Love this one!!!
I am an academic who just got tenure and lead several large grants. I use a 17-Month Large Planner from Rifle Paper company, with 2-page weekly spreads, with two columns of checkboxes for weekdays and one column for each weekend day. For years, I used a New Yorker desk diary, which has the added benefit of cartoons, but it is only 12 months long.
Just as Oliver Burkeman discussed in his interview with you, I can’t time block plan like Cal Newport and others recommend. Instead, similar to Oliver, I keep a list of daily tasks, separately for each day, written in the planner. Sometimes I write the most important tasks at the top of the day’s left column, as a suggestion to do those tasks in the morning, with the less important tasks listed to the side, in the day’s right column. If I’m waiting to hear back about something I’d like to work on that day, I’ll list it in the right column, too. If I finish the day’s tasks, I’ll pull from lists I’ve made for future days, weeks, or months, also written in the planner. If I don’t finish the day’s tasks, I redistribute them to wherever they could go in the future.
My meetings are typically online, so their time is noted in my paper calendar in the left column, and the actual links are in a Google Calendar. For meeting agenda items I think of ahead of time, I write them on the paper calendar by the time of the meeting, so that when that meeting occurs, I have a handy list of topics to discuss. At the end of the day, I set my phone to chime ten minutes before each meeting the following day, so that I can become engrossed in the next day’s tasks and not worry about missing a meeting.
To figure out my monthly and weekly goals, which I write at the top of the planner’s 2-page weekly spreads or on the blank pages that announce each month, I work backwards from my big goals every few months. When I’m away from my paper planner, I text myself ideas to keep track of, which also sends me an email. I keep some of my more complicated lists in Workflowy, such as possible future research topics or shopping lists. I try to schedule lightly to be available for surprises, work ahead of schedule so I can work on projects I’m in the mood for, and put fun, non-work activities to look forward to on my planner, too!
I use pens from JetPens, from ‘Fine Tip Gel Pen’ samplers I ordered. Highly recommended!Laura, academic + BLP listener
1- How to prevent handwritten notes from becoming a disorganized mess
- Rocketbook – hybrid smart notebook that wipes off + can be filled electronically (rocketbook)
- Dividers + binders!! Or even (gasp) file folders. I love these refillable notebook with tabs.
- Go entirely digital or consider a paper-like tablet such as ReMarkable
2- How to keep momentum going with a (very) irregular parenting schedule (8 nights on / 6 nights off)?
- Lots of planning – which I’m sure you are already doing, but also planning in personal FUN for your quieter 6 days
- Seeking others in similar boats
- Allowing yourself 2 different sets of routines – routines do not need to be fixed or the same every day!
3- Erasable pen suggestions (and call for listener help!) aside from the usual Frixion which many find not-dark-enough – readers, do you have any!!?!
4- GTD and tracking recurring “never-ending” tasks (like updating the same spreadsheet every week)
- Find ways to remember to update / give yourself credit for updating something like this even if task is never truly ‘complete’
Ways to Leave Questions & Comments:
Email me – here!
Send me a (virtual/Google voice) text – (305) 697-7189
Finally, will be opening cohort 2 of Best Laid Plans Academy in Feb so please join the waitlist if interested; I will offer it to that group first.
Sponsors for this week:
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Plan to Eat: Meal planning with your own favorite recipes. Best Laid Plans listeners can get a 25% discount on a yearly subscription by signing up for a free trial at plantoeat.com/plans