Over the years as my productivity method has evolved the system I have used has changed. I have bounced between trying to use various digital systems, to using various planner and notebook systems. In the course of all of this I have found a use for digital tools as well as paper and pens as parts of my system.
My Current System
- Google Calendar
- Disc bound planner
- Disc bound notebook
- Pocket notebook / Index Cards
I use Google Calendar to capture any appointments that are a week or more out. I only look at the calendar at the month level. I also set repeating events here, and basically forget about them until I need to add them to my weekly planner.
Disc Bound Planner
My planner is a disc bound planner. I use Staples’ disc bound system with pages from the D*I*Y Planner system. I find this system extremely flexible. My planner has the following sections:
- Middle Way Method Outline
- Mission and Vision Statement
- Weekly Sheets
- Journal Pages
- Health Journal
- Blank Pages
I throw away the weekly pages as each week is finished and I transfer the journal pages to my notebook as I finish them.
Disc Bound Notebook
I use my notebook for long-term notes. I keep notes about blogging ideas, projects, books I want to read in this notebook. This is my memory. It captures thoughts and plans. This way I forget fewer ideas.
Index Cards / Pocket Notebook
Everyday I look at my planner and write tasks and appointments on a page. I also write notes in it. I am using a notebook I found for a couple of dollars. I have used index cards for this as well. I like the index cards for their more free form structure, but they get loose fairly often which does not help.
My Planning Process
My planning process is a series of processes:
- Creating and maintaining mission and vision statements
- Setting and achieving goals
- Keeping a journal
- Capturing information
- Weekly Review
- Daily Review
- Creating a Custom System
I use the following system weekly and daily to work each of these processes:
- Create / Edit / Review Mission and Vision Statements
- Review Last Week and Journal using the following prompts:
- What goals did I achieve?
- What challenges did I face?
- Decide which roles to focus on
- Identify physical, mental, spiritual, and social goals for self-improvement
- Process notes, and information into the system
- Review / Edit / Create projects (Long term, multiphase goals)
- Review Calendar
- Prioritize daily tasks
This system works for me. It has been the most stable of my systems, lasting through life changes. It uses some of the advantages of a digital system, and the simplicity of paper based planning. It also has let me divide my system into distinct levels of focus. This makes it possible to focus.
I use a couple of rules when working, which I have learned over time:
- Each Day Pick 3 large tasks and 2 small tasks to carry out.
- Use a timer to create distinct work / relax time. I use a 25 minute work followed by 5 minute break.
I still feel that the most important part of my system is the mission and vision statements. These provide the basis for improvement. They tell me who I am now, and who I want to become. If I want I change course at any time so knowing where I am going is helpful. It provides direction.
I have tried various sizes of moleskin type notebooks. These can make great tools, I have just come to like the disc bound notebooks better.