The Optimal-Flow Task Planner
You are likely to achieve more if you plan your day keeping three rules in mind:
- Determine tasks for today based on your weekly goals.
- Batch similar tasks together.
- Execute batched tasks in a sequence.
How to use Optimal-Flow Task Planner:
- Use two screens - a mobile and a computer.
- On one screen, bring up your weekly goals.
- On second screen, bring up this board.
- As you see your weekly goals, start typing various tasks in different columns as per the nature of the tasks.
- Get executing tasks starting with column 1 (due today). Then execute tasks in the next column on right. And so on.
- Of course, use your judgement to move backwards and forwards through the columns. Example: You might want to delegate tasks first (column 3) before you step out to visit the doctor (colum 2).
- Also at times you will execute a deep work task (column 6) and then delegate it (column 5) the same day or next day. Accordingly, your flow of moving from one column to anotmight change.
- The tasks that remain incomplete, can remain here. You might also want to shift tasks from one column to another. For example, you have made a simple enquiry somewhere, but you are awaiting response. In that case you can move the task from "Do-Shallow" to "Follow Up" column
- Next day or end of the day, plot tasks for tomorrow. Include the tasks that you have captured during the day.
Make two copies of this board. One which you would actually use (fill in your tasks), and the original one for quick reference should you need to refer the original concept again.
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- In this column, capture tasks or requests made to you.
- Do this at the end of the day or beginning of the day.
- Quickly check your inboxes: Emails, WhatsApp messages, LinkedIn messages, etc.
- Don't get caught up in responding. Only capture.
- Example: On your WhatsApp, you receive a request to take a yoga session at your social club. | A recruiter has reached out to you with an open position in your LinkedIn. | Your boss has emailed you to reach office early and help him prepare a report
- This actually goes against the popular advice of "don't check your emails first thing in the morning." Read more ...
But I think we should take that advice with a pinch of a salt.
For example, in a professional work environment, reaching office late, and then saying you were not aware despite receiving an email on that, will not go well.
Best is to Read > Capture, Don't Reply...Yet > Organize quickly > and then Get Executing.
🗓️ Tasks Due Today
- In this column, bring appointments from your calendar.
- Also add tasks that are due today (meaning tasks that someone else is waiting on you to complete)
- last date to renew insurance policy.
- blood work to be done before next scheduled visit to the doctor.
- TIP: don't add due dates to tasks on your own. Here, only consider tasks which have due dates driven by other people, events.
- Also, you might have use the "Days" view to pre-schedule some tasks. Also bring those here as the day arrives.
- Some tasks from 'Incoming Tasks' which absolutely due today, will come here.
🗓️ Calls and Meeting Scheduled Today
- Add meetings that are due today.
- The idea is to have everything at one place so that you don't switch between Timestripe and the calendar.
- If you are used to referring to your calendar and your meetings change too often, then don't add here. Use the calendar.
- On the other hand, if your job involves few and fixed meetings, you can add those here.
- In this column, add tasks for which you need to step out of the office, home to complete a task.
- Example: pick up a laptop from the service center.
- If you are outside, you might as well complete similar tasks together before you settle back in your office or home for work.
Delegate and Follow Up
- Here add task that you want to delegate to others. Delegating with clear instructions, frees you up to focus on tasks only YOU must do.
- Your team waiting for next action on a project. You might want to have quick calls every day or shoot an email.
- Sometime, delegation and follow up on tasks delegated earlier go together.
- Add tasks that you had delegated to others and you now want to follow up to know the status of the delegated tasks.
Do - Deep
- Add tasks that require some deep work.
- It could be writing or data analysis.
- If you are a sales person, making those sales calls fall under this.
- After deciding, thinking through, you might want to delegate a task or do it yourself. Accordingly add a next action in the Delegate Column or Do Columns. And execute from there.
- Add items where you need to make a decision. It is better to take decisions early in the day before you get drowned in shallow or deep work on projects.
- Examples: deciding dates of holidays, whether to enroll for an expensive online course, decision on balcony design and then delegating it further.
Do - Medium
- In this column, add tasks that don't need a deep focus, but would take a lot of effort.
- Example, updating your CRM. You don't need deep thinking, but it definitely requires quite a lot of effort.
Do - Shallow
- In this column, add tasks that are clearly shallow tasks, the ones that require very little attention, or are monotonous.
- That doesn't mean that these tasks are non-essential to life.
- Here, add all the stuff that you want to read today.
- Examples: two chapters from two different book, articles that you have stored to read later in your Instapaper, newsletters that you have subscribed to.