This is part 8 of a series of articles that started here: Daily Done: a sustainable paper-based productivity system.
Yesterday, we talked about enriching your minimal system with additional functional units. Things like: a paper-based calendar or a backlog of tasks, in addition to your usual daily plan pages.
As mentioned, you need to do this cautiously, as managing them will give you more maintenance work to do on your system. But sometimes they are worth it. Let’s see some of the possibilities in this article…
A versatile template
First, let me introduce the printed template I use as a base for each of these new functional units.
Oh, well… it is not new actually, you already know it, here it is:
It might look plain. But in fact, I engineered it carefully.
Let me explain:
First, this template has a date in the top right corner. This date is *crucial* because time is the best way to sort things up. When there’s an old date at the top corner of a page, you know you can archive it, and you know where to archive it (on which day, month, year).
It’s nice to have lines in gray color on your template. This way, you can draw on top of existing lines to adapt it to your needs. This is what we are going to do to get different variations of this template.
There are 32 lines, which make 31 intervals. This number is optimal. It will enable you to create monthly templates very easily. And it goes well with other templates as well.
The daily template
Let’s start with the daily template. If you read the previous parts of this series, you know it already, but here it is:
The 2 upper zones are for Today’s tasks and Upcoming Tasks, while the part below is where you will draw your schedule of the day (the Daily Plan). Also, we have a margin on the right in case we need to add some legends for the time blocks you drew on the Daily Plan. Head over to the part of the series talking about the Daily Plan to learn more about it.
The weekly calendar template
This one will help you anticipate what you are going to do the next week. It simply involves drawing seven zones in which you will write the tasks and meetings associated with these days:
If these seven zones are too small, just draw these zones over two pages instead of one.
The monthly calendar template
This one involves drawing a calendar for your month. As there are 31 intervals in this sheet of paper, it will be optimal for every month of the year. Here’s the result:
Note that I like to draw lines to separate the weeks. Also, you can add your bank holidays in advance. I also like to use this one to have a clear picture of when I take leaves from my work.
The action plan template
This one, I like to use it for events that need to be prepared a long time in advance. Let’s say you must plan a wedding, or you want to relocate. Then, there are probably going to be some specific tasks you will need to plan for each week leading to the event. This is where the “action plan” template shines. It involves drawing large intervals, one for each week:
Try to keep some free space, as you will probably edit your plan thoroughly as you go. In case of too many heavy edits, you can simply recreate the pages.
The list template
Lastly, the plain template can sometimes be used as-is to write lists:
For example, you can write a checklist on this template, or a quick shopping list.
Of you might want to write a large list of tasks. For example, this is handy to manage a paper-based backlog of tasks for a project. However, be careful with that one as creating a large backlog of tasks can quickly become unmanageable. One solution is to use a digital version instead.
As you can see, the plain template is incredibly versatile: you can easily derive other templates from it: a daily template, a weekly template, a monthly template, an action plan template or a list template.
It is very so convenient. You just need to print a big stack of plain templates. Then you adapt them to your needs of the moment.