Sunday, January 22, 2012

Using a Planner Part 1

Almost didn't get to make my scheduled entry. My eight-year old daughter had been asking to use the computer for some time but I kept putting her off. She quietly sat beside me, waiting patiently, watching what I was doing. Then she put her head on my shoulder and that's when I caved in. I let her play her Tetris for an hour or so.

What I wanted to share this week was on using a planner. At the office, I use Microsoft Outlook's Task List and Calendar. When I first used the Task List, it was just a list of jobs. It quickly became such a long list that I despaired of ever finishing anything. Add a boss who insisted on my doing multiple things at the same time and you'd have a formula for stress. I either needed a lesson in time management or organizing my work.

I thought of using the internet to find a planner that I could load into my cellphone and use to organize things. Thus far, I have been unsuccessful. In my search, however, I found several articles on time management. One in particular gave me such a clear idea of what to do that I decided to use it. The webpage is and after about a week, I finally got the hang of it.

The essence of using a planner is to put a buffer on your jobs. They mentioned a book, "Do It Tomorrow" by Mark Forster. Unfortunately, I'm a little cash-strapped so I am unable to buy the book for now. The article did, however, describe the essentials.

Before I get to the essence, I think I'll describe how I did things before.

I mentioned that I had a list of jobs in Outlook's Task List. When someone asked me to do something or I thought of something that needed to be done, I put it on the list. Unfortunately, that's all I did. I just put it on the list.

Everyday, I'd choose an item from the list and work on it. If I finished it, I marked the task as complete and it would disappear from the active list. If I didn't, the task would stay on the list, unchanged. I didn't use reminders, I didn't write anything about status or even when I expected or intended to finish the job. It was just a list.

A lot of times, I didn't even put a job on the list. When I received a job to do and it was urgent, I did it right away without putting it on the list. If I finished it, I'd have no record of it. If I didn't finish it and still didn't put it on the list, it's almost a sure thing that I'd forget it.

Another problem was choosing which job to do first. I'd pick one at random or if I thought it was easy or can be finished quickly. If someone follow up on a job, I'd drop what I was doing and pick up his request. No attempt at negotiation or anything. It was all haphazard and confusing. It was also driving me crazy.

So here came the article and I decided to try it out.

Next week, I'll tell you how it it went. Furthermore, by next week, I'd have learned a few more things and I can add those too.

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