3 Low-Tech Planning Tools That Will Never Go Out of Style
Without argument, embracing technology is important for survival as a solopreneur. But there are a few low-tech tools that I can never see myself doing without. For a clearer vision of what’s on your plate – and what’s ahead, I recommend these to you:
1. A whiteboard – There are all sorts of project software out there to capture processes, but a whiteboard can’t be beatfor keeping major current – and future – projects top of mind. Mine is basically a mind map that shows (at a high level) the stuff that I need to pay attention to and keep tabs on. Organize the content into categories so you can easily see the things that need to be done on an ongoing basis vs. projects that have definitive beginnings and endings. For example:
- Weekly Tasks/Responsibilities
- Monthly/Quarterly Projects
- In Progress Client Projects
- Prospective Projects
- Volunteer Projects
Don’t include too much detail on your whiteboard. The cleaner and uncluttered it is, the better it will serve you. Its purpose is to keep you on track by showing you the big picture rather than to do a deep dive into the minutia of what’s involved in your projects.
2. A desk pad calendar – I love my online Google calendar and the ability to tap into it via my smartphone. But, I also
rely on the visual and tactical reinforcement of a desk pad calendar. It’s a planning and organizing life line. With a desk pad calendar, you can see the entire month in grand scale – and get a feel for where you’ll be most strapped for time. Seeing your schedule at a glance, all laid out in front of you, will help you mentally prepare for what’s ahead.
I choose to use one that has large “to do”, “appointment”, and “important” sections where the most critical stuff jumps right out at me. You know…important things like “Write a check for my estimated income tax quarterly payment”. The IRS appreciates me staying on top of that!
3. A rolling to-do list – Don’t discount the effectiveness of a good old-fashioned pen on paper list for managing your
- tasks du jour. Physically writing out tasks and later manually checking them off a list brings a tangible sense of accomplishment. Use your whiteboard, desk pad calendar and electronic planning and management tools to fuel your to-do list.
My to-do list is a rolling to-do – and I expect that yours will be, too. Rare is the occasion when I manage to check off everything on my list, so tasks not yet accomplished roll over to the next day’s to-dos and become top priority there.
Be warned: Rolling to-do lists can be your best friend AND your worst enemy. When you can’t tackle everything you had hoped to in a given day, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, applaud yourself for having a handle on your responsibilities. You might be running behind, but at least you won’t be letting anything fall through the cracks.
Are you using any low-tech tools to plan and manage your work and time? What are they and how do they help you?