Let’s start planning
Congrats on getting so far into the training! You now have collected some data so you can start taking control over your time usage.
Think what’s the one thing that you would like to accomplish to feel that this evening was not wasted?
For example: “I’ll spend 1 hour learning Spanish” is not as good as “I’ll finish the first chapter of the Spanish course and score at least 70% in the self-assessment test” is way better. That’s because you may spend an hour staring into the book thinking about something else. You will realize your plan but you’ll not achieve anything.
There’s a possibility that you’ll honestly try to accomplish the objective but find out that it actually requires much more than 1 hour. It will be a success too. Because you’ll practice your time estimation skills. Next time you’ll estimate better and look for ways to execute your plan more efficiently.
Also “The one thing” will evolve over time as you accomplish goals and gain confidence in your capabilities. So you don’t need to make the very best decision now. But make a decision.
It’s more about the act of planning than the plan itself
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless,
but planning is indispensable.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The act of planning is a process of conscious management of your resources, particularly time and energy.
That’s why Goalist is a “stacking” plan where you can’t set the start times of tasks directly. You have to work with real 24 hours. You divide them into into blocks of time represented by Tasks. Then you see that if you want to do more of one thing you need to do less of another thing. You need to choose.
A traditional to-do list lets you schedule even 20 tasks, 2 hours each for one evening. That’s impossible to execute. Even if you don’t schedule all 20 directly you may end up with that amount – because of direct scheduling and postponing of other tasks during the week.
The act of planning in Goalist forces you to choose the most important things to do that day. You surely have a ton of important things. But only when you see your limited resources are you forced to choose the MOST important of them.
Of course life happens and your initial plan will often change, at least slightly. And that’s OK. The important thing is to keep your priority in mind and be flexible.
So in Goalist a lot of effort was put into making the plan highly flexible, eg:
- When you change the duration of a task the subsequent tasks are moved and their notifications are rescheduled automatically.
- If you have the Day Plan Auto Adjustments module turned on and your list is full, Goalist will make room for lengthening one task automatically shrinking other tasks. You can block this behavior for selected tasks with Fixed Duration and Fixed Start options.
The act of planning also improves your flexibility
The act of planning helps you react to unexpected events faster and better. It helps you stay truly flexible and create more effective “plans B” in a more efficient way.
That’s because you can make important decisions ahead. That is – during planning, when you have time to think. Otherwise you often need to make them when you have much less time to think and feel the pressure of a situation. The urgent things usually win in such situations – instead of the important ones!
At least at the beginning do not worry about pushing tasks up or down the list. So that the plan does not feel like a trap or an obligation. Let it be a flexible way that helps you – not forces you – to get things done. Over time you’ll need fewer and fewer changes because you’ll learn:
- to better estimate how much time you really need to carry out various tasks
- what your priorities are
How to approach your first planning
The only data you have so far comes from the time tracking. So for now the idea is:
- First analyze the data collected. Find the biggest time wasters. Remember: everything may seem important, you need to identify the least important here.
- Decide what can be shortened or eliminated to make room for the one thing you want to accomplish today. What can be done a bit differently to save time? What can be simplified? Where does good enough suffice?
- Create a plan for tomorrow’s afternoon. You create the plan in the exact same way as you were tracking your time. You just do it in advance for the next day. Just remember to put the most important tasks at the beginning and the least important at the end.
In the next lesson we’ll show you tools that make the planning process much easier and faster than adding each task one by one. But for today it’s good enough.
Care about your limited resources
Research shows that our mental energy and strong will are limited resources and deplete quickly. You need to manage them.
What seems like laziness is often exhaustion. I.e.: strong will and mental energy depleted. That’s why you need to look for the best order of tasks.
What seems like procrastination is often confusion about what you should do. That’s why you need planning and an initial plan. And a flexible tool that will guide you through it and collect data in the process that will feed your future decisions.
You’ve collected some data tracking your time so can analyze statistics now:
You can view statistics in two places.
The first one is the Day Plan screen under the list of tasks. It displays data only for this day.
The second place is the Statistics screen. It displays the same data but lets you choose an arbitrary period of time.
Stats may be generated by Task, Tag, Value, Goal, Task group or Category. That way you can look at your data from various angles.
Using the second parameter you can decide whether you’d like to view your data in proportion to 24 hours. When it’s on the system displays in gray color “Time without plan”. That is: the time for which you haven’t added any task. Or it displays “Other” if you choose Value, Goal or Task Group as the basis. “Other” here means: time without plan PLUS time when non-valuable tasks were scheduled. When you generate stats by Task Group the “Other” means: time without plan PLUS time when non-valuable tasks were scheduled PLUS time when tasks belonging to no Task Group were scheduled.
If you disable this option you’ll be able to compare the proportions of everything that WAS scheduled. That is – everything else is excluded from the display. For instance now I see that I’ve spent only a tiny percentage of my time on valuable stuff. And when I untick “In proportion to 24 hours” I can see that in case of the valuable stuff I focused primarily on “Healthy Body” and a little bit on the “Time” Value. In the previous view it was too small to be visible.
Let’s switch to “Stats by Task” again and scroll down. The same data is displayed below the Pie Chart in a table.
The Time column displays the total duration of this task during the selected period of time and how many percent of the whole it is. The blue line below the name depicts the same data in proportion to the remaining elements. The “x” column shows repetitions – how many times this task was scheduled during this period.
Identify tasks that took up the biggest amount of time. Try to think if you can perform any of them faster in the future.
You can gain the most if you shorten long tasks. For instance here if I slept just 15 minutes shorter each day during this period I would gain 2 hours (8 * 15m = 2h).
But I could also gain a lot of time if I shortened just slightly a task that I perform often. That’s because the time difference would multiply. For instance “Checking emails” could be such task as it appeared 48 times. Shortening each of its occurrences by 5 minutes would save me 4 hours in total (48 * 5m = 240m = 4h).
Another approach that could help me save time on this particular task could be to do it only once or twice a day instead of so many times. That’s because there is always some time needed to start and finish the task. And some time and mental energy is always used for switching between tasks (context switching).
When you choose the one most important thing you want to focus on as discussed in the intro to the lesson, you may want to move the related task to the “Values & Goals” category. You already know from the previous lesson how to create a Value. And here’s how to create a Goal, move the task to it and set up monitoring:
Creating and editing Goals
Goals can be created inside Values. A Goal is like a folder which can contain Tasks, Task Groups and a Monitor. To create a Goal enter the Value (tap it) and use the plus button or Menu > New goal.
You may also look at a Goal as an element of a checklist created to control a Value. For instance: you value Healthy Body. And you can tell from your experience that one of the things you need to do to keep your body healthy is to do various sports.
So you say: “Because I value Healthy Body I have to make sure that I do sports” (type in: “I do sports”, tap OK).
In another video I’ll show you how to create a monitor for this Goal that will display green state when you do enough sports and red state when you don’t.
The color of this Goal is gray because it has no monitor yet. It will turn red or green when you define a monitor. Then this list of goals will look like a checklist. And you will be able to say that you’re doing your best when all the checklist elements are green.
Every time you discover something else is needed too, you just add it to the checklist. Over time you create a valuable asset – based on observation and data, with monitoring limits tuned to your unique body.
For instance, another checklist item may be “I drink enough water”. Click +, enter: “I drink enough water”, OK. Go back and your checklist has 2 elements.
What “enough” means will change and evolve over time as you observe yourself and tune the system. That’s why we didn’t add specifics in the goal name, like: “I drink at least 8 glasses of water every day”. You will see over time how many glasses your body really needs and will be able to tune the monitor without editing the goal name.
To edit a Goal click it, then click its name. To delete a Goal use Menu > Delete or go back to the list of goals, long-press a goal and choose Delete.
Creating a Goal Monitor
In the previous video I said that the list of Goals is like a Checklist. Checklist elements are marked as red or green by Monitors. To create a Monitor click the Goal, then click the graph image.
The easiest monitor to define is one that monitors all its tasks. Initially you assume that you need to do at least 3 sessions of sports and each one should last at least 30 minutes. So: the Success is when over the last 7 days there are at least 3 records, each during at least 30 minutes. Click OK to save the Monitor.
There are no tasks in this Goal so the monitor’s state is failed. Let’s say you jogged several times recently and tracked your time throughout the last week. But you created the “Jogging” task in the “Unassigned” category. Now you can move it to this Goal. Go to Categories > Unassigned, find the “Jogging” task, long-press it, choose Move or Edit. I choose Edit to also show you something else.
At the top of the screen there is a Path. When you click it you can see this task is in the Unassigned category. Now use Menu > Move. Choose Values & Goals > Healthy Body > I do sports and click Move. You can see in the Path that it now belongs to this Goal which belongs to this Value. Click the Goal to check the monitor again. The system now found Jogging in your schedules and calculated that you have achieved your desired state.
Click Path and Value. You can see that the first Goal is now green here too. In other words the first checklist element is checked.
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(This post is part of Goalist Training)