How I wrote five blog posts in five weeks

This will be the fifth post I have made in five weeks. Not that impressive really, but it is part of something bigger in my quest to live intentionally, and learning to be effective. I am drawn to this word effective because it is about more than the number of things you get done, it is about how important they are. I want to do important things, not lots of things.

I have never had a great system of keeping track of tasks and projects, which makes it pretty hard to be productive, effective or intentional. I need a structure that had been created by somebody with more experience than me. With very little thought and pretty spontaneously I decided to try out Full Focus Planner. I have been using it for about six weeks now. Six weeks is far from enough for me to say my life is permanently made wonderful by this small book I carry around, but it is enough to start getting a feel for how it can work for me.

The basics of the system are that you set SMART goals by quarter. Each week you review the previous week for lessons learned and set a big three focus for the coming week. Each day you set a big three for the day and list other tasks. You also have four intentional times to, among other things, make sure what you working on connects to you daily and weekly big three and your goals.

So…big thoughts:

Goals

Connecting tasks with goals definitely help keep you on track and help make faster progress towards goals. This has probably been the biggest benefit for me so far. Reviewing goals often when I am setting tasks naturally makes my tasks match up with goals.

Challenge: one thing that I am still figuring out is how to integrate work goals and projects into the goals of the system. For me the goals are all personal, so I have to find ways to make sure I am including work things as well.

Analog

I like having to write things down. It reinforces them, keeps them in a distraction-free area, and lets me set the book open next to me whatever I am doing for reference.

Challenge: This is not a task manager or a project manager. It is really about bringing focus to your day. I am still struggling a bit with how to integrate work tasks and project management, our family kanban wall, my personal kanban wall, calendar, etc. There are still lots of places stuff is stored, and I need to keep streamlining that. Also, each planner lasts a quarter. Four books a year. What am I supposed to do with all these dead trees?

Overhead

There is no doubt doing the Full Focus system adds some overhead to my day. It calls for four ritual times each day, a weekly review, and a quarterly review. These can be a lot of different things, but partly they are for reviewing tasks and goals, filling in the planner, going over schedules, and reviewing lessons learned. But, this is time well spent, there is no doubt that the increase in effectiveness that results is worth it.

The Dip

It’s pretty easy to be excited about stuff like new planners and goals for about 3 days, use it really effectively, and then slide back to most of your own habits. This is kind of where I am at right now. I see how it can be really effective, and I have to really push through the temptation to use it half way so I can pretend I am getting the benefit when really I am just putting some paint on old bad habits. I am trying to really focus on fully engaging with the process of the planner, not just doing it halfway.

The Full Focus Planner won’t do your work for you

From reading the reviews of Full Focus Planner, and other productivity systems, it seems like some people have found a way to make the system actually do their work for them. I can assure you this is not the case. I am still tempted by distraction, often lazy, pick the easy work over the hard work, and let the urgent crowd out the important. There is no doubt that the planner is helping me get better at these things. But, I have a really long way to go.

Five blog posts in five weeks

One of my goals is to write a post every week. My streak is at five, which is by far the most consistent I have ever been in writing, and a lot of this is because using the planner brings me back to my goals on a daily basis. Success!

As I learn to be more effective, more intentional, and create more value in the world I want to embrace the tools that are available. Nothing Beth and I are doing is all that new or original, we are just trying to apply things we know to our own lives, Full Focus Planner is turning into one of those tools. I hope that these five blog posts are part of a bigger trend in my life of setting goals and accomplishing them while being effective in the big and small parts of life.

Want to read the five blog posts? Here they are:

  1. The one are reading
  2. Lean Family?
  3. Weekend to do list
  4. Tell me about this…
  5. eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack Reveiw and Life Application

If you want more info, check out fullfocusplanner.com (disclosure: I get a discount on my next planner if you use this link). If you want to see some nice pictures of the planner check out this review over on rightlydesigned.com. The Full Focus Planner is based on Michael Hyatt’s book Your Best Year Ever and his Free to Focus system (neither of which I have read or used…I just sort of jumped into the planner).

If you are looking lightweight productivity tools I have used Trello, Zenkit,  Storyline Productivity Schedule, and The Task Order Up!. All of them did their job for a season, and are worth looking into. 

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