productive

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

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

Daily Flight Plan for Happier Balanced Life - Big Idea Toolkit from Delightability

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Time is Limited

You have less than 3 months until the beginning of the new year. The 4th quarter can be your most productive time if you are prepared. Paying attention to your daily priorities and limiting work in process will help you to focus and get more done. Whether you use the Big Idea Toolkit or not, you can benefit from the free Daily Flight Plan to keep your calendar top of mind along with your daily priorities. Think you have more than 13 priorities each day? Ok, then use two Flight Plans. But, remember if you have too many priorities, then you have no priorities. Don’t confuse a constant state of being busy with actually making progress.

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

 

Links to previous blog posts about the Daily Flight Plan

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

 

You are Better than a Cat, Right?

You can get more stuff done with todays tools, devices, and connections than several of your equivalent selves could get done, even a few years ago. 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, especially entertaining cat videos. I particularly like the cat in the shark suit riding the Roomba. If you use the daily flight plan you’ll be more focused on your work and obligations, but you’ll also be sure to include among your priorities things in your personal life. That’s the point of the little 3 legged stool icon on top to remind you. There is much to do of significance and I hope that you’ll help make it happen. We all know that the cats won’t be doing much, except maybe posing.

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

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

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

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

Visual Real Time Collaborative Project Management Tool


Successful project management is more about good discussions, clear deliverables, and commitment to a common path forward than it is about a piece of software.  History is full of big projects and accomplishments that predated the existence of the software industry.  Turns out that successful project management is about humans, psychology, communications, process, accountability, and many other things that sometimes get substituted with meetings, reports, tiny unreadable schedules, and much finger pointing, blaming and shaming.

Even project management professionals with certifications struggle to make the customer come alive inside the organization they work with and have productive conversations around a common big picture.  If you are a project management pro ask yourself if you’ve ever been on a project that failed.  Chances are, if you’ve been around the block a few times, you have.  Common tools of the trade do little to excite and enroll others.  As it turns out, exciting and enrolling others is much of what successful project managers do.    I like this infographic that project management pro, Olga Sa, created where she indicated that 90% of project management has to do with communications.

Better Project Management using the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.
Not surprisingly, the Big Idea Toolkit can be used to better manage projects.  Here is an infographic of better project management using the Big Idea Toolkit.  Please check it out and if your so inclined we’ve love to hear what tools and methods you use in managing your projects large and small?  Also, how are they working for you?

If you are into Scrum and Agile methods you might like this related post on the For Doers blog: Is your product or service on a path to irrelevance?

 

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

4 Reasons You Don’t Move Forward – and How to Overcome

In spite of inspirational songs like “Live Like Your Were Dying” and movies like “The Bucket List”, most people won’t act until its too late.  They’ll continue to let opportunities pass them by, only to be realized by others.  Truth is, those “others” aren’t any smarter, but they do have better habits.  Here is how to level the playing field and get your fare share of opportunities. Know thyself.  Understand the reason you don’t move forward and then make a choice to either overcome it or accept it.

If you’re going to be a slouch you should at least be an informed intentional slouch.

And if you are a “doer” then perhaps it’s your duty to help somebody else get out of their own way.

As part of my book research, I’ve been asking people from all walks of life now for some time what holds them back from whatever it is their wanting to do.  I’ve heard several different flavors of answers, but they can be summarized by the list of 4 below.  If you really have a reason you believe doesn’t fit to these 4 please chime in.  I’d love to know.

#4 – values or beliefs are not in alignment

You might recognize this as  “I’ve reluctantly signed up to do something” or “You were really good at coercing me but I never really was committed.”  This reason is usually cited when we don’t move forward on somebody else’s idea or initiative.  You simply don’t believe in “the cause” or the value of getting it done.  Reaching the final destination doesn’t resonate with you so much.   Sometimes people want to fantasize about reaching the Utopian end state but they don’t really have any intention of doing any real work or making a contribution.  If you find yourself in this camp saying “work – that is for the others,” or “a person should… “, then some intellectual honesty is in order.  Simply come to grips that you are a fantasy doer or know what you value and stop committing without follow through.

#3 – lack of resources

This oft cited paralyzer is a Red Herring easily spotted by asking yourself or others what resources are needed.  Then systematically break down and eliminate each resource needed – this is an obstacle removal technique.  Many problems can be reframed to requires a different set of resources, those within reach.  Also, there are those resources that you don’t have now and those that you don’t have in the future. Solve today’s problem today and tomorrows problems tomorrow.

#2 – fear or lack of courage

This reason for inaction is more easily understood when the person not moving forward is part of a larger social context.  When you have to rally the herd and get others moving there is a certain risk that goes along with that.  It is much easier to not lead the way, blend into the crowd, and wait for somebody else to take a risk and be responsible.  This is a well researched and documented area of social psychology called the bystander effect. But when others are not involved,  it become squarely about you.  You may have been conditioned to fear failure or you’re in an environment where failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

Failure can actually be a good thing, especially in small doses.  That’s what experiments and prototypes are for!  I worked in the Boeing Wind Tunnel for 5 years. We ran many experiments to detect failure and make improvements at a small scale because the human and financial costs of mistakes at scale are so enormous.

Besides failure, some people also fear the destination of success and all its accoutrements.  To overcome inaction and to combat many of the subconscious and conditioned avoidance behaviors it is good to create new habits.  You can easily do this by adopting a habit practice sheet (free download) and by creating conscious action triggers.   Action triggers can have a profound power to motivate people to do the things they need to do.   The reason, according to Peter Gollwitzer, a New York University psychologist, is that action triggers eliminate the need for conscious deliberation by making people “pre-decide” what they are going to do.  In this they program themselves to protect goals from tempting distractions, bad habits, or competing goals.

an example of the Big Picture from the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.#1 – lack of clarity

By far this is the most popular reason people don’t move forward that I’ve encountered. They simply don’t know how to get started or what the next step is.  They are overwhelmed by the myriad of choices and possibilities.  You can hear them saying to themself, “Where to start, where to start.”  They may be so overwhelmed they are unable to articulate what they want or think they need.  Often, others have trouble helping people in this state – instead they usually prefer to give them time and space to “get it together.”  Creating the Big Picture can go a long way toward unlocking what the brain already knows but is unable to express.  Sequencing your Big Idea into Chunky Steps along a path with a clear vision of the payoff seems so simple… and it is. But have you actually done it? You want to create your next “Aha” moment, give it a whirl.  Better yet, help somebody else do the same.

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