keep the momentum going. Green-dot tabs should be reviewed weekly, and your Actions sheets should be populated appropriately. Yellow-dot tabs should be reviewed at least once per month, or whenever you have some spare time and are feeling creative. Blue-dot tabs are for reference, and should be reviewed when you need to find filed-away information.
  • Keep Actions small, doable, and short-term. Putting anything too big or too vague (like 'Plan for wedding', 'Paint a masterpiece', or 'Do website') will stick on your list forever and only inspire fear and procrastination. What is the first small step I need to do to keep this project moving forward? Got it? Good! Write it down.
  • Avoid bulk at all costs. Each extra ounce is another reason not to carry your planner. Resist the urge to fill it with all kinds of templates that you won't use. This may be your biggest challenge if you're just getting started with this system.
  • Write down everything of note into the pages of your Inbox if you're not sure where else to put it. Move it into the correct section as soon as possible, rewriting or summarising as necessary
  • Keep your Inbox empty. This is one of the hardest, but most productive, disciplines to master.
  • The first of every month, clear out all the information and projects you no longer need. File them away for safe-keeping and later reference.
  • Everybody is different; this system is only a recommendation and not set in stone. You shouldn't feel afraid to customise your planner when the need arises. After all, if it doesn't serve your purposes, you won't use it. It should be in a continual state of evolution, adapting to your environment and shedding unused features. Think thoroughly about any modifications, though, just in case there's a risk of lessening your productivity.
  • If you're a disciple of David Allen, read a section of the book (Getting Things Done) every week. Not only will this provide you with more organisational tips and inspiration, it'll help keep GTD methods in the front of your mind.

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