Planning your time: Calendars, lists & plans

Calendars, lists and plans are only tools to help you execute on the above principles. Getting things done by David Allen is the most useful, comprehensive system of managing your time, tasks and life through and beyond these tools. If you do not want to read the entire book, we recommend you watch at least this video:

You might also want to watch these additional videos:

There are a couple bullet points worth remembering to this system that you should definitely be aware of when handling your list systems, calendars and plans:

  • Use at least three kinds of lists. You should have one list that is solely dedicated to capturing your ideas. This list should be regularly reviewed and most of these tasks will probably be abandoned by you. Have an execution list of things you need to get done. You can have this list on a weekly or on a daily level. I usually have it on a weekly level. It is only important that by the end of the day or the week all of these tasks are done or postponed to the next morning.
  • Have a ‘pending’ list, which reminds you about anything important you’re waiting for. For example, you’ve just sent an important follow-up email to a sales lead. You will mark this in your ‘pending list’ to make sure that if there’s no reply in two weeks, you don’t forget about following up. You should review your pending list on a weekly basis. Use a weekly calendar reminder to review your pending list.
  • Don’t confuse appointments and tasks. Only put tasks in your calendar when they are terminable and have to happen at that very time. For example, if you might have the following three tasks today: A fixed call at 12.00pm, a report to finish and sending a follow-up email about a call you had yesterday. Only your call belongs in your calendar. This is because you want to separate terminable events from non-terminable events. This allows you to focus on the most important tasks first, reorder your tasks quicker and build an awareness of how much time of your week is specifically tied to terminable events thus preventing you from executing.
  • Don’t confuse projects and tasks. A task is something you should be able to immediately execute. It’s best explained by David Allen, e.g. in his TEDx Amsterdam Talk at ~11 minutes and 10 seconds. If your task is not executable, it is either useless or part of something bigger. This ‘something bigger’ is likely a project, whether you have formulated it clearly or not. Such a project should have a project plan with a couple of deliverables that might have to be delivered by you or by others. A deliverable usually still needs to be broken down into a series of executable tasks. As a founder or manager, you will consistently need to jump between the high level picture (project) and the work on the ground (tasks) and make sure both are aligned. 

Actionsteps

Put all of this into practice and create a project plan for your venture.