process

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 Q2 Calendar Tool to Make Daily Living a Little Less Argh

Delight Flight Plan Q2 2014 screen shot - Delightability - The Big Idea ToolkitCourse Correcting 2014

Is your 2014 living up to your expectations? To the extent it’s not, is the universe solely to blame? Or, are you complicit in drifting off your own plan, not being clear on your own path forward, or not paying attention to the details that matter?

If you are like most people, you vacillate between a paper reality and the killer application or device that is finally going to get you organized. Maybe you hear yourself saying, “This one will be unlike all of the others!”

Cooked Carrots - The Big Idea ToolkitI don’t mean to take the wind our of your sails, but there are some pretty basic shortcomings to a one size fits all approach to most anything. If you don’t believe me, try eating only one food for a week and see how interesting your outlook and mood become. Maybe you can start with carrots. Carrots for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Maybe you are living the paperless office dream that no human being I know of actually is. Maybe you have it all figured out, your process and technology working seemingly together in your smoothly sailing life. Maybe that is the story you are telling yourself and perhaps it’s true. But, if you are reading this far, then maybe you’ve come up short and are looking for solutions.

Make Top Priority Actions Visible

I use the daily flight plan to keep my top dozen or so actions visible. Sure, I use other tools, both electronic and paper, but this is one I rely on. After sketching Big Pictures on these daily flight plans numerous times, I simply added a Big Picture in miniature form to the latest version. Learn more about the Big Picture in Chapter 12: The Three Psychological Zones in my book, The Experience Design BLUEPRINT.  Learn more about the icons at the top of the daily flight plan by reading the original flight plan blog post at the Delightability blog.

You’ve heard it before that it take 21 days to form a habit. No matter the time, if you don’t have a visible tool or reminder, it will be harder to stay the course. Try the Free Daily Flight Plan for the next 20 days or so. I think you and the universe will be pleasantly surprised. Good luck in your productive and insightful ventures. Please let me know how it goes.

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.

 

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

A Dozen Reasons you Need a Lightweight Business Planning Tool Like the Big Idea Toolkit

hand with sticky notes and the big idea toolkit logoIt doesn’t matter if you are gainfully employed and need to explore the newest path to revenue,  a solo-preneur forging your way in a terrible economy, or a wanna-preneur that’s contemplating starting a business, you need a way to flesh out and communicate ideas and to build a simple plan. I’m not talking about the dusty templates that litter the Internet and application software by the droves. I’m talking about crafting something that lives beyond your bound document, something more dynamic, that connects to customers, a calendar, your livelihood and purpose. For that, you need something like the Big Idea Toolkit. Sure, I’m biased, after all I created the toolkit. But, I did say something “like.” The point is the world moves quickly and you need to as well. I’ll bet on the pony that running the race as opposed to the one in the stable that’s still working up the race plan.

Remember if you don’t continuously innovate in a sea of change, you could get BlockBuster’d out of business.

 

Here are a dozen reasons to use a Lightweight Business Planning Tool like the Big Idea Toolkit

 

    1. You need to quickly convince yourself and others you’re idea is worth following
    2. Your plan will need to evolve once you get started
    3. You need to continue to show visible progress to stay motivated
    4. You need to capture ideas that will come at times inconvenient and from unlikely sources
    5. You’ll want to explore quickly the opportunities that you can reliably act upon
    6. Your applied actions in the marketplace speak louder than your stagnant words buried in a plan
    7. To stay sane, you’ll need a system to balance delivering value, promotion, operations, and a personal life
    8. Opportunities will pass you by if you take too long to act
    9. You’ll need to observe, listen, and learn from customers
    10. If it’s worth doing, you probably need to enroll others
    11. You’ll need to run experiments to test ideas for value
    12. You need a plan that gives the opportunity to build better habits and practice because practice makes perfect, not training
    13. You’ll need to hold yourself accountability or involve somebody else that will

Oops that’s 13.  Oh yeah, and you can’t be superstitious either because black cats need love too and your biases will ultimately limit your opportunity.  Remember technology will not save you and the timing goddess will ultimately decide your fate. If you don’t believe this talk to those that are graduating from college now as opposed to the lucky grads that carved their way ahead of the dot com bubble burst.

Remember the marketplace will punish paralysis by analysis and the big formal unseen plan more than it will the action junkie that has more conversations and creates sustainable customer value sooner. Find a balance and pray for the timing goddess to cast a shining light upon you.

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

Need a Big Picture Starter, try Affinity Mapping

affinity mapping as a start for the Big Picture from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.There is a ton of material on YouTube and other places about affinity mapping so I won’t repeat it all here.  But, it is often a good method to generate ideas as a starting point.  You frame the problem or opportunity in the form of a question.  It is important to stay focused on the question.  Often times if you run out of steam I encourage people to think in multiple dimensions, like people, process, technology.

working through the Big Picture chunky steps from affinity mapping exercise - the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.As an example, I was in a small workshop with a non-profit that was putting together a sponsorship program, something new to the group.  Our “question” that framed the exercise was “What would be involved in having a successful sponsor program.”   Individually, we listed items we could think of, in no particular order.  When we ran out of steam after about 20 minutes we placed them on the wall.  Then we arranged them into groups of similar items.  We then labeled each group.  We then processed the pieces using the Big Picture from the Big Idea Toolkit.

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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