The One Thing You Need To Get Things Done

by Pat Hammond on Friday, February 02, 2018

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  Queen City Buzz HQ, Manchester, NH

The Secret to My Sanity A.K.A. How I Stay on Top of Things

After spending the entire month of January putting out fires, that's figurative, not literal, I thought it might be a good idea to share my number one, can't-live-without-tool for staying organized and getting things done.

Are you ready?

It's a super simple, user-friendly, weekly planner. And I'm giving it away for FREE!!!

Yup, the Queen Bee, lover of all things tech (former) web dev uses a piece of paper and a pen to make managing multiple projects do-able.

And before someone clicks on the contact form and asks what about January, I'd like to point out that January was an extraordinary worse case scenario, like Defcon 1, incoming missiles from every border. It had nothing to do with organization and everything to do with a sleazy, money-grubbing web host trying to shake down a poor small business owner, namely me.

I'd even go a step further and say that if I wasn't so organized, my own version of small business hell, otherwise known as the events of January, would have sent me over the edge. I will admit that I came dangerously close, but I did manage to stay this side of sane without blowing a gasket, so it's all good. (Full disclosure, there was a lot of swearing and Mr. Wonderful thought he saw my head do a full 360, but I didn't burn any bridges and I eventually got most things up and running.)

Which brings me back to the planner.

It's no secret that I'm a planner junkie and over the years I've borrowed and modified numerous organizational systems to fit my needs.

My standard starting point is this year's goals --> monthly goals, which are a breakdown of steps to accomplish this year's goals --> weekly tasks, which break down monthly steps into individual action items. 

I favor simple frameworks that give me a quick snapshot of where I am, where I need to be, and how today's activities are going to get me there.

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I've tried popular systems like David Allen's Getting Things Done, but I can't stick to a system that feels like I'm spending more time managing the system than actually getting things done, so I came up with my own system that includes a snapshot of:

  • This week's meetings & appointments
  • Weekly recurring tasks
  • A section for tracking specific tasks like drinking water, working out, etc...
  • Status, goals or tasks for 3 projects - These don't have to be work projects, they could be your kitchen renovation, little league team, or anything that has an extended commitment of resources
  • Misc. tasks & one-off things that have to get done this week, but don't fit into a project
  • People to call or email

It sounds like a lot, but I find it helpful to be able to see all of my project status and next items, as well as everything else I need to get done on one page.

The back of the page is blank.  That is where I write the daily tasks.

I have a tendency to overcommit so I have to be rigid about limiting myself to no more than 10 tasks per day, and those tasks should reflect the recurring tasks, meetings, or next items from the front.

This is the system that works for me. It's pretty basic and I could probably program a digital version, but knowing me it would snowball into a big project management system that links to calendars, and multiple users, and IFTTT scenarios. It would become the kind of complex system that I hate and I'd never get anything done, so I'll stick with the weekly pen and paper plan. If nothing else, it doesn't require an internet connection and I'll never have to worry if it will work with Linux.

If you're looking for a simple, no-nonsense planner that will keep you focused on what you need to get done this week so you can move on to the next step next week, download the pdf and give it a try.

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