What’s Your Baseline?

“One of the greatest Polish experts on molecular mechanisms of memory, Prof. Lech Kaczmarek, surprised me once with his original solution: I do not keep notes and I do not have an appointment calendar. Whatever I forget, it could not have been important enough. Indeed, natural forgetting mechanisms may act as a good way to thin out the to-do list; however, this solution probably isn’t suitable for everyone. Its main shortcoming: problems with stress management. Many of you would probably keep worrying than an important appointment, deadline or promise would not be met (with untold consequences).” Source: http://www.supermemo.com/articles/tasklists.htm

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Do you believe in planning? Do you have a calendar or a task list? Do you “go digital” or keep it simple with pen and paper?  Perhaps the most important question — have you been using any such “system” continuously for more than a year (i.e. does your personal approach actually work)? Plans are nothing more than a prognosis of what can happen. Plans are not straight paths we follow, but they can serve as a baseline to which we compare what’s happening in our lives. Here’s what Scott Berkun wrote on planning in projects:

“Later on, when scheduling became something I was responsible for, I realized the unspoken truth about schedules. They are not gifts from the future. There is no magic formula or science for creating perfect schedules. Despite my youthful perceptions, scheduling is not an isolated task: it always represents and encompasses many different aspects of what the project is now and will be later. Schedules are simply a kind of prediction. No matter how precisely they are drafted or how convincing they appear, they are just a summation of lots of little estimations, each one unavoidably prone to different kinds of unforeseeable oversights and problems.” Source: Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun

Schedules are only predictions, true. But the process of personal planning helps us answer important questions. Questions like the ones below:

  • Am I in line with my values? Do I keep the end in mind?
  • Do I maintain a balance between all important aspects of my life?
  • Am I [only] doing things right or am I doing the right things?

This is why I love to plan.

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The two approaches that seem to be the most popular on the net:

  1. Getting Things Done (David Allen)
  2. FranklinCovey (Stephen R. Covey)

I respect the first one, I use the latter. But what’s more important, with each year I become more aware that planning (the approach) is a very individual thing, i.e. can only be customized to suit one’s needs and should never be blindly re-used.

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