Analog / Digital

Keep the Ball Moving: Using Your Planner to Maintain Momentum

David Solot is a vice president and organizational development consultant working out of Princeton, NJ. He specializes in helping companies hire and develop top performers, using a combination of psychological assessments, individual coaching, and strategic planning tools. David holds a Masters Degree in clinical psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is an active member of both SHRM and the APA.


“The ball's in your court.” Regardless of our interest in sports, we've all heard and used that metaphor. Even in your day-to-day working environment. The meaning is pretty simple – it's your turn to act. You might be working on a project with peers and need to provide the next piece of data. You could be negotiating a deal over the phone and need to make the next call. You could be doing market research for a new product and need to pass along what you've learned. Whatever the topic may be, when the ball's in your court, it means you need to act.

The ability to handle the ball when it's in your court is critical to how your peers, your managers, and your clients perceive you. One of the worst mistakes you can make in business is to “drop the ball.” Like the original expression, you don't need to be an athlete to understand what this one means. When the ball's in your court and you drop it, you failed to act. Or failed to act appropriately. You may have gotten distracted and failed to make a critical phone call at the right time. You might have failed to give information to the key stakeholders by a required due date. You might have failed to sign the new contract sitting on your desk instead of getting it into the hands of your client. All these actions say one thing: You dropped the ball.

In this economy, our actions or inactions takes on a monumental level of importance. When times are good and sales are plentiful, dropping the ball can be a minor annoyance. When times are hard, however, each opportunity for your business or career becomes critical. Dropping the ball results in lost revenue, a lost job offer, or even the insidious downwards creep of your performance evaluation.

So you have the ball. It's in your court ... how do you handle it? With my clients and my employees, I teach two simple concepts for maintaining momentum.

mind.Depositor GTD to-do Template

A simple 4x6 in printable template for GTD to-do list.
Check out the DIY leather cover here: http://moleskine.vox.com/library/post/minddepositor-by-scrip...
and photos of the template here: http://moleskine.vox.com/library/post/minddepositor-index-ca...

Thumbnail: 
Scription_mind.Depositor.jpg
Usage advice: 

Select what kind of paper you wish to print on, either blank 4x6 paper or index cards of the same size. Use either the ruled or plain template accordingly. Easy to use: when things are done, check the box; when it is important, circle the stars or write your priority number inside the stars

Paper size: 
Other
License: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
Acrobat PDF Reader
Language: 
English

A Wonderful Halloween Treat from Renaissance Art

Happy Halloween everyone! I uncovered a special treat for all of us (and anyone who visits the new Renaissance Art blog, at: http://blog.renaissance-art.com/. Giveaways.

Starting next week, they're doing a weekly giveaway on their blog. Here are the details:

Cool Prototypes, seconds… even firsts…

We want to have some fun and so we thought we would start a weekly program where we give away all this stuff. So, here’s the deal:

1. Once a week on any random day
2. Starting the first week in Nov, 2008
3. We will post a prototype, a second, a first, an experiment… basically something we have made and give it away.
4. The first person to comment on it gets it… for free. Yes, we will post a pic although it will just be a working pic taken on one of our studio tables.
5. We’ll need a valid email address to work out the details of getting your prize to you. Each prize also includes free ground shipping in the lower 48 US states only. However, anyone in the world can feel free to play along. Who knows what you might win!

So come to our blog often cuz you never what we are going to post or when we will post it.

This offer is for everyone. You do not need to be a customer. We just hope that what we offer will be useful to you.

The same person can only win once in a month.

So go read through their posts, and watch the blog to see if you can win some of the fun items they make! I hope everyone has a ghoulish day today.

Semi-Auto, Perpetual . Planner Left Page - Classic Size Only

This form is and Excel template designed as a left hand planner page and includes an appointment list, an action item list and 3+ months of reference calendar.

There is easy user control to initialize the begining of the reference calendar and the date range for the daily calendar. Setup to print any number of days up to one week at a time.

Print your favorite Notes/Journal Pages on the backs and you are ready to get things done.

Small 1x1.4 inch pictures on each page provide for customization / inspiration.

Thumbnail: 
ClassicCalendar2a.jpg
Usage advice: 

Easy process. On the Instructions Tab, enter the begining date for the reference calendar and for the daily calendar set. Calendars are automatically set up.

Print the desired pages. Cut in half if using letter size paper. Print your favorite Journal/Notes page on the backs. Get work done.

Replace existing pictures with your own, or just delete them if you wish.

Used Dave Seah's reference calendar "engine" with some modifications.

You can include important dates on the tables tab and they will show up in the reference calendar.

Second Try at submital.

Paper size: 
Classic (5.5 x 8.5)
License: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
Microsoft Excel
Language: 
English

Planner Left Page Only- Classic Only - Calendar, Appointments, Tasks - Auto-dating

A semi-automated Excel based left page for two page per day planner systems .. print your favorite journal/note page on the back and you are ready to go. Includes 3+ month reference calendar and appointment schedule. Print up to 1 week at a time, you can pick the days. Key Dates can be flagged.

Small photos can be imbedded for each day of the week to allow user customization and inspiration.

Thumbnail: 
ClassicCalendar2a.jpg
Usage advice: 

Created with Excel 2003. I like Bright White 24# inkjet paper for strength, hand and resistance to bleeding ( I use fountain pens ). Setup for color, but could be easily tweeked for black&white.

Tested with Circa disks, but should be good for traditional binders.

Dates for the daily and reference calendars are set On the Instructions Tab and populate automatically.

Special dates are input on the Tables Tab using techniques demonstrated by David Seah's templates and receive special formating on the reference caledars.

Small photos (ultimate scaled size 1x1.4 inches)can be inserted on each of the 7 calendar pages. I have included a set of small sailboat pictures as a starting point. Photos can be deleted if not desired.

Process .. Print the calendar pages. Cut them in half. Print Journal/Note page on the backs.

Have Fun, Get stuff Done.

Paper size: 
Classic (5.5 x 8.5)
License: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
Microsoft Excel
Language: 
English

I Dood It (for Shris)

Here's a pair of quick-and-dirty "I Did" list templates for Shris based on the discussion over here: http://www.diyplanner.com/node/6151

Thumbnail: 
i-dood-it 2.jpg
Usage advice: 

Refer to this thread: http://www.diyplanner.com/node/6151

It is an editable template, so if you want to modify it, go for it.

Paper size: 
Classic (5.5 x 8.5)
License: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
Open Office
Language: 
N/A

What's your personal kit?

RenArt Moleskine+3x5In my post about my workplace gear, I noted that there had been a certain divergence between the gear I use in the office and the gear I use for my own personal and creative time. Essentially, the office gear is quite polished and uses a Circa system as a base, complete with fancy zip folio and plenty of DIYP forms, while my personal gear is far more... raw.

I've always maintained that structure is important when you have a lot to take on and keep organized, and having a well-built planner (whether digital or analogue) is key to that. But --although my home life does require some degree of organisation-- it's far less than the myriad projects I have to manage for work. In fact, some simple to-do lists and a calendar is about all I need, along with the occasional contact look-up. Thus, part of my kit is a few DiyP HipsterPDA Action cards and a month-view calendar. I copy down pertinent appointments and to-do items so that I can ferry them and sync with my other planner and online tools as needed.

A far bigger concern for me is creativity. Now, creativity comes in many forms, and that's one of the reasons why I created the DiyP Creative Pack, which is a separate pack in Classic and integrated into the HipsterPDA size pack. Having those prompts can help you manage plots, devise (and remember) characters, keep tabs on story props (like that elusive Holy Grail you keep losing), shuffle your storyboards (did Han shoot before or after?), and otherwise structure your ideas. So, part two of my kit: a selection of DiyP creative cards, which may vary according to the project I'm concentrating on.

Doane Paper Style Notecard

Doane paper (available at doanepaper.com) is the perfect fusion of note paper and graph paper. I have been using Doane Paper for most of my note taking for the past year, as have many people around the web. Of course, we can't always have a letter-sized pad handy at all times. So I set out to create a note card sized version of Doane Paper.

This note card has lines every quarter of an inch (allowing generous writing space) and grid lines every eighth of an inch. The result is a single notecard that is both a lined note card and a graph paper note card.

Finally, this card features a 1/8" margin all the way around the card, allowing for a markings to the side of your writing/drawing.

Thumbnail: 
doaneStyleCard.png
Usage advice: 

This note card is best printed using a color printer. I have posted a one up version of this card.

The writing lines are perfect for note taking and the grid lines make it easy to draw other forms, or just keep everything lined up.

Paper size: 
Index Card (3 x 5)
License: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
Acrobat reader, or any other PDF reader
Language: 
NA

A Digital Diatribe

iPod TouchThere's a corner of hell reserved for time management gadgets, and I've visited it often these past few months. Conceptually, the ability to manage appointments and to-do lists is so simplistic that 40 years of programming should have made this a no-brainer by now.

The scenario: I want the ability to keep my calendars and tasks in sync between my home, work and mobile gadget. Adding an item to one should propagate it to the others. I should be able to add simple notes, get access to info almost anywhere, and take advantage of the domain to copy and paste data from multiple digital sources. Now, don't get me wrong: I love me my paper planner, but there's only so much you can stuff in it at a time.