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Discussion Forum > New Week Planning Method - Totals, not Times

Accepting ideas for a better name.

Traditional Method (that doesn't work for me):

Chart, one page per week. One column per day. One row per hour. Or many rows per hour. Write in what you want to do when, then erase and rewrite when it changes. Or use removable stickers. Slightly easier with digital.

That doesn't work for me because I don't follow time-based plans well. I rarely feel like doing things the time I'd planned. Then I either keep trying to do it and stalling (doing nothing useful), force myself to do it (slowly, since I can't focus), or reschedule (great way to procrastinate).

New Method:

A grid. List appointments and tasks down the left. Extra columns for date and time of appointment. Optional columns for urgency, deadline, total time needed this week, other notes. I usually list appointments in first, but it's not required. I don't usually use formal columns for everything, just squeeze it into the task column.

One column per day.

In each cell, record the number of hours you plan to work on the task. (Hint: Write tiny, for later tweaks.) Include travel time. Add across the row to see if you have enough for the task. Add down the column to see if you planned more hours than you have.

(Link uses a code rather than times. Vertical = 1 hour, / = 15 minutes, - = 5 minutes. Checkmark means done as planned. Happy face is self-explanatory.)

If you plan to do a bit each day on a project, it's all the same row. Easy to find total planned time.

Downside: It doesn't show if you have long or short time blocks. Will you have time that morning to prepare for the afternoon meeting?


More than one column per day. Maybe morning/afternoon/evening. Shows if there's time in the morning to prepare for the afternoon meeting.

Columns for actual time spent per task, by day or by week. Record focus level, or why time spent is more or less than planned.

Code in the cell for appointment vs task. I put a box around the numbers if it's an appointment, and circle the number if I didn't finish the task.

Use different colour each day. Use black when planning the week, then blue to show what changes you made on Monday, etc. If you frequently defer things to Friday, Friday's column becomes a rainbow.

Row at the top for theme of the day. Some days are filled with errands or planned rest days (after planned late meeting), or have more housework because husband has big project and can't do his share.

Row for notes after end of day. Tiny notes, since narrow columns.

Projects can be left as a single line or broken into multiple lines. If multiple lines, you can still put the total planned for the day on the main project line, or break it down, an hour on Monday for research, an hour on Tuesday for the rough draft.

Can be extended, especially if done on a spreadsheet. Just add more columns.

Footnotes, just add a code. Plenty of room on the page.

Add rows for things done that weren't planned, with a code. Why didn't I plan it? Why did I do that instead of what I planned? Becomes a time use diary.

The grid also becomes this week's catch-all list. It's in front of me, and I don't have to assign a time if I don't want to.

I tried using the traditional form for totals rather than firm start times. Fill in the hours, but look at the totals rather than exact time planned. The problem is, the task I'm moving is never the size of the box I want to put it in.
September 13, 2017 at 17:21 | Registered CommenterCricket
Other variation: Can be used to add planning to other systems. The list created by the system is on the left. Add columns to the right for planning. Would probably work well for RAF, DWM, Jane West?? and One Minute Manager, where all active tasks are close together and old pages are torn out. Probably wouldn't work well for AF1.

Maybe add columns for future weeks / months. This will also let you see if the column for the week after vacation is getting full.
September 13, 2017 at 17:28 | Registered CommenterCricket
Another tweak: Add columns for next week or weeks, next month or months, next season or seasons. I haven't tried that one yet. In the past, I would defer things that I should have deleted. Just because next month looks empty doesn't mean I can do 10 projects in it.
September 13, 2017 at 21:08 | Registered CommenterCricket