First things first.
You enjoy what you do…that’s apparent. That’s why you’re here. It’s not just your work you enjoy, it’s life in general. As a matter of fact, you’d love to be able to enjoy all of it more often – completely, even. That’s always the challenge. Without a doubt, you can’t have it that way unless you really want it so. In order to do that, you’ve got to be not only awesome at what you do, but awesomely productive at it.So you’re set on making that happen. Once you’ve decided that, it leads to the first important question:
“Where do I begin?”
The answer to that one is easy. You start with a plan.
If you fail to plan, then…
Having a plan in place is paramount when it comes to balancing the act we call “life.” Our brains just aren’t built to do things effectively and efficiently without a plan in place. However, deciding to plan is just the first step…it leads to even more questions.
- What are the most important things to plan for?
- What order should I prioritize them in?
- Should I plan everything?
- How should I organize my planning?
- No, seriously, should I plan everything?
I’m not going to get into all of those…we’ll explore a lot of that stuff over the course of the next few months. What I’m going to do is hopefully set you on the path to becoming more productive by answering the question you need to answer yourself first:
“How should I record my planning?”
Not such a simple answer to this question, I’m afraid. It’s pretty subjective, really. What it boils down to is how your brain works. Whatever way works for one person will not work for another. Bottom line is that you have to choose something. I’ve touched on this before. While the options are vast, the ways in which you get things down (in order to get things done) fall into three areas:
- Paper planning
- Software planning
- Web planning (the newest of the bunch)
There are pros and cons to each. Ultimately, it’ll boil down to what you deal with best that will measure your success.
You don’t need anything fancy (although it does help some to have that structure in place beforehand), you just need something consistent. There’s something holistic about writing things down on paper to keep on track. I don’t know if it’s some sort of link from the paper to your brain or if you pay attention more when you’re writing as opposed to typing. It works for a lot of people, though.
- Very portable
- Tends to “stick” better
- Tried and true method
- Not terribly “green”
- More difficult to file
- Can cause “electronic redundancy”
Want to be part of the 20th century? This is the method for you (I say 20th century because there’s another method that’s a tad newer…). Productivity software is a huge category; there are a lot of choices out there whether you are a Windows, Mac or Linux user. Many even have a mobile version of their product so that you can take your plans wherever you go. These programs can store a ton of info and in several different categories without filling your file cabinet. If you’ve got a lot going on, this may be the way to go.
- Very robust
- Plenty of choices (so many!)
- Support available
- Can be very complex and rigid
- Plenty of choices (too many!)
- Not necessarily long-lasting
The newest method of planning is done over “the cloud” – or so those who design these new methods would have you do. The great thing about these is that you have the ability to not bog down your own computer with tasks and to-do lists and can be at computer anywhere and have access to what you need to do. These systems also have the ability to “sync” with your mobile device as well. But what if “the cloud” breaks? Well, you can download your items as well, but then where do you put them? The latest methods of allowing you to be more productive also raises just as many questions as it professes to provide answers.
- Accessible at any computer
- (Again) Lots of choices
- Tends to be more adaptable than proprietary software solutions
- Monthly usage fees (where applicable) can add up
- (Again) Lots of choices
- Your data resides on the Internet
The Dilemma Is Yours…
But it doesn’t have to be. It’s going to be a challenge deciding which way to go when it comes to your all-around planning practices. I’ll give you some insight on my own methods…which are two-fold.
I’ve been using paper for pretty much all of my life. I keep going back to it, despite having a ton of productivity tools at my disposal. However, I can feel a shift coming on as my projects become grander and my freelancing becomes more diversified. Paper planning is good to keep tabs on thins, but software is far better at handling project planning. So, I’m likely headed back to electronic productivity methods over the course of the summer…but it will be a gradual shift.
There are two things I’ve learned during my study of productivity over the years. One is that if you’re going to make a change in how you do things, make sure you do it right. That, of course, takes planning. The second thing is to make a change and commit to it.
So whether you decide to commit your plans to paper, software or the web, do one thing for certain…commit all the way.
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