Plan for a Great Day

Clickety-click clickety-click clickety-click…


Can’t a man just work?

“Yes, dear?”

“The puppy needs to go out!”

Just when we are almost done with diapers. Sigh…

Klever Kahlua

Klever Kahlua

With the passing of our last dog, we now find ourselves with a new puppy and a new set of problems. Welsh Corgis are wonderful dogs, but they are almost too clever for their own good. They work things out quickly and never forget. Grrrrrr…

Well, if you are not as sharp as a Corgi, fear not, the modern world will assist you with wonderful tools. You won’t have to remember everything and you won’t get bogged down by the minutia that will plague your writing career. Heck, we have tools that will do that for us!

Last time, I discussed all the possible tools I have used for managing time and tasks. This month, we will work through the nuts-and-bolts of each of these potential tools. I believe I left off last month by charging you with the task of analyzing each tool and seeing which might fit your needs best. If you have done that, you may need a little patience while I go through each one.

I wish to start with the simplest and work my way up to the more complex and powerful. Obviously, my preference of a spreadsheet makes me inclined to start with that; however, I am going to defer that till a future blog so I can spend an entire blog on each specific tool. Again, you can download the spreadsheet from my website and look it over before I discuss how to manage it. Or, you could just buy the book!

So, with this caveat in mind, I will begin with the good ol’ Dayplanner. Seems not too long ago when this was the gold standard of time management for business types. It was compact, functional, and easy to carry around. Of course, technology has degraded this tool to some degree (CrackBerry), but there are many who still love the idea of writing on real paper. Heck, I saw two at the coffee shop this week alone!

So how does one use this archane device for managing their writing tasks? You must remember back to your weekly appointment to begin. Then, the first step will be to enter this appointment into your Dayplanner calendar for every week you have slots. Sorry, nothing is for free. If your appointment is more than one day per week, then enter for each day you wish to write.

Okay, now is where you have to do some work on your task list generated during your task decomposition a couple months back. Step one, take your list and order it in a logical manner. After all, you wouldn’t start chapter two if chapter one was not complete, or would you? Assuming you apply some level of logic, you should have ordered your tasks based on a realistic sequence.

Next, we must calculate how many of our appointments each task might take. This is only an estimate, so don’t get too hung up on this step. If a task is something like write chapter one, then I would set aside at least two to three weeks worth of appointments to complete this. Yeah, that is all you will do for those appointments. If not, you will never get anything done, trust me!

Excellent, take that wonderful list of tasks you created, pick a starting date based on your ordered list, then append the tasks onto each weekly appointment from that start date until the specified number of appointments has been successfully met. Actually write the task name in the Dayplanner for that day and appointment. This will also provide a wonderful log of your efforts as you go along. Pencil is preferred, but if you don’t expect change, pen works, too.

Finally, add each additional task into your Dayplanner during your appointment until all tasks have been entered. If you work on your computer a lot, place the Dayplanner next to your keyboard and have it open to the current week. When you are starting your weekly appointment, look at the entry in your Dayplanner to see what you should be working on during that appointment. Don’t cheat, work on what the Dayplanner tells you! Voila, you are managing your time and your tasks.

If this seems a little time intensive, then you have discovered why this tool has degraded over the years. There is a good reason I go with a spreadsheet for task management, but this works, too. I find the most difficult thing about a Dayplanner is I lose that uber view of all my tasks. Also, I lose the flexibility of changing order and start dates, although if you use pencil, you can still have some flexibility.

The good ol’ Dayplanner is still a wonderful tool for managing your time. If you already use one for appointments in your day job, then adding your writing into it may be just the trick. If not, you may consider an electronic tool for the future. Maybe a combination of the two is also appropriate. If you are interested in the Dayplanner, I suggest FranklinCovey for your initial investment. They are one of the best and have so many solutions to meet your needs. I suggest the weekly planner inserts as opposed to the daily planners, but that is if all you are doing is managing your writing. If you use it for your job, the daily planners would be best.

I have given you a basic process for managing your appointment to write and the tasks you will perform during that appointment. The Dayplanner is a wonderful tool, but is overshadowed by so many electronic solutions available. However, if you prefer pencil and paper for your management needs, the Dayplanner can’t be beat. Only you can decide what will work best for you, but decide you must, else your writing day will never get planned or executed! Remember keep that appointment religiously.

Now, where did I put that leash?