As the first month of the year draws to an end, the resolutions and goals that we set are either slipping away or coming more into focus. While we might try to keep all of those promises to ourselves, just writing a list about what we want to achieve often just isn’t enough, and we need something more beneficial than a list of goals to keep up accountable and motivated. While the first three weeks of 2016 have already gone by, it’s not too late to get on track with a blueprint. Here’s more about one of the tools being used by productivity professionals to guide even the most manic of work schedules:
1. Start with Excel
Excel is one of the most multifunctional kinds of software, but unless you’re number crunching or very good about drawing up a personal budget, how many of us really use it to its full potential? While some of us might be more used to Word or other kinds of word processing software, Excel, or any other number processing software, its actually very helpful in tracking the amount of time you spend on tasks. By creating a document called “[Your Name] Blueprint 2016”, you’re already on your way to managing your time better.
2. Block off times for tasks
While we can write endless lists, and things to do in our diaries, wall calendars and even loose scraps of paper, what list really holds you accountable to what you want to achieve? Using a blueprint and sharing it with your family, friends and colleagues is a way to group all of your significant focuses into one document. Start by creating a document with a column for each day of the week, with enough space to also fit in a cell below for each hour of the day, from as early to as late as you like.
3. Fill in the blanks
Once you’ve set up a weekly calendar format in your Excel document, it’s now time to populate it. Use colour, different coloured text, or whatever you feel will help you to organise your time. This is really your chance to include everything, and it helps to colour code it all, from personal commitments like that language class, to the hour in the morning that you need to just sit and plan your day, known in productivity circles as a “power hour”.
You can also get creative with the way you group tasks, but the point is to have a holistic reference, one that gives you a reference point for your weekly activities, so you can always be sure to have a solid foundation when things start to go awry.
4. Refer to it regularly
Once again, it can be fun and exciting to create a document like this, with all the colours and encouraging thoughts about what you are going to achieve. Sticking to a plan, and really questioning its value to you is another matter entirely. If you’re really serious about making progress, everything you do in a given day needs to relate to your blueprint. While a degree of flexibility is definitely necessary, a solid blueprint can help to guide your choice of daily activities by giving you time to have that impromptu meeting, or even spend an hour writing in your journal.
5. Change it
Some people create an annual blueprint, while others prefer to alter theirs monthly or weekly, depending on how often you feel you need to revise your schedule. Depending on the work you do, it’s also possible that you might need to accept that your day can’t always be that planned out, but that you can have a dedicated allotment of time for important activities, including your personal life.