Five Systems to Streamline Your Productivity

Including Weekly Review

a shiney new system or process?

Building a planner template that went from Usable to Incredible.

After creating, revising and using the Proflex Planner I crafted through Evernote for myself, I started sharing with friends and colleagues. The planner is so much more then just a digital place to keep track of appointments, capturing your to-do list, or managing projects, because there are myriads of apps to use, for checking a box on a to-do list. No: Some people need a system, and I was one of those people.

But when I asked myself the question, why did I keep switching apps to accomplish what I need, there was a justification trap that I allowed myself believe; which was that I could juggle the individual apps because of their features that I liked and thought I needed. So now I had given myself permission to juggle apps so I could handle juggling life.

Bringing it together with different methods such as David Allen's GTD method the time blocking Pomodoro Technique the Eisenhower Matrix, and Michael Hyatt's After Action Review (AAR) we can take the best from several systems to craft a custom fit, for our own workflow.

WEEKLY REVIEW AND BIG WINS; I want to say right here how much things have changed when I adopted the Weekly Review and AAR (after action review). My weekly review is time blocked in my own planner. Usually Saturday morning for a full review, with a quick review of the to-do type activities the previous Thursday mid-day. This is a great time to see what I missed.

During my Weekly Review, I search #BIGWIN and see what I listed as a big win for the week. The unchecked items get revaluated for value, purpose, and priority. I ask myself (on the incomplete items) Did I not get granular enough with the next action? Is this why it was not completed?

Next I will ask these questions in past tense.

I will look at the new projects that were started, read over next actions and make sure there scheduled.

I will be aware while reviewing if any of my systems or processes need updating.

Even with completed tasks, and, if they involve anyone, I will make sure there no open loops with them. Looking at it from there point of view.

During each week I practice saying No to many distractions, but yes to the individual. Sometimes this means getting back in touch with them, and offering them an alternate solution, or sending them to someone that might fit the situation better.

Lastly, I review monthly and quarterly targets, also to include my roles.

The AAR for me is used to evaluate my system, process, and actions of a particular activity. I do this on an individual level or with a team.

During the AAR we ask four simple questions;

  1. Was what happened, actually expected to happen?

  2. What was challenging and can be improved on?

  3. What do I, or we need to do more of?

  4. What do I, or we need to do less of, or remove from the activity?

On a side note, the AAR and Weekly Review also allow me to identify the big wins and see if they correlate with my larger targets and goals.

The first major step was to group tasks and projects into the four quadrant "Eisenhower Matrix" where focusing on quadrant two bringing the deepest and meaningful events, all while handling the quadrant one necessities, the quadrant three activities that need to be done by someone, and quadrant four that invade and attempt to control our time. These are now built into the planner. The first step in the GTD methodology is to write it down, and is where most people miss it. Remember; our minds aren't made for remembering tasks and to-do's.

Our minds solve problems and create things far better then remembering, so writing it down is super important. Whether we are planning or have a random thought, or idea, we can capture that in the exact, and right place that moment, no matter which quadrant it falls under. If it does not fit one of those quadrants, then it should go into a "someday one-day" list or an ideas list. You will revisit these during your weekly review. Sound complicated, it's really not.

My workflow within Evernote is akin to a digital ecosystem, capturing what's important to me by staging, planning, strategizing and using templates with note-linking for the different areas of life.

What's more important to you?

  • Your to-do lists

  • Your Appointments

  • Your Project planning

  • Your Goals for the year

  • Your Work-out schedule

  • Tracking your sleep or water intake

  • Blocking time to do what matters most for you

  • Having quick links to all other areas of your daily life

  • or just getting your one thing done today that will make the difference in someone else's life

See, they're all important because all of these make up the life we live. Spending the right amount of time on projects and tasks at the right time, is where we Plan. There is nothing magical about this planner system except what you make it to be. Linking the different areas of your life into one planner is a vital key.

You can't use a different brain for your professional life and your personal life. As much as we try to separate events into what we are suppose to be doing, based on where we are, like home or work, our brains just don't work that way. You are the common denominator.

Some people are naturally organized, I was not. I needed to learn the systems from other people, and bring those together to work for me. Does this mean life is all peachy now?

Well with deliberate and proactive planning, coupled with freeing my mind for being the purpose filled individual I should be, then yeah I think so.

Finally the 5th system is

where you bring these

processes together

Evernote is Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android compatible.

I painfully realized through being busy and having less accomplished then needed, that saying yes and accepting every request that came my way, was keeping me from saying yes, to what was important for me.