One of the first things I did during this new season in my life was to ditch my daily planner. It might have been a mistake.
WHO NEEDS IT?
One of the first things I did during this new season in my life was to ditch my daily planner.
I have been using a paper planner to help keep track of projects, tasks, and timelines for years. On multiple occasions, I have tried to go digital. Something about putting pen to paper makes the planning process more real for me.
Without my church responsibilities and all that goes along with being a pastor, I figured there was no need for a planner.
Google Calendar and a simple program to keep track of Tasks should be enough to manage the little I had to accomplish.
I was “retired.” Did it really matter if I got the project done on a particular day? [Yes, I have eventually settled on the word “retired.”]
TURNS OUT I MIGHT
A few weeks into this planner-free season of life, my cell phone rang. I immediately recognized the number as my oncologist. They never call unless it is something significant. I took a deep breath and braced myself for a difficult conversation.
Cheryl, the office manager, greeted me, “Hello Dan, are you okay?” Yes, I am fine, how are you?
“I am great; just wondering if you are planning to come to the office and get your bloodwork done today?”
It turns out I had an early morning appointment. The office had been eagerly watching for me. Finally, after lunch, they gave up and figured it would be best to check in and make sure I was doing okay.
A little stammering and apologizing on my part and I headed off to the oncologist for my lab work.
I wish I could say that was the only time something like that happened. It was not.
ADRIFT WITHOUT A PLAN
Beyond missing a few appointments, I found myself wasting significant amounts of time. Lacking a checklist to work from, I would aimlessly go from one thing to the next. There was no plan to move through the day, and it showed.
As each day winds down, I try to practice some form of Ignatian Examen. In a very simplistic way, it involves reviewing the day and asking where you experienced the presence of God.
During my times of Examen, I saw that I was not stewarding my days well. A lack of planning left me wandering through the day. While it was true that I had less responsibility, it seemed equally valid that without some form of planner I would wander aimlessly through my days.
POST-IT NOTES TO EXCEL
A few days later, I revived my old planner system. It was fascinating how my days were more productive, enjoyable, even restful as I worked on an intentional plan.
I recognize that we are all different. Some plan on post-it notes and restaurant napkins, while others use excel, Franklin Covey, and Full Focus Planners to keep focused.
How we do it does not matter. What matters is you find a system that works for you.
As seasons change, it is important to understand we still need some planning to make the most of our days.
Once you find something that works for you, stick with it. Then, find ways to improve and enhance your planning.
If there is someone in your orbit who seems always to get lots accomplished and always seems to be “on top of things,” ask them to share how they plan and manage their lives.
PLAN FOR A COMPLETE LIFE
One of the most helpful things I ever did when planning was to include all aspects of my life in one plan.
Before that point, I kept a separate set of goals for each area of my life; work, family, spiritual, hobbies, and so on.
One year I brought all those separate sets of goals into one place. I broke them down into three categories, Being, Relating, and Doing.
Being included goals focused on physical, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual well-being.
Relating involved Nancy, Joseph, Rayann, the rest of my family, and how I wanted to engage with people in general.
Doing focused heavily on my role as pastor but also included hobbies.
Having all my goals in one place allowed me to see the bigger picture of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to accomplish. In addition, it helped me order my days in much more productive ways.
I was able to find a greater balance between my being, relating, and doing. When one side (normally my doing) started to take over my life, it was easier for me to see and make adjustments.
This was extremely helpful for me. The key is to find something that works for you.
In an act of full disclosure – the planner I have been using for the past few years has been Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner. Using this planner well takes effort. A few minutes at the start of each quarter, month, and week will be very beneficial.
I have also found Michael Hyatt’s thoughts on goal setting extremely helpful.
As 2021 comes to a close and we look toward a new year, might this be a time to rethink goal setting and personal planning? Remember, the key is to find something that works for you and then to stick with it.