motivation

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

Free 2014 Calendar Update for PlayBook

2014 Calendar Screen Shot - click image to download full PDFIf you purchased a Big Idea Toolkit or PlayBook calendar in the past, by now you should have received an updated calendar in your email. In case you did not (we did receive a few bounced emails), you may access it here or click on the calendar image.

If you never purchased a Big Idea Toolkit or PlayBook calendar, but simply would like a 2014 calendar, you are in luck.  You are welcome to download the free calendar. Should you need a larger format version that works with sticky notes, then purchase the PlayBook. If you want to get more clear on what goes into the PlayBook, then purchase the Big Picture.  The Big Idea Toolkit contains these and other visual planning tools, too.

The Big Idea Toolkit helps us to navigate across the 3 psychological zones that we operate in, but are often unaware. To learn more about that read Chapter 12: the Three Psychological Zones in The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations.

Another free resource you might find useful is the Delight Flight Plan. Learn more about that here. We hope you are having a fun and productive 2014.

Category : Blog

Establish Bookends to Convince Yourself and Others Your Idea is Worth Pursuing

monkey bookendHighways, buildings, parks, and people work best when there are boundaries involved. After all, you really don’t want somebody driving in your lane, right? When it comes to ideas it isn’t any different; boundaries are useful. Creativity loves constraint.  With a boundary, a challenge becomes more clear. Without it, you will wander around the fuzzy idea for as much time as you allow. The only progress you’ll make is to ideate and fritter away the time, but you won’t actually accomplish anything.

When you are ready to advance an idea for yourself or your team, using the Big Picture from the Big Idea Toolkit can help. The simple visual communication tool forces you to get clear on your idea – both to yourself but, also to others. Simply stating your idea, clearly and concisely creates a solid boundary, a container for your idea. My idea is “this thing here” as opposed to all of these other things. This boundary for your idea establishes the first bookend. Then, be honest with yourself and others and state why the idea matters. Why should it be pursued? Why should any of us care? On the Big Picture visual tool, that’s represented as the payoff. Together the bound idea and the payoff form the bookends. Make the bookends interesting, otherwise you’ll get no support and everything will fall down.

In a group, its important to get clarity and buy-in on the bookends, so your idea can take flight. If you don’t get agreement early on, you certainly won’t get it later when you’re busy executing on all of the details.  Learn more about the Big Picture – see the video on YouTube.

Category : Blog

A Sticky Note Calendar to Feel More in Control of Your Personal and Work Life

the PlayBook wall saver edition from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability LLCThe PlayBook from the Big Idea Toolkit is the place to make work visible and feel in control of your personal and work life. The PlayBook calendar reveals more than a list of dates and events. Sure, you can see the current date, week number, quarter and year on this annual wall planner. But, the PlayBook also tells a story of where you are going and what you have to accomplish to get there.  Best of all, you can use ordinary sticky notes to configure your PlayBook calendar to organize yourself or your team around activities, tasks, and deliverables due by projects, customer, or week number. Simply write a task on a sticky note and affix it to the PlayBook in the week number that it’s DUE. Now you can take step-by-step requirements and calendarize them for execution. The 20 x 30 inch wall saver PlayBook is included with the Big Idea Toolkit.  For those that are sporting more wall space and want to build a bigger plan there is the larger format edition of the PlayBook, 24 x 44 inches, sold separately.

Move beyond your ordinary wall planner. Get the PlayBook calendar and go from “to-do” to “done.”

Category : Blog

When your ‘What if…’ is worth pursuing

Wouldn’t it be cool if …

 

cars with false securityI ask that “What if…” question often. Most people have and do ask that question or some variation of it. Most don’t do anything about it, but those we label entrepreneurs are the doers with courage enough to set themselves apart from the herd of dreamers.

I’m an entrepreneur. In my last software business, I was the first investor. I spent $25,000 of my hard earned after tax dollars. I did this so that an adviser and another strategic investor would feel comfortable investing too. They didn’t ask to see the roadmap or seek to see the Big Picture. They simply sought comfort much like a tailgater in a long line of cars in stormy weather. It wasn’t any safer but the co-investment had the illusion of security.

Prior to that I was an intrapreneur. I worked for a company that spent in excess of $1,000,000 developing a product that we later found out was promised to the customer at a price below the company’s cost. Once that little fact was revealed the project was shut down and the executive responsible, ushered to the door. But, before our project was permanently put on hold, many of us had been feverishly working on the hardware, software, and industrial design, crafting what we thought was going to be a new reality for our customer and for our company.

In both of these scenarios the conversation should have been very different, but it wasn’t. It turns out the tools to have a better conversation weren’t that great at the time.

More PowerPoints and more spreadsheets and drinking from the same Kool-Aid didn’t produce a better truth or a better outcome.

I fear that the more hyperconnected we become, with faster, better, now, it seems that we get further from the underlying need to have a great conversation. Perhaps, we don’t want to know the truth; we rather like illusion.

One great use of the Big Idea Toolkit is to fully explore and communicate the Big Idea. Remember, if your big idea can’t be proved out using the Big Idea Toolkit and sticky notes, then it won’t prove out with real customers either. It might be that you spend $249.95 on visual communications tools like the Big Idea Toolkit but, ultimately you save much more than that and much heartache and time along the way.

I’ve advised many executives and entrepreneurs and the ones that make a bigger impact are the ones that slow down, in order to speed up.

If after purchasing the Big idea Toolkit, you need some facilitation or coaching, please let me know. If I don’t have time available, I’ll at least recommend another coach.  Good luck entrepreneurs and doers!

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

Business as Unusual: If you Want a Different Outcome, then you Need to Do Something Different

Do you have a place to capture  ideas and free your mind?

Do you have a “system” to move things forward?

Do you have a way to get organized and break projects down into manageable pieces?

sticky note - get more organized from he Big Idea Toolkit, Delightability, LLC.If you answered yes to these questions, great.  But, most people employ tools and tactics, like faith, scratch paper, random sticky notes, whiteboards, and a various paper and electronic calendars.

Some people even reduce the amount of things they do, striking a balance between what they can remember and what they feel they can get done.   That’s all well and good until you need or want to do more at work or at home.  You don’t want to be that person that says the all too common excuse, “But I don’t have time.”   We all suffer from time poverty but, some people get more done, while others let time and opportunity pass them by.

If you want to be highly productive, then you’ll need a new approach to getting organized and getting things done.

With more time you could plan a party, write a book, get a new job, make a career change, relocate or move, get involved in the community, solve a nagging problem, invent something, remodel your office or home, start a business, start a blog, learn a language, spend more time with family, write a program, plan a major vacation, run for office, write an initiative, host an event, relax,  master a new sport, supercharge a non-profit, volunteer, make and then do your bucket list.

But nobody can give you more time.  You’re still stuck with 24 hours each day, so to free up time for important things, you’ll need to better utilize the time you have every single day.

That’s why we created the Big Idea Toolkit, so you can get more important stuff done, whether that is for you, your family, at work or in your community.  If you want different outcomes and you want to be a highly productive “doer” then you need a new approach.

Watch the introductory video for the Big Idea Toolkit.  Questions? Please comment or contact us.

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

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..

Support

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