“E-M-P-T-Y”

 

It’s the beginning of the third month of 2017.

I was working on my annual performance self-review. So I went through my files to check the status of some projects. I suddenly took note of my 2016 planner. It was hidden inside my drawer. It got my curiosity so I have decided to browse through the content.

I realized that except for some scribbles in less than ten pages of that planner, it was unused at all.

It was EMPTY!

Well that was no surprise. I am not the type who likes handling administrative work and doodling about the things that I will be doing in the next ten months. Besides I usually delegate what I think as “admin” work to other people. I just devote my brain power to what I think as productive activities.

Don’t take this wrong. I have nothing against formal planning process. In fact, it is part of my usual recommendations to my clients. I would use the line — “You need to plan, otherwise you are planning to fail!”. This is not because the books say so. It is because compared to my personal activities, corporate activities and the number of people involve in each of these activities are overwhelming. And without a formal planning process, realizing their goals would most likely be difficult.

I had people in the past pushing me to write my activities in a planner. They would egg me to use it. So I got planners as gifts from them. Well if you run through my activities you would most likely agree with them.

dragon boat three times a week…

boxing three times a week…

running every day and long-distance running on weekends…

an hour of voice lessons a week…

writing articles for my blog…

Also I need to mention that I am serving as a board of trustee of a professional organization. I serve as the audit committee chairman of another non-profit organization. Teach in leading universities. I conduct talks and seminars. Then, I concurrently manage two departments in the company that I work for. I also usually accompany my daughter during her soccer training and tournaments. Not to mention the household chores.

And many more…

Basing on these, you would probably also tell me that I need to use a planner.

Let me clarify this. I do plan!

Except that I have my unconventional way of doing it. How do you think I am able to juggle all of these without planning. Yes, again (to put emphasis), I plan my activities. All the time. I just don’t follow the usual ways of doing it. And it works for me.

Early in the morning, I would create my daily checklist in a piece of post-it. I would took note of those items I need to prioritize and, monitor my progress through out the day.

Now you will argue that it is just for daily activities. True!

For my medium-term activities, I usually use a piece of scratch paper.

Scribble on it my activities for the week or even for the month (or the next). Then I would cramp this piece of paper inside my bag, which I check regularly.

I know that a lot of you would say that a planner is more organized. That I would agree.

However, it is too formal for me that using a planner suffocates me, so I am not comfortable using it. It always feels that my brain is being restricted by the rows and columns in that booklet. I wanted to write more information but most of the time the allotted space seems to be not always enough. Then the lines bother me so much that I prefer a blank piece of scratch paper instead.

This had been my problem ever since I encountered a planner more than a decade ago.

So I made my decision then. I just need the clean portion of a scratch paper to organize my thoughts and activities. And every time I need to update my activities, I just pull out another piece of scratch paper and re-write things.

That’s it!

This works for me really well that I never miss on any of my activities.

Friends, we most of the time would impose our own formula to other people.

We saw something… Tried it…  And noted that it worked for us…

So we would push others to do the same that it sometimes appears as imposing. I have nothing against it. That is actually a sort-of “kind” thing to do — sharing your techniques. Just don’t overdo it. And remember that not using a planner is not the same as “NOT PLANNING”.

One thing, however, that you need to realize is that we have our uniqueness. That a lot of times extends to the things that we do and how we do it. There is no such thing as one-shoe-fits-all strategy. We just have to learn to respect what works for other people, instead of imposing at them. What is important is that you get the same results.

Another thing that I would like you all to not miss is the need to plan. Planning is a major enabler that would help us know how to get to where we want to be. So you should really plan, and be intentional with your activities to make sure that your plans pan out. Just make sure though that you’re comfortable with the way you’re doing it — using a planner or what-have-you. Because if you are unhappy with a certain technique, then it might not work.

Again (to emphasize), you plan.

It can help reduce the distance between where you are now and where you want to be.

 

PS: Image is taken from https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2014/11/03/10/47/notes-514998_960_720.jpg