A very long time ago, I took a one day class with the Franklin Planner folks.  The seminar pushed you to ask yourself the question:  Are you doing the right things for you?  That class totally changed and improved my life.  Yeah, I know how dumb that sounds.

What it really did was reduce my stress level.  I know I’ve got a busy life, and there are a whole lot of things I’d like to accomplish.  The class gave me some skills on how to prioritize those efforts.  Additionally if gave me a convenient tool to keep track of what I’ve done. I can capture my thoughts now, and find them again later.

I built up a list of governing values.. those things that control HOW I want to live my life.  What values I hold dear.  This list took me two months to put together on paper.  Yeah, I know your values are built into who you are, but putting them in black and white on paper is somehow, pleasing.  What’s really awesome about this list is it is prioritized.  When there is a conflict of do I do this or that, the value priority will ease the decision process.

Two tenants of the planning system that stood out for me were:
–You get an intense feeling of satisfaction in completing tasks that lead towards long term goal accomplishment.
–You put something on your task list EVERY DAY, that leads towards your long term goals.

I don’t want to overdo stuff many others have done.  The Franklin Planner class I took was based on the book, The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management: Proven Strategies for Increased Productivity and Inner Peace, by Hyrum W. Smith.  An extract summary is located here.   The summary is fine for refreshing me on what I’ve already learned, it probably doesn’t work as a stand alone (hint: buy the book!)

Additionally I still use daily planner pages.  I’ve picked up an XL template online (Vertex42), then modified it for my own purpose with the addition of a second page.  I print it out (full duplex – double sided printing) generally a week or two ahead.  I use it daily to keep track of what I’ve been working on, tasks, travel / business records and web links of interest.  Its pretty helpful.  I particularly like the dotted back page.  Good for either writing out sentences or drawing idea sketches.  I’m going to provide my mods to the XL sheet here on my web site.   I also use the ARC disc binder system from Staples.  Makes things very easy to use.

I will say, I’ve often toyed with the idea of writing an app that ties your daily things to do list to a google task list (free online storage).  Something that has the same functionality as software Franklin-Covey used to sell years ago.  I really liked drag and drop daily task re-priority as required.  What I really want is a way to look at history and see when tasks were started and then completed.  Not quite sure of the best way to do that yet, using a public and free storage in a pre-formatted task list. We could use google drive / dropbox and then create a small SQLite database, but where is the fun in that? I’ll have to add that to my list of tasks to do in my spare time.

Oh, and it does look like the Franklin Planner thing has transitioned into a Seven Habits of Highly Effective People seminar.  Check it out yourself.