Agenda: make it work for you, not against you
An agenda is known for to have many benefits from helping you organize your daily life and reminding important things to improving your productivity increasing your sense of control. Many people use agendas to plan their tasks, events, and appointments. But how effectively have you been using your agenda?
It is not quite easy to adopt habits of both scheduling and following your plans. It is also hard to be motivated constantly to accomplish your goals. So, with these 7 suggested steps and tips we hope to help you in optimizing your use of agenda and ultimately getting more things done.
1. Know your main goals
It is crucial to know why you want to have an agenda and thus you must first determine your goals & objectives.
It will help you choose a suitable agenda types and shift your usages of agenda into the right direction. For instance, if you want to manage only your appointments and/or special occasions, it is better to use your phone’s Calendar app. This app is both easy to use and well-equipped with “reminder” and “repeating” functions compared to either an advanced planner app or notebook.
2. Get the right agenda type
It’s up to you to use whatever tools that suits your preferences. Just remember that the right tool needs to fit well with your purposes of using it, to provide you an easy interface, and to function sufficiently, i.e. not having too many confusing functions, but just enough to meet your requirements. Whatever tools you choose, keep in mind the importance of “backing-up”, especially for those people with a massive set of to-do’s.
A couple of tips for optimizing the effectiveness:
– Use online apps with synchronization functions: easily and conveniently accessible (almost) everywhere with extra functions of synchronization and reminder. A great example of this is Wunderlist;
– Be consistent in your choice: only one online/digital app for all of your electronic devices;
– Use digital and paper-based planners simultaneously.
3. Be aware of you limits
Yes, this one is also important to think about. Agenda or planner should be more like a “to-do” lists rather than a list of ambitious goals that are most probably unattainable.
Being realistic about your capabilities will help you create a feasible plan and give you a better chance at accomplish things without getting too stressed. It will prepare you mentally for certain tasks you cannot achieve immediately or ones you cannot complete immediately as they come. At the same time, you will be more motivated knowing that the plan is doable.
4. Set up buffers
Buffers are the the times between when you get the tasks or when you schedule activities and when you actually complete them/do them.
If there is no urgency, and the task has a deadline in the farther future, it is better to put it off until tomorrow, or until another day that you feel is most appropriate for it.
It is because when you put something you are not going to (or not want to) do it at a specific time in your agenda, the possibility of not doing that task is high. Repeating doing so could generate a bad habit in the end.
Then, how to set up buffers?
> First of all, you need to know your limits of things you can actually do per day.
> Secondly, find out or set up a deadline for a specific task, and note it in your agenda.
> Finally, break the main tasks down into smaller pieces if possible and schedule them a couple days before the deadline
The main point is that you need to allocate as much time as you can to complete the task in the most feasible way. By breaking down the tasks, you will not feel that much of pressures from the original one, especially for larger projects or tasks.
Also, once you finish a task, you will gain more sense of accomplishment and encouragement to pursue next steps. This would keep you on time, on track and motivated.
5. Prioritize and deal with backlogs
You can start by prioritizing things that are deadline driven (for example: tasks with deadlines). For the rest, give them equal value, and do them when you feel it is the most appropriate and convenient. This gives you a real sense of freedom and flexibility when you need to choose among options.
Finally, let’s leave some “free time” in your agenda (not the same as leisure time!). This free time allows you to do any work-related things that you want: working on the next day’s parts, polishing your done tasks, or even resolving backlogs
6. Use agenda as a habit
Daily planners need to be used regularly. Otherwise, you do not have any sense of obligations in accomplished your planned tasks. It is not easy to take up this habit though.
So, if you are just starting, go step by step, i.e. writing things that will definitely be done firstly. Accomplishing those easy tasks will encourage you in continuing following your plan. Then, you can gradually increase the amount of tasks. After a while, you will develop a habit of scheduling and accomplishing planned tasks successfully.
7. Personalize and decorate
Color coding is definitely recommended. It helps to distinguish the priorities and different kinds of task. It also motivate you in using the agenda often. A proper amount is about 4-5 colors.
Post-it notes can be useful as well. However, it is better to take notes directly into your agenda, since it reduces the chance of “being blown away.”
Drawing and writing short diary can be done as well. They will allow you to express you feelings as well the result of a day. Strongly recommended for a good day.
So that’s all for our suggestions, and hopefully, it can optimize your efficiency.