03 July 2016

How to organize your tasks per hour, day, week, month and year using a plain binder notebook

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If you are riding a car, you see clearer the things that are near than those that are far. The far objects gives us a sense of direction, e.g. North, South, East, or West. On the other hand, the near objects give us warnings on whether we need to steer left or right. The same is true with planning: the long-term goals give us a general direction of our life, while the short-term goals are what we need to accomplish each day.

There are many notebook planners in the market from detailed calendars with 30-minute resolutions, to general-type notebook planners with formatted days, weeks, and month pages. What I propose is just an ordinary binder notebook with unformatted pages for making short-term and long-term goals. You'll just do the formatting yourself. Here's how:

1. Get a binder notebook.

I'm using 26-ring Septcouleur binder notebook, but the page fillers are from Acryl. Septcouleur page fillers are of excellent quality for different types of pens. But since they are imported, the price can be prohibitive. Acryl also has binder notebooks, but in plastic and not steel. I am using Acryl binders for filing my archival notes, but I am using Septcouleur binder for everyday note-taking with my Parker fountain pen.

2. Mark consecutive pages by day of the week

I use a red pen to mark the page headers by MON, TUE, WED, THU, FRI, SAT, and SUN.

3. Write down your tasks for the day

If Today is a Saturday, I go to the Saturday page and write down the date and the tasks for the day. Each task has a square box that I can check if I have completed the task. If I moved the task to another day of the following week, I mark the tick box "moved", so that I can cross it out of my mind. Once all the tasks in one page have been checked or moved, I cross out the whole page. And once I crossed out both the front and back pages of the day, I throw away the page and get a new one as replacement

4. Create an HOUR page

I usually make an HOUR page before the MON page. The HOUR page header is in red ink. In the hour page, I write the hour of the day and not the minutes or seconds. I underline the hour of the day by red ink and write the tasks which I think I can finish in one hour. That's usually just 2 to 3 tasks which I get from my day of the week pages. Doing so allows me to focus knowing that the tasks are few and not insurmountable. It also allows me to plan ahead in three steps in one smooth workflow, e.g. go to the bookstore, buy a notebook, and eat lunch.

5. Create consecutive pages by month of the year

I use a red pen to mark the page headers JAN, FEB, MAR, APR, MAY, JUN, JUL, AUG, SEP, OCT, NOV, and DEC. These comes after the day of the week pages. If the task occurs on the month but not within the week, I put this task in the page of the month. As the days go by, that task will be within a week's time frame, and I transfer it in the day of the wee page and mark the task in the month's page as "moved". Once all the tasks in a a page of the month have been moved or corrected, I cross out the page. If both sides of the page have been crossed out, I throw the page away and get a new one as replacement.

6. Create a consecutive pages for the next five years

I haven't yet done this, but I think this is a good exercise if you wish to make 5-year plans, e.g. get married, buy a house, finish postgraduate studies abroad, etc. If you're a manager, then this 5-year window is really a must for management of long-term goals, such as those pertaining to personnel and assets, e.g. retirement of employees, job vacancies, purchase of new equipment, sale of stocks, etc. Once the tasks are within a year time-frame, the tasks can then be moved into a particular month.


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