Time Management

Bushwhacking for Hipsters Side Trip: Being Perfect

It's ten a.m. on a cold, grey morning, and I've gotta tell y'all: the weather mirrors my mood today. We were all up way too late last night watching movies and playing with art stuff (we've got my roommate's 9-year-old this weekend), so this morning, I was a little...uh....out of sorts.

I was slogging through doing the dishes from dinner (I do all the prep work before I get started in the mornings, so I don't have to knock off early from making artstuff to do all of that,) and things were just Not Going Well inside the ol' brain cavity. I was ticked off that my roommate left dishes in my sink again (despite begging, explaining, gentle reminders, a good example, and downright ultimatums). I was tired and upset that I hadn't finished up with a project that I'm supposed to be working on. And after I sat down in the computer chair to look at what DID get done yesterday, I was -livid- to find that most of what I managed to put together yesterday was "worthess".

Weekday Planner

A request from my mother, a schoolteacher. This is a weekday planner in the D*I*Y Planner 2.5 style. six large boxes, Monday - Friday (no hour markings) with a Notes/Next week box.

Usage advice: 

Good for teachers and students to keep track of the week's activities.

Paper size: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
PDF Reader (Adobe Reader, Mac OS X Preview)

Bushwhacking for Hipsters #7: Finding Travel Companions

By now, if you’ve been following along with every week’s article in the series, you’ve probably got some idea of where you’re going and how to get there. Your list of goals and actions are nearby, and you’ve got some room to work on them after you’ve decluttered your physical space. Just by itself, that planning can be motivating and powerful.

However, one of the things I’ve found, now that I’m starting to tick off line items on the master list with some regularity, is that all this traveling along the road can be a little bit isolating. Since many of my personal goals with this endeavor are just that -- personal -- and since the time it takes to both set them up and undertake them is considerable, sometimes it feels just a little bit like I’ve been put in some kind of social Time Out, with my face in the corner while the rest of the party of life goes on.

While a large part of that isolation is a matter of attitude (I’m not really isolated as much as I’m just productively busy in a good way), the feeling does seem to be relatively common. So I decided this week to talk a bit about finding ways to continue your forward momentum without having to live inside a box of your own making.

Quater Hour Daily Time Management

This is a time management form which I originally got from my coach from www.ladd.co.za I am ADD and I need to watch how I manage my time closely. This was created using the widget kit and Open Office Draw. Its still a work in progress, but hey! Isn't everything.

Usage advice: 

A daily planner divided into 15 minute segment. There are three columns, Personal, Business, and Actual. Start your day by visualizing and planning the day, using the Personal and Business columns, thereafter fill in what you actually did during your day. I also review the day at the end of the day and fill in an earnings matrix to follow my sales.

Paper size: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
PDF Reader (Adobe Reader, Mac OS X Preview)

Project Emphasis (Classic/A5 Form)

Sometimes people are a little over-eager. They mindmap or otherwise brainstorm amazing project ideas, then rush blindly into trying to outline the project or its resources. In doing so, they miss an important step: deciding upon the project emphasis. I've recently realised that there is no template within the D*I*Y Planner project that adequately addressed that need. Well, until now.

An experienced project manager will often pass through three phases:

  1. Brainstorming, either alone or with a group (usually with lists or mindmaps)
  2. Outlining possible objectives and deliverables
  3. Structuring the project, starting with the "big picture" view, and delving down into the individuals tasks and details as needed

Project Emphasis formThe deceptively simple Project Emphasis template is used to help determine the scope of a project or venture, what would best indicate success, and what the priorities are. Thus, it's meant to address the second phase.

The columns on the form are:

  1. Objective: A focussed and achievable objective for your project or organisation. For example, "Improve job quote turnaround time."
  2. Indicator: What would be an indicator that this objective was successfully reached? For example, "Quotes in one day or less, guaranteed."
  3. Pr: The priority of the objective. Use 1-10 or A-E, or whatever you normally use to assign priorities.
  4. Current: What the current state of this objective is, if any. For example, "2-3 days turnaround." Use "N/A" for Not Applicable, which may be the case if it's a brand new venture.
  5. Target: What is the ultimate target number, volume, cost, or milestone mark for the objective? Be precise. For example, "5 work hours from receiving request."

Bushwhacking for Hipsters #6: A Little Side-Trip

Every journey seems to have unexpected “side trips”, where, despite your best intentions, you move off-target and find yourself in a place you hadn’t planned on.

At times, these deviations from your path can feel like lead weights, keeping you from moving closer to your goals. And at others, those side trips can be the defining moments of your trip, letting you stop a while and get the full experience of being on the road.

This week, my own journey of life planning was completely detoured. Between the holidays and some very vocal naysayers, I pulled over into a rest area and watched the traffic go by.

This downtime was far from unproductive, however. While I wasn’t moving consciously in the direction of my dreams, or even following the road map on the wall at all, really, my unexpected pit stop led me back to something I’ve known for a long time, and hadn’t really internalized in regard to this current journey.

A New Job, A New System

I look upon new jobs as great opportunities to tweak one's planning system. In fact, it's one of the only times I feel truly justified in sitting down, working out my time management strategies, and implementing a new way of doing things. After all, with different responsibilities, different personnel, and a different organisational structure to fit into, one can't rely on the "tried and true". Yes, take what you can from it, but be prepared to burn it all down and build it all back up again.

My new position is as a project manager with a long-established company, and I have a tremendous amount of responsibility to make sure that projects are done on time and on budget: if I mess up, my job and reputation are on the line, and it reflects badly on the company. It means I have to be that much more careful about keeping track of things, and making sure my team is working as efficiently as possible. It probably comes as no surprise that I'm putting the D*I*Y Planner system to good use. Herewith, my current setup.

Bushwhacking for Hipsters #5: Backward Brainstorms

Most of the time, I have no problem setting goals. I can even set SMART goals, like we talked about last week, that have deadlines and measurable progress indicators, with no problem whatsoever, if I have a clear idea of what it is that I want.

My problem, and I’m finding that I’m not alone with it, is that once those goals and pictures are in place and written down, I have absolutely no idea what to do first. It’s like I’m faced with a room full of possibility, and some imaginary authority figure says in a booming voice, “PICK ONE....”. I can only do one thing at a time, of course, and even though I know where I want to go, I’m really not sure what would be the most logical and/or most effective first step in getting there.

There are a few ways I’m circumventing the idea of overwhelming choice that tends to immobilize me. Two of which, I’d like to share with you, in case you’re also feeling a little bit like you’ve got an insurmountable mountain to climb to get from here to there.

Modding the D*I*Y Planner: Text Changes and Translations

Lately, I've been going back and re-reading many of the site comments in preparation for the Widget Kit specifications. As you probably know (if you've been around here a while), the D*I*Y Planner project has been created in the spirit of true "do-it-yourself-ness," and it occurs to me that many of the requests I see are easily accomplished by almost anybody with access to the right software. In other words, you don't need to be an OpenOffice.org guru, or a graphic designer, to handle many of the smaller things that people ask for on a regular basis. I've decided to start a small (and infrequent) series on "modding" the D*I*Y Planner templates for the most common purposes. Today, I'm going to cover textual changes, such as those required for producing translations and changing page headers.