Pens down? No pens up! I am going back to writing stuff down. 


After engaging with “digital things” for a decade I have come to a realisation. I have to go back to writing things down. 

As a geek, this horrifies me. As a realist it has become a necessity. I use Apple Mail, Apple Notes, Evernote, ToDoist and Harvest to organise and record my work and personal life. And they’re great. And I am fine at taking notes using the keyboard on the Macs or iPad. And I can walk around the house and shout, Alexa or Hey Siri, new To Do or New Appointment and things end up on my ‘ecosystem’. And I like using them. And it is cool. And it is everywhere. And they sync. And, and, and….

But they’re hidden away when the apps are closed. And if I don’t see them, there’s a chance I will forget them and “to do stuff”. So for keeping an eye on my priorities and to dos, time planning and record keeping – the really important stuff – I am going back to paper and will keep it simple. I am going to put the papers on the cork board next to my desk at home or in the Moleskine when I am at large.  And they will change every week.

To help me keep on eye on what’s important; to keep me to program and, to keep a record of everything, I have developed three bits of paper. Here’s what I have come up with.

3 x 3

So each week, on a Friday or Saturday afternoon, I will have a planning meeting with myself for the following week. It will probably take an hour or two. It allows me to finish the week and get cracking on Monday.

There’s three columns and my thinking is… starting Monday… in the next three days I have to do the following ten things. In the following three weeks, I have to get these ten things done (so I need to start thinking about or actioning them). In the following three months, I have to get these ten big things done or achieve these things. This system just allows me to keep an eye on the agenda so I can do things, start planning for things and start thinking about things. Eventually, things will move right to left.

For example, in next three days, well, that’s simple – call David, write a press release and do this week’s Hootsuite schedule. But in the next three weeks, I might put “organise Sydney visit” or “prepare conference paper”, so I start thinking about it and booking appointments or getting research. Three months could be, maintain exercise 5/7 days, maintain 80 per cent average at Uni or increase billable hours from 25 a week to 32 a week. Whatever works for you.

170129 3X3 templateTime planning

This is what it appears. It just breaks the day up into four two hour slots so I can plot projects or activities for these times. I allow myself to work over six days to get my hours done but, importantly, Sunday is a work free day. Some weeks, are short, some weeks are long. I work around family and interests. I have also listed exercise times to remind myself to do these the activities.  My larger breaks are built around listening to the main news and current affairs programs on the radio so I keep in touch with the outside world. When I work, there’s no ABC, BBC or podcasts, it is purely music (mainly classical).

170127 Time planning template


This too is what it appears. The “Business thoughts” section is for new business development ideas or those thoughts you have which are worth writing down. The “Life thoughts” are similar but in more general about life. I am talking about the things that land in your head at unexpected times. Write them down! And the checklist is to make sure I do the import stuff, like wishing people happy birthday.

170129 Daily RegisterRecord keeping

I am keeping these three pages each week by scanning them and storing them in Evernote so I have permanent record of everything. You can either photograph the papers or get a single sheet document scanner. I have a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i. It is brilliant. It allows me to be paperless. Should I get paper, I will generally scan it and then shred it. Brother has a similar model. If you shop around online, you will find them for a third less than RRP.




Evernote and ToDoist?

See my previous post.

My templates

Here they are on DropBox.

Do you have any templates or tips? Please share!

Updated: 13 January 2017