It is the already the first week of December and 2013 is not far away. Every year, most of you resolve to be more organized, plan more and manage your “time” better. You also stock up on diaries, planners, smart phones and applications to help you achieve your goal. This year, I want to offer some help – as most of you who have coached with me know, I consider planning a key leadership skill and habit. So, I want to share some ideas on how you can use your favorite gift diary or planner and combine it with some digital productivity tools to keep your resolution easily in 2013.
Before we talk about the “How”, let us quickly recap the “What”. What is your plan? I recommend that you take time and make an Annual Plan in the following categories:
- Work & Career
- Relating – Friends, Family, Community
- Personal – Hobbies, Fitness, Social Interests
Be sure that you match up your annual KRAs at work with what you have written down under Work & Career. You might have additional plans for your career as long as you include what your company considers your job responsibility. Similarly, I recommend that you make your Relating plans along with your loved ones so that it is inclusive and actually works. Once you have an Annual Plan, you can break it down so that your daily plan includes action items that support it. Else, your day can get consumed in activities that do not contribute towards the big picture – namely, your Annual Plan!
Once you have a plan, here is what you typically create and track on a daily basis:
- To-do List
- Calendar of events, meetings, appointments
- Expense Record
- Personal Logs like Workout Log, Daily Food Diary, Period Diary, Car or Home Maintenance Logs, etc
I want to share what I plan to use and suggest some alternatives. In 2013, I plan to go completely digital with my planning – well, almost! I am still going to use a paper one-page-per-day diary to make notes during meetings or in device-free zones. Here are the applications and software I will use for planning:
- My Annual Plan will be on MS Excel
- Email on MS Outlook for Mac and synchronized with Mail on iPhone
- Calendar will be on MS Outlook for Mac and synchronized with Calendar on iPhone
- To-do List on Notes in MS Outlook for Mac. This is because it syncs with Notes on my iPhone. I would prefer to use Todoist, a wonderful application to enter and track To-Do Lists but they are still to develop a plug-in for MS Outlook for Mac. I am waiting for that plugin and then Notes will go!
- Expense tracking on Spending. It is an iPhone application that I love because I can see my monthly spend as a pie chart. There are just tons of applications in this category so you are spoilt for choice. Most of the apps allow you to export the data onto your laptop in a format that is useful and widely compatible
- Workout Log on Workout Diary. This application does not have many options and works for me. I tried three other applications but they had too many options and required me to input a lot of data.
- Period log on Period Diary. This is a fantastic application and just beautiful to look at too! Pink with flowers – need I say more! This is a must for every women leader.
Depending on whether you use a Mac or a PC, iPhone or Blackberry or an Android device, the options available in terms of applications are limitless. It is possible to get overwhelmed and then lose focus on your goal – to plan successfully in 2013. So, some final suggestions to make this experience quick and effective for you:
- Finalize what you will use to plan i.e. smart phone, paper diary, laptop, etc
- Once you know the mix of paper/digital products and their makes, allocate a fixed amount of time to choose the applications you will use for Email, To-do List, etc
- Choose more than one application if you are not sure and play with them for a day or two to see what actually works for you. Sometimes a pretty looking application is not useful and vice versa!
- Set yourself a deadline BEFORE the 31st to freeze products and applications for 2013
- In most cases, you DO NOT need to buy the pro version of applications – the base versions are adequate. Beware of over-zealous marketing!
In case you get stuck or need a helpful nudge, just contact me for some tips via email or a consultation. Enjoy the year-end bustle and the gorgeous December weather. Stay healthy and safe till we talk again….