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I think many people avoid planning because they want to avoid pushing themselves into a corner or they feel they don’t have the time. They ramble through their days, constantly reminding themselves they have this to do or that to do and just do things as they rise to the attention level that mandates they do something. I used to be one of these people.
I’m not here to judge you. If you still operate this way, cool. I just found it has become easy to get a lot of things done, track everything, and cultivate a more organized, efficient, and productive way of doing things. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I ritualize everything and constantly look for new ways to become even more “automated”.
First, I’m a night owl. I start my new day at Midnight. This is when I do the bulk of my writing. The house is quiet, my inner muse is active, and the words just come. Subsequently, all of my writing tasks are between 12:00 Midnight – 2:00 AM. During this time, I knock out a section of my book, complete my blog posting for the day, work on any drafts of letters I am working on, along with any other writing on my radar. During this time I also do my planning for the day. I typically head to bed between 2 and 3 AM. I like to plan before I go to bed to take advantage of the subconscious mind’s ability to work on these things while I sleep. Later today, at 9 AM when I rise, I’ll dig right in and knock out the day.
I also take advantage of a technique called chunking. I write in a chunk right now. I learn in a chunk, moving through all the online courses and tutorials I am enrolled in. Finally, I read in a 1 and 1/2 hour chunk. The only thing I do not chunk is my exercise routine. This week that routine is 1 mini workout as soon as I get up, followed by a gym visit in mid-afternoon, and then ending with another mini-workout early evening.
Let’s talk about rituals for a moment. My rituals are trigger points, coupled with other trigger points. My first trigger is getting out of bed. Before I do anything, I do my first mini-workout. Meals trigger my next workouts. I workout at the gym after I eat lunch. I workout in the evening after I eat dinner. It’s a great way to settle the stomach and take advantage of those recently digested calories.
Meditation triggers the start of my day at Midnight. These triggers or antecedent events cause a cascade of events that are automatic. It took me a while to get in this position, but now that I am here, it is terrific. The day flows by smoothly.
That’s all fine and good, Dave, but what happens when your schedule gets blind-sided by something you have to take care of that is not in your ritualized day? This is when planning is most important.
Let’s say I have a project or a problem I’m need to solve. I plan thinking time to iron out what I will do. Note: Even when emergency problems arise, I take the time to think through a solution. Initially, I’ll brainstorm. Brainstorming is nothing more than writing every idea that comes to mind without judging or critiquing them. I enjoy using mind mapping software for this. Once I have all of my ideas down and cannot think of anything else, I look at all the potential solutions to my problem and choose the best course of action. Once I make a choice, I outline all the things that have to happen and organize them into a pecking order. Then, I transfer that outline to my current to-do app and begin knocking out the steps.
Here’s an easy checklist you can use:
- Problem or situation arises that requires your action
- Critique ideas on time available, funds available, feasibility (can you execute all these steps without further training), and quality.
- Choose the best solution
- Visualize the end state of your solution
- Work backward from this end state to the beginning of your work effort
- Outline the steps or actions you must take to get from initial steps to final deliverable
- Transfer your steps into your to-do app or a list you will track as you work through your project
I have recently purchased a new planning journal, called the Project EVO daily planner, and must say it is terrific. I realize there are a lot of planners out there. Investigate these and decide for yourself. What I like about the EVO planner is the test you take at the beginning to figure out what your brain type is. My category is Alchemist. My brain type is accurate (scary accurate). The initial evaluation is free. Once you complete it and order your planner, they’ll send you a planner for your brain type. If you’re curious, check them out here.
Another great thing about their service is the accompanying app they offer in the Google Play and iTunes stores. This app is used to scan your daily planner to track your daily and weekly results. It is awesome!
I hope all of you are having a terrific week so far! I appreciate all of you and hope my advice helps. I am constantly seeking new ways to organize myself and squeeze more and more efficiency out of my day. These hacks will help.
Well, that’s it for now.
Until next time…