Towards the end of my time in the Navy, I designed another planning/tracking system using standard 8.5" x 11" sheets, hole-punched to fit in a three ring binder. One sheet was a monthly calendar I could fill in from scratch. Then there were two planning pages per week. On these sheets I could arrange 2" x 2" Post-It notes for each day of the week and with varying degrees of priority; i.e. in columns "A", "B", or "C". These could be further prioritized depending on how the Post-It notes were stacked on top of each other in each square.
As efficient as this notebook-sized system seemed to be, I never really utilized it well for any extended period of time. I think no matter what system people use (or try to use), they have to be motivated to keep up with it. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I think my focus and productivity have gotten at least somewhat better after reading Tim Urban's articles on procrastination; Why Procrastinators Procrastinate, The Procrastination Matrix, and How to Beat Procrastination, as well as Your Life In Weeks. I have been keeping up with my "Life Calendar" for almost four years now. It's definitely helping me stay focused on my Big Research Project; i.e. "text coding" the New Testament. I get to color the week's block "blue" when I accomplish my (now) "one chapter per week" goal.
However, there are many, many other things I am challenging myself to do each week now as well. So how do I keep track of the details of all of these things on a weekly basis?
Enter my newest tool: A 3' x 4' White Board with a 2" x 2" "ghost grid." I've been using it for about three weeks now, not only scheduling specific tasks, but tracking my time that is not already scheduled. It's been interesting to see how much time can get "sucked away" when I'm kind of looking at my board, hour-by-hour. Once I've finished a day, I can then make even better notes in my calendar/datebook (something I've been doing consistently now since the end of 2012).
The days with the most notes are the ones that have already passed. I'll remove the notes when I've documented everything in my datebook. The more empty days are ahead of me, but they'll fill in pretty quickly, even though I am off work right now due to a foot injury. With the board turned on its end like this, I have room for two weeks across the top and hours from 6 am to 12 pm down the side. That leaves a little more room for miscellaneous stickers around the edges, projects or tasks that get repeated, or longer-term projects that I haven't scheduled yet. I also put lists of things I need to buy for groceries or other projects. It's turning out to be a pretty flexible system, and I like the kind of "life-sized" quality about it. It's enough to get good detail over a good length of time. And, of course, for even longer-term planning, I can go back to my "Six Year" calendar format.
So this is where things stand to date with my personal attempts to keep track of my time and make the most of it. There are lots of projects that I'm working on for work and for my local community, as well as personal projects. I'm trying to keep all of it in balance!
I do feel I'm getting more accomplished, and there's still enough flexibility in the system to adjust as needed.
As I said earlier, every personal planning/organizational system requires the motivation to use it. I think that's where Tim Urban's articles can have some impact. Perseverance helps, too. I've been wrestling with this bear for a good part of my life now, and I'm already 54 years old as of the writing of this post. But, I keep trying, and I do feel I'm making progress!
Hope there is something here to keep you motivated as well!