With several hours being spent in work from home, it is getting difficult to manage the daily “unplanned” work from getting mixed into the planned agenda for the day. This framework helped me plan my day in a manner which sticks till the day end, involves no calendar scheduling or any app, but just a pen and paper.
Why burn out happens?
- Just doing tasks and not thinking in a direction
- Randomly picking tasks
- No plan for the day
- Some days over planned, some are empty
- Wrong tasks picked on wrong days
- Unable to deliver value to team
- Missing deadlines
- Unable to deliver value to self
- Overpromising and under delivering
- Staying too long in the meetings
- Eating out the productive time of the day in cluttered things
To prevent burn out and manage your work while also satisfying yourself at the day end we can use a small framework.
What kind of problems does this framework solve?
- Know how much you can digest a day.
- Prioritization of tasks
- Compiling big and small work all together
- Plan for next day beforehand.
- If plan changes in between, doesnt disturb your rest of the day
- Measure your productivity in the end of the day
- Improvise it as you go
The above promises are the ones that are pretty much sorted with this framework, your problems can be different but these are the toughest to handle in most of the cases and we just break our daily schedule to cater the need of the hour.
Take a piece of paper or your notebook, keep it in a landscape view and draw 3 columns on the paper as:
The idea is to hypozoom into your day plan rather than planning a week or a month. Whenever you start your day, start writing your tasks in the 3 columns as per the priority. I am also going to add some adjectives to exactly describe what kind of tasks I choose to put in each columns. All the tasks in the 3 sections are going to be single liner with max 5 words and not at all going to be long paragraphs. If this requires more detail then it means you need to break it down to multiple tasks. Also, we are not going to add any time or schedule to these tasks, you are free to use as much time you want but that just impacts the overall time you have for the day.
What comes in “Now”?
The most important or the time sensitive tasks that are to be picked immediately comes in Now section. I also put customer facing, blocker and high priority tasks in this section. Also, sometimes I pick a task in this section which once completed gives me undisturbed bandwidth for the whole day.
What comes in “Next”?
Next section describes the part of the day which has all the tasks which are just to be done today and can be prioritized interchangeably within the section itself. I usually put mission-sensitive tasks in this section which impacts my daily missions or objective that I am working on. I also put my daily repetitive tasks in this section and ensure that it never jumps off to Now section, as I want to spare that section for the utmost important things only.
What comes in “Later”?
Later section is like my bin to put all the tasks that are just to be done today and have no urgent significance, so that I can complete these tasks in between or may be at the end of the day. These are mostly small tasks that can take 10-15 mins. Also if I skip these tasks for the day in case I didnt have the bandwidth then also it should not effect my day schedule or the plan of the day as the idea is to deliver maximum value for the day.
This framework is not named it yet but it helps manage my day. Will update it as I encounter more problems and will try to incorporate within this model to deliver self value daily. Sharing a day’s plan for reference.