I have always struggled with finding the perfect planning system for years. Do I go digital or do I continue with analog? How about a bit of both? If I do both, would I be able to handle it? There had been tons and tons of questions in my mind. As a natural overthinker, it is somewhat of a norm. However, after years and years of trying out several planning systems, I am figured out a system to work for myself. It is simple easy to follow and time-effective, just the way I like things to be. I won’t go on a limb and say I am going to use it for the rest of my life. Obviously, I plan to incorporate and tweak certain elements if need be. However, for now, this is going to do and I am quite satisfied with it.
So, here are the 6 main elements in my planning system:
- Note Taking
- Time Blocking
Now, that I have classified them into 6 parts, there are three resources that I use to manage these – the app Notion, a Bullet Journal and Google Calendar.
Here is an explanation about how I use them together.
Notion: Note Taking & Roadmaps
Notion is an all-encompassing tool. The primary mission of Notion is to be customisable in such a way that you can use it in any form you want. Kanban, table, list – Notion has it all. Of course, with heaps of options, you are sure to get overwhelmed. When I was setting up my Notion dashboard I felt it too. It eases up with time.
I really gave Notion a shot as a task management tool. However, for me, it did not work. Notion stood out as a note-taking tool for me. And since, I take a lot of notes, as a student, blogger and working professional, Notion is an immense help to me.
Apart from notes, the next important feature is the Kanban feature. If you are looking for an exclusive app with more optimization, then Trello is the best. However, the Kanban feature helps me to map out my goals. And that’s all I use it for. So, for now, Notion is sufficient for me. I should also mention that my yearly goals are also listed in Notion, along with other systems like my book tracker, personal journal, wish list &c.
Bullet Journal: Tasks & Planning
The concept of Bullet Journal (or BuJo, in short) does not need an introduction. Since I have a penchant for simplicity and minimalism, I follow the original BuJo format. It is fast and easy to use, sans all the complications. I use BuJo for noting down daily tasks and planning my monthly goals. My monthly goals go on my “monthly log” and my everyday tasks are noted down on my “daily log.” It is a very efficient system and easy to follow. You can get a great overview here.
The main reason I have included an analog system during planning is to limit the amount of time I use my digital devices. This limits distractions. Initially, I never gave it much thought. However, after hearing Cal Newport’s podcast, where he stated how digital devices promote more resistance than a simple analog system of paper and pen, I decided to embrace the old school system of planning and productivity. A simple pen and paper can really go a long way in making a difference.
Google Calendar: Time Blocking & Reminders
Last but not the least, Google Calendar is one of the most-used apps for me. I use it to set reminders like paying bills, appointments/events and other deadlines I need to deal like. This frees up my brain and helps me focus on tasks without worrying that I might be forgetting something.
Another feature I like is time blocking. Time blocking (or boxing) is the allocation of a certain amount of time for a particular purpose. It makes you more productive. For instance, I am writing this post on a Sunday afternoon. I have time blocked 4 hours in my calendar to write down blog posts. That way, I am only going to write posts during these 4 hours.
How is Google Calendar helpful in this case? Well, it provides me with a visual representation. I have all my “events” listed on my calendar – from classes, work, seminars, to even say, a pre-scheduled movie time with a friend. Every time I plan to work on something, I look at my calendar and see which slots are free. For instance, I saw that today, I had a free slot from 2 pm to 7 pm. Since I had to write posts for my blog for this upcoming week, I scheduled 2 pm to 6 pm to be my “writing time.” Had I not seen my events spread out in front of me in a colour-coded format, I might have made some mistake.
I plan to delve more into it in some other post. This system is relatively new and I think that I am finally starting to find a solid planning system. However, I am always looking for ways to optimise my system. My goal in life is to be as efficient as possible. However, this system might not work for you. That is okay. The goal is to look into systems and optimise it according to your comfort.
So, what is your planning system?