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December 21, 2009


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Alyson B. Stanfield

Robert: I enjoyed listening to the call and reading this. I've struggled in the past to keep lists. I'm not a paper person. It's too messy for me. All of my tasks and calendars are on the computer.

After listening to your call, I struggled with the Projects List thing. I knew that paper wouldn't work for me, so I thought about what MIGHT work. It needed to give me the flexibility for changing it, searching, etc.

I decided to try out my projects in a FileMaker database. I use FileMaker for many things in my business (contact lists, clients, blog posts), but have never considered it for something like this. Yesterday I started my various projects lists and I think it's going to work out very well. I'm thrilled!

FileMaker works for me because I'm using it anyway. It's almost always open, so I have quick access to it. I think this is key.

Kate Williams

This past hour I've been trying to think through my planning system and here was your article to help me marry two systems I've used:
1. I use project planning sheets that come in a spiral bound format (which I'll organize using your suggested binder).
2. I have a desk calendar by Planner Pads. An open book shows a week across the two pages. There are three rows blocked across the two page week: weekly lists of Activities by Categories (sort of mini-project lists for the week), Daily Things to do and a section for Appointments.
This visual layout works for me to do weekly planning.
3. I put appointments with notes into my Outlook calendar so that I get reminders when I'm working at my desk.

This system works for me when I stay on top of the project planning.

Mary Jane

I'm going to give this system a try and see if it helps with the sense of being constantly overwhelmed with projects that need to be planned, started, continued, finished, etc.

Some days I feel like a hamster with multiple wheels in my cage - and I keep jumping from one wheel to the next. With no sense of accomplishing anything. Actually I do get projects completed, but I never have a sense to forward movement or completion.

Let's see if this gets my musical (I'm a freelance musician and writer) hamster under control.

Ian Brodie

My extra half step: keep that daily list in front of you all the time.

The biggest area where I lose time is when I finish a task I'm working on (especially when I'm at the computer). If I don't have my list on front of me it's all too easy to mindlessly surf or switch to a less important task that happens to pop into my mind.

Keeping the list right next to me not only reminds me of the key tasks, but it reinforces what's important and what's not, and it visibly demonstrates (by the size of the list) how much I still have to do and that I have no time to mess around!


Lyle Parkyn

I use a very similar approach and it's been effective for me.

I define my top goals for the year and identify the things that need to be done for those goals. Maybe even setting quarterly targets.

Before the start of each week I choose what I want to accomplish that week that moves me to those goals. Then I plan out what needs to be done for each day that week.

It takes about 30 minutes or so to plan the upcoming week. Usually, I do this on the weekend.

Sometimes I do this planning at the dining room table while one of my kids does his homework. I'm thinking it's kind of beneficial for them to see dad has homework to do as well - encouraging them to do their own homework. I kind of looked forward to that time

It's a good idea to get the planning done before the week starts. That way I don't get distracted on Monday doing planning.

For years I used pencil and paper forms for this planning. Simple and direct.

Earlier this year I switch to a computer application that's more encompassing and stopped using the paper forms.

Recently, however, I've realized that I'm not being as effective. The program presents too much and consequently I get overwhelmed by tasks.

I've been considering incorporating the paper forms again to plan my week. Robert's posting has just given me impetus to do this.


Lyle T. Lachmuth - The Unsticking Coach

Nice try Robert!

BUT, your system is way TOO STRUCTURED for this Quick Start, (Kolbe)

And, for most of my unstructured, resist structure clients.

My passion has been finding a system that is minimally structured (just enuf structure) that it doesn't hand cuff me ...

Can't describe in few words ...

Watch for the book ...;-)


Aamer Iqbal

So easy,simple and effective! Great job, Robert! Bless you for all the good stuff you send our way, especially without keeping score or attaching strings.

Jeanette Eleff

Excellent article Robert. And a reminder that the pencil, paper, and three-ring binder are perhaps still the best tools around!

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