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Be More Creative and Productive with a Daily Flight Plan

Daily Flight Plan to be More Productive and Creative - Delightability, LLC.

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Personal Productivity is about:

  • Having the right mental models
  • Putting in place systems that work for you
  • Maintaining clarity over your priorities

Having the right mental models

Without the right mental models for how things work, you can burn much time and not make any progress. This is bad for you and those that rely on you, whether that is at home, work, or somewhere else. A simple mental model that is commonly understood is the water faucet. Most people understand that when you lift or turn the handle on a faucet water will begin to flow. Imagine for a moment that we didn’t have that mental model. We’d go thirsty while the solution to our thirst is hidden in plain sight. Imagine if we didn’t understand how to use a grocery store. Personal productivity likewise requires that we have mental models for how things work. Things like the calendar or breaking something complex into smaller components can help us be more productive. This is why the Daily Flight Plan includes a quarterly calendar and the Big Picture.

Putting in place systems that work for you

No matter how much or how little each of us do, we have systems that we’ve adopted to get on with living, working, or recreating. Perhaps you have a system to pay your bills online, before they are overdue. Or, perhaps you have a system that you’ve adopted to arrive at meetings on time or never run out of clean shirts or coffee. Using a Daily Flight Flight is a system to formalize the unspoken and  unwritten agreement between you and your good intentions. It is a system that can be used daily or whatever period you wish in order to document and reflect on what you think is important to get done. The items you list on your Daily Flight Plan can be tiny tasks or giant undertakings. Adapt and morph this system over time to fit your own style and needs.

Maintaining clarity over your priorities

You’ll get interrupted, that is a fact. Reading this might be an interruption. If you write down your priorities you’ll at least have a fighting chance to revisit your priorities as you receive new information or things and people clamor for your attention. There is a funny thing that happens when you right down your priorities, namely, you free your mind. Your mind will continue to noodle on things that float around in your head until you formally commit to do them, whether that is in a Daily Flight Plan or another system. You can have things you don’t want to do, things you definitely have to do, and things you wish you had time to do. In your mind, you don’t have a very good way to bookkeep and differentiate between these priorities. On the Daily Flight Plan you can write things down, create an ordered list, cross things off, assign a future date to revisit, etc. It helps to simplify a mind running in overdrive mode.

Get Started

So, give it a try. Click the image to download the full size PDF. Save it to your computer and print it as you need it. This free little tool has worked for me in my personal and professional live and it can work for you, too. If you want to know more about the little icons, then read the earlier blog posts and my book, The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations.

Links to previous blog posts about the Daily Flight Plan

A More Productive Happier Life with a Daily Flight Plan and Q4 Calendar

Is Your Flight Plan Ready for Your Small Business? 

Free 2014 Daily Flight Plan with Q3 Calendar and Big Picture Reminder for SuperHeros

Free 2014 Q2 Calendar Tool to Make Daily Living a Little Less Argh

Free Q1 Calendar Tool to Make 2014 Sing

 

Greg-Olson-author-image - The Experience Design BLUEPRINT - Delightability - The Big Idea ToolkitGreg Olson is the author of The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations. See the Book and Author Summary PDF or find the book on Amazon. Read the reviews and see what others are saying.

Category : Blog

Free 2014 Daily Flight Plan with Q3 Calendar and Big Picture Reminder for SuperHeros

delight flight plan Q3 2014 calendar with big picture reminder -screen shot - big idea toolkit

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Daily Flight Plan for Newbies and Pros Alike

Making a daily flight plan for your personal and professional life is a good idea. Like a pilot that files a flight plan, it helps communicate where you are going. It can help in the event of trouble and give you or others a place to look for you at your intended destination, in the event you fail to arrive. The flight plan doesn’t discriminate between the novice or the seasoned pro. I use one and you should, too.

Avoid Collisions-in-Thought

A collision-in-thought is where you try to do two things that are opposed to each other. You wouldn’t likely attempt to fly a plane in opposite directions at the same time. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t. But, sometimes our behaviors and actions resemble this. We say we are going to do one thing and we behave in a way that opposes the very thing we committed to. By making a daily flight plan and making priorities visible you are less likely to engage in self sabotaging behavior that thwarts the very plans you make.

Get More Important Stuff Done and Feel Better Doing it

The feeling of accomplishment is self reinforcing. We all feel better when we meet our commitments. Making your daily priorities clear and highly visible is the first step. Giving yourself permission and capacity to work toward those commitments is step two. Going from an incomplete to-do list to a checked off to-done list is something we all feel great about. Imagine our life-long collection of to-dos including our famous bucket lists.

When the Path Forward is Fuzzy

When you aim to do something, but don’t yet have perfect clarity, at least try to identify the next step. You’ll often find that by starting, you’ll get more clear on additional steps. Our brains are a bit funny like that. They are working even when we appear not to be. It also helps to be mindful of your motivation for taking on something in the first place. The Big Picture Tool forces you to be more clear on the big idea and its intended payoff. The Daily Flight PLan has a mini-Big Picture built into it. When you’re stuck try to visualize the Big Picture – not every single step and minute details, but the big idea, the payoff, and the big chunky steps for implementation. Learn more about the Big Picture tool, and the three psychological zones in Chapter 12 of The Experience Design BLUEPRINT or view the Big Picture video for a ridiculous example of building a sandwich that should drive the point home.

It’s Good to Have a Plan, but Being Flexible is Important

Sure, things will come up whether they are emergencies thrust upon you or new insights that you’ll spark,  leading to new opportunities. It’s fine to change priorities and pursue a new opportunity, even mid flight on your plan. But, if you are going to change priorities and your personal flight path, at least do it consciously. This is a better approach than suddenly departing from the commitments you’ve made to yourself that might have you later surprised when you don’t reach your destination.

You are a SuperHero

You can get more stuff done with todays tools, devices, and connections than several of your equivalent selves could get done, even a decade ago. If you think of your 1950’s equivalent you are even more powerful. There is no match for what you can do. But, if you’re not careful you could also get caught up in the superstorm of noise, social media, polarizing politics, or chasing the latest internet meme. I’m not saying you should eschew all things social. In fact, I think you should be even more civically engaged and social. But, to do that and complete your daily work and obligations you best create and use a daily flight plan. Good luck SuperHero.

Category : Blog

If you Want to Remember More Stuff, then Create More Brain Hooks

The more connections you can give a new memory to things already remembered in your brain, the more likely it is your are going to remember that new memory. I call these Brain Hooks. Think of it as Velcro for the brain. The brain is a natural pattern making machine. When you can tap into the pattern it is easier to recall something “without thinking.” That is why it is easier for an adult that cooks to remember items on a common recipe when at the grocery store as opposed to their teenage son who hasn’t cooked or shopped much at all. The adult can recreate the cooking and shopping experiences and “recall” the item stowed tidily in their head. They are pulling from various connections and patterns whereas the teenager hasn’t yet built those connections.

Image of the Wall that Seperates us from our Intended Destination - from the Experience Design BLUEPRINTBut, when the teenage boy sees the cute girl in the store, a different pattern emerges. When this happens, he’ll surely have to text mom for the items he’s already forgotten. To learn more on what we know about the brain, check out the book, “Brain Rules,” by John Medina.  Building brain hooks is the subject of Recipe #46 in Chapter 11: Barriers to Innovation and Overcoming the Wall in my book, “The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations.”  If you want to design more remarkable experiences and then make them come true, check out the book. It is chock full of 25 examples, 56 recipes, and 78 images that will guide you or your team toward creating a better tomorrow.

Category : Blog

Try to Unthink that Thought – Just Try

debbie faas golden nugget paintingA friend of mine, Chuck Frey wrote an article about the Painter’s Technique a while ago. It really resonated with me so I commented on it.  It has doubly resonated with me over the last week since my artist friend Debbie Faas validated the painter’s technique is in fact a real phenomena that she experiences.  She knows firsthand since she just lived a 5 and 1/2 week painting journey commissioned  by a Seattle technology company.   I also had the opportunity to share the Big Idea Toolkit in a Tools roundtable with the local chapter of the Institute of Management Consultants.  In that discussion, every person in the room realized that ideas come at times sometimes inconvenient, even the day after your big strategic plan is completed.

What do you do with a good idea that comes at the wrong time?

Simply put – you cannot unthink a thought.  Your brain will continue to wrestle with it, good or bad even without your trying.  Mike Dooley notes this in his email signature of his daily Notes from the Universe where  he says, Thoughts become things…choose the good ones.

In the Big Idea Toolkit, this is precisely why we have a PlayGround.  When you get an idea, put in in the PlayGround.  Whether it advances immediately or ever, the brain will continue to build on it and create new possibilities.  If your PlayGround is shared with others, ideas pay dividends. Chuck’s original article appears here.

the PlayGround from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.Here is my comment on his article restated.   I hope this inspires you to create and share your PlayGround.

Chuck, this article really resonates with me. I am a big believer in the power of visual thinking. Like John Medina says in Brain Rules with Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.  I use mind mapping software to organize and see connections when I’m working alone. But when I’m collaborating with others, need to work quickly and communicate or see the Big Picture, then I use tools from the Big Idea Toolkit. http://www.thebigideatoolkit.com This has the added advantaged of the large format (20 x 30 inch visuals), multiple real time input (everybody on the team can write on a sticky note), and spatial adjacency (I can see each poster/board at the same time) . I like computers and all things digital but there is a time to be digital and a time to be in the real world – which is and always has been analog. @markjl – yes big hand drawn = better.

The painters technique really makes sense to me. Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison solved problems by cat napping similarly. It allows your brain to continue to work on things while you’re away. There is a related powerful phenomena – spatial adjacency. Think of an art gallery experience that unfolds as you enter each room. Each passage you enter reveals a new splash of style and color. You naturally do a quick scan before your eye settles in on something of interest. Compare this experience to the same art being presented slide by slide in a PowerPoint presentation. In the former the brain benefits from spatial adjacency and in the latter suffers from the lack thereof. If you want to imagine yourself to better possibilities you need to get bigger, and get adjacent. Then, let the painter technique unfold as you seemingly “check out” for a while from one piece and then “check back in” to the canvas of your choosing.

Category : Blog

Productive living is about project management not time management

The thing about time is it will pass you by, whether you are busy, idle, wholly aware of it, or completely oblivious to the seconds ticking on.

Ultimately, we all suffer from time poverty because the number of hours in the day are fixed. Like the law of conservation of energy – energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form, we can’t create more time we can only make it useful by what we do with the time we have.

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”  Benjamin Franklin

We care about time management because we are trying to cram more things done into the little time we all have.

The key to getting more stuff done is to have the right mental models, tools, and processes in place. Highly productive people aren’t necessarily lucky or smarter than you, they simply have built better habits. You’ll need better habits, no matter which system you adopt or invent.

Most people don’t manage complex projects with huge risks that need to be mitigated, involve many stakeholders, or have project life cycles that span years and geographies. Luckily, for most of us life isn’t that complicated. Most of us have to simply juggle between our various personal and professional actions, deliverables, to-dos, and calendar events. The trouble is it isn’t that simple and one tool probably won’t do the trick.

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”  Henry David Thoreau

Here is an assortment of tools and principles that I find useful and how I use them.

Image of Calendars, Planning, and Electronic Organization Tools put in perspective - Delightability LLC

The Distracting Idea

First Principle – Ideas often come at inconvenient times.
Tool I use – I separate ideas from execution using the PlayGround to capture ideas and the PlayBook to document what I’ve committed to. Periodically I review all ideas and then decide if I’ll add them to my PlayBook. I don’t let the “idea du jour” distract me from what I’ve already committed to.

Sight-line to the Future

The PlayBook is where I track the next 90 days or so by week. I show all of my major events, milestones, and the deliverables that I need to create or big actions I’ll need to track. It is fast and uses sticky notes so I can reconfigure it if I change priorities. I have a more granular view on my paper calendar but the PlayBook keeps me tracking to my overall plan and most importantly, makes work visible.

Good old Fashioned Calendar with a Twist

In addition to the PlayBook calendar, I also use an electronic calendar. In my case I use Google calendar on the computer and my phone. Because the electronic calendar is poorly configured, not instantly glance-able and lacks the “doodle” factor I also carry a printed calendar that I can capture notes on or affix a sticky note to. I have a paper calendar for each week and also note the week number. This is a feature you can turn on in Google calendar by the way.

Making Communications Visible is Key

I configure SMS alerts for reminders tied to my electronic calendar. I also use Highrise as a CRM tool to track prospects and assign future f/u tasks which are emailed to me as a reminder. But, for the week I’m in I print a communication/follow-up sheet. This sheet shows the person I need to follow up with, what I need to provide them, and whether the communications will be phone, face-to-face, email, or direct mail. If you meet many people you are likely creating a card graveyard on your desk. I was too, before I adopted this system.

Print or Electronic?

Second Principle – the best answer is usually “It Depends.”
If you use your phone as your calendar and you are talking on your phone then you are blind to your calendar. If you need to add a note, do it directly in your printed calendar, so you don’t have to write it down twice. Also, in the event your phone is in need of a charge, you’ll still have your weekly plan, right there in plain sight.

Spatial Adjacency is Good for your Brain

If you keep your old calendars and communication/follow-up sheets you’ll be able to review them at a glance while eating breakfast or celebrating a job well done. Your brain will likely recognize patterns and see new connections. These insights will spawn additional ideas and you’ll know what to do with them because you read this post and followed the First Principle above.

This may seem like a lot of items but if you build a success system and good habits to reinforce your system, then it will be more natural to use it than to operate randomly, poorly execute, suffer from time poverty, and ultimately didn’t-get-it-done-itis.

Learn more at the Big Idea Toolkit website and blog.

Category : Blog

Does Your High Performing Team Have a Different Mental Space for Ideas and Execution?

The highest performing teams don’t need “team building” events because they are already a higher performing team doing the many little things that make the team flow and work well together. Like a good Jazz trio they have a rough plan but can improvise and work off of each other as necessary. Resorting to trust falls and wailing on each other with padded sticks won’t make a low performing team soar.

We’ve found that high performing teams are fully engaged and have a different mental space for dealing with ideas versus working the execution of the plan. We’ve incorporated these realities into the Big Idea Toolkit by including a PlayGround and PlayBooks.

the PlayGround from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.The PlayGround is where high performing teams capture and share ideas. Embrace the notion that ideas can come from anywhere and will often come at times inconvenient. If you still boast an annual planning cycle then you’re probably blind to the best idea which may come the days following the completion of your annual planning. Being blind to ideas that could move your company forward can be detrimental and may serve to disengage the employee or partner whose ideas are ignored. Funny psychological thing is, it is more important to have your idea captured and heard than actually implemented. People like to be heard, respected, and valued. Ignore this reality and you are a dead brand walking.

You know the old adage, ideas are a dime a dozen. Well, in the internet age, they’re actually even cheaper, they’re free. Ideas are great but unless acted on they’ll make no impact in the real world. That is what the PlayBook is for.

Publishing a shared PlayBook reminds a high performing team what they have committed to.

Publishing a shared PlayBook reminds a high performing team what they have committed to. Shared commitment and visibility are prerequisites for excellence in execution. Actions, deliverables, owners, and dates provide the team with clarity on the who, what, and when of execution. Using a weekly 4-Square Personal Action plan further individualizes the PlayBook deliverables so each team member knows what they are doing each step along the way.the PlayBook with a High Performing Team - from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC

Using the PlayGround and PlayBooks helps a team to form productive habits that will help them to make a bigger impact in the world. Use them alone or as part of the complete Big Idea Toolkit and pretty soon, your higher performing team will be celebrating yet another win. And… when you do if you want to celebrate with some trust falls or a stick fight, more power to you.

Category : Blog

Keys? Got it. Phone? Got it. 4-Square Personal Action Plan? Yes, Got that too!

clear path forward with the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.
No doubt you’ve experienced that naked just left the house without your pants feeling. “Wait, no I have my pants on. Oh yeah – I forgot my keys and where did I put my phone?”

When you don’t get important stuff done in your life and time passes you by, you similarly suffer. Even worse, you effect others around you. When you are a slouch, important things remain undone. You feel unproductive and fill your time with whatever, no matter its impact or quality. Stop that!

If you want to lead a more productive life and reduce the stress and expense of living randomly then use the 4-Square Personal Action plan.

Once you begin using the 4-Square Personal Action plan you’ll breathe a little easier, reduce stress, and positively contribute to those important things in your life, whatever they may be. You will find that you’ll have even more time to pick up the new sport, volunteer at that nonprofit, play music, visit friends, or write that book that’s been brewing in your mind.

Example 4-Square Personal Action plan from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.The 4-Square Personal Action plan is a free download. It is part of the Big Idea Toolkit but we’ve made it available to you whether or not you use the entire toolkit.
Using it can save you time, money, gas, relationships, and get you closer to where you want to go, no matter where that is.

Having your weekly todos (deliverables) visible will help to ensure they are top of mind and actually get accomplished. Your brain wants to see things and your inner emotional elephant is motivated when you make visible progress. That is why we feel good when we check things off the todo list.

When we see our “to do” list transform into a “to done” list is motivating and serves as fuel to get even more done. So print out your 4-Square, whether or not you’re using the entire toolkit and begin the highly productive habit of creating the weekly 4-Square Personal Action plan and reviewing it daily. Take it with you, review it often, and get more important stuff done. Oh yeah, one more thing… please remember your keys.

Category : Blog

Your Big Idea – Stop Dabbling and Start Making an Impact

idea lightbulb cup and conversation - the Big Idea Toolkit from Delightability, LLC.I want to share a fresh perspective to the thinking that appeared  in a recent New York Times opinion piece, titled The Elusive Big Idea.

Most people are not deep thinkers anymore.  I believe this to be especially true of the younger generations that can find all of the answers (right or wrong) on Google and text Mom, Dad, or a friend first and think for themselves second.

Our ipods and pads, crackberries and computers have not solved basic human problems that exist in families, the work place, and communities. While our devices and social networks can connect us to more people, across more geographies and across time, they are not a substitute for thinking, great conversation, and taking action.  For that you need to step away from the computer screen, be a better storyteller, and have better conversations.

As Morpheus said in The Matrix, “There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”

We all see the possibilities for improvement at work, in our associations, club, non-profits, churches, government and even our families.  But, too many ideas are not fleshed out with good authentic dialogue and many more are stillborn, never to take shape or have their impact felt in the world.  We need better tools and a new approach.

This is what in part, spurred us to create the Big Idea Toolkit.  The Toolkit helps you to get organized so you can get more important stuff done and make a bigger impact, whether that is for you, your family, work, or your community. It is intentionally designed to force dialogue and leverages the way our brains do their most innovative work.

the Big Idea Toolkit - How it Works - from Delightability, LLC.Whether you work alone or in a group the Big Idea Toolkit gives you a place to:

  • capture ideas
  • get organized
  • execute

The Big Idea Toolkit provides a common big picture with a clear path forward and a playbook of what to do next that keeps everybody motivated and moving forward. Using it or something like it is your best chance to make an impact and realize the possibilities.  So, whether your idea is a big one or a small one doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you makes its impact felt in the world.

Good luck – there is much to make better in this world.

Category : Blog

the PlayGround – Making the Invisible Visible to Get More Done


example of the Playground from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.Chances are you have something wonderful tucked inside your computer – your big idea.  If your anything like me, you’ve started many idea files.  Chances are you’ve also written something down on a scrap of paper, sticky note, or back of the napkin that at the time was of prime importance.  You might have even interrupted a person you were talking to or abruptly stopped what you were doing to write it down, saying “This is a great one, hold on hold on, I’ve got to write this down before I lose it.”

And then… you don’t do anything.  The file gets saved to some weird recess of the computer that made sense at the time and the paper idea morsel goes somewhere, perhaps you’ll discover it later. Whatever that great thing was gets lost, only to be randomly and luckily recalled someday, if at all.

“Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.”
Sir Francis Bacon, English philosopher, statesman, spy, Freemason and essayist (1561 – 1626).

After all, inspiration has expiration and if you don’t make it visible, the great idea or initiative gets wafted into the corner of your computer or mind never seeing the light of day.  Sadly, no matter how great that momentary inspiration was, if it’s not acted on, will have no impact in the world – not for you and not for others.

Part of having a mind at ease is knowing you have place to stow and recall such ideas.  Everybody should have their own personal Innovation PlayGround – that place where ideas live.  And you don’t want that to be invisible.  You want to put you mind at ease then create a visible PlayGround that you can affix ideas to.  If you get an idea, write it on a sticky note and stick in in the PlayGround.  Get an idea related to another idea – great, lump those together.  Funny thing is, if you see these ideas in your PlayGround over and over again, you’re brain will continue to work on them, even when it seems like you’re not.  So if you want to get more stuff done in this world, then unhide your ideas and get them into the PlayGround.  Your brain will thank you and so will those you someday impact.

 


Category : Blog

You are 30 days from a Better You

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

habit practice sheet from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.

Pick it!  It doesn’t really matter, weight loss,  more books read, conversations had, blog posts written, friends contacted, miles biked, states traveled.   No matter what your trying to do more of your brain will react favorably to repetition.  Pretty soon, your newly sought habit will be programmed into your brain like your morning cup of coffee.

It turns out it take about 30 days of repeated activity for you brain to establish a new habit.  So what are you waiting for?  Get going on whatever it is you wish to do.  As a starter you might have a daily PlayBook review to make sure you personal and professional affairs are in order.  Download and print the free 30 day practice sheet to help yourself or somebody you care about.

Your emotional brain likes to be rewarded so at day 15 and day 30 reward yourself for staying on track.  At the end of 30 days, it won’t be so hard to continue.    Click here or the the image to download the PDF.

Category : Blog

About Us

Like you we get ideas. We are all idea people. The Big Idea Toolkit was born out of our recognition that people have ideas but get stuck at all stages of bringing those ideas to life. We hope you find this toolkit and site gives you a nudge, a process to follow, and inspiration to make your ideas a reality. Thank you to our clients who told us - "You guys should make this a product available to others." We are Delightability, LLC and we believe if you Delight Customers - Success will Follow. more..

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If you have questions or need some help please email us or call us at (206) 356-8811