Archives For Productivity

Foundations of Personal Growth: Routines

February 12, 2013

First two posts in this series discussed Focus and Critical Thinking. The premise is that personal growth must be intentional. Establishing routines are a great way to ensure personal growth and goal completion.

One of my favorite blogs wrote an extensive post on the importance of bookending your day with morning and evening routines. Brett McKay explains the benefits and the how to of establishing routines. One of the best reasons is to fight decision fatigue. We are bombarded with distractions in this digital age we live in. Routines are the best way to ensure you stay on track with what we want and need to accomplish

What’s the difference between Routines and Habits?


‘Tis the Season to Set Your Goals

November 28, 2011

‘Tis the time of year to look at goals, life plan and resetting of priorities. I frame my goals for the year & place them on my night stand. When I started this exercise 10 years ago & at the end of the year I’d feel dejected from my lack of progress. Not realizing I should celebrate the small gains and I was developing a discipline that would change my life. I’m much better at setting goals and even better about creating plans to achieve those goals. This year I achieve 4 out of 5 of my big hairy audacious goals.  I’m celebrating all accomplishments!

One of the tools I began using 2 years ago was Michael Hyatt’s Life plan.

Here’s the process I use to plan the upcoming year based on my priorities.

Review priorities

I have 5 of these, but you can have as many as you choose. Mine include God, Health, Finances, Relationships, and Career.

Set goals

For each priority I have a vision statement that rarely changes from year to year. From this I look at what I accomplished the previous year and move over what I didn’t accomplish from that year.  Then I add to those.

Research what it takes to achieve those goals

This is a key activity.  I read a lot of books and talk to friends who are successful in those areas.

Re-evaluate goals

At the end you need to assess the price you are willing to pay to achieve your goals. If you have two high price goals, do they fit and is it realistic to achieve both.  Here you add or delete goals.

Finalize  goals

I type up and frame the top 5 or 6 goals. This frame sits in my bedroom where I can see it every day. This way if I ever wake up and think “I’ve got nothing to do today” those are screaming at me.

Plan, plan and plan

This is the “how” in achieving your goals.  From the research and goal setting, it’s time to sit down with a calendar and start laying down a plan.  If you’re goal is to “lose 30 pounds” then write down the days you are going to work out, what you are going to do and meal planning activities.  Or maybe you intend to sign up for a few 5k races next year: pick them out, write down the sign up dates and race dates.   Do this for every goal.

Begin to execute

Once you have the plan, begin to execute it. I don’t believe you have to wait until New Year’s day.  Get a jump on it now and begin.

The entire exercise takes me 15- 20 hours. It’s well worth it. I review it monthly to see if I need to make changes.  And I make time to celebrate any accomplishment.  If you do need to make changes, do that instead of abandoning the goal. One year I said I was going to climb Mt. Rainier. It’ changed several times due to money & time. I settled on Mt Si, which is an arduous hike that doesn’t need a permit to complete.

How do you achieve your goals?

Going Green with Time Management

April 18, 2011

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to stop using my Franklin Planner and go digital by the end of the year.  Amazingly enough, I was able to go digitial by the end of 1st quarter.  The first week of April, I traveled without my planner.  While I thought I would feel like Linus without his blanket, I didn’t miss it.   It is because most of the apps I use with my MacBook Pro have corresponding iPhone apps.  Here are the tools I’m using to manage my time and stay organized.

Google calendar

The major issue I had with going green is color coding.   With my Franklin Planner the different pen colors had a meaning.  In 1995 someone bought me a Palm Pilot and it’s bland green/black screen turned me off.  With Google Calendar you can create lots of calendars on the same calendar.

Create calendars for the major categories of events you schedule. Mine are

  • Personal
  • Tasks
  • Alaska Airlines (my job)
  • Writing
  • Working Out
  • US Holidays – pre created by Google. I select to show it.


I use Evernote tool for taking random notes. I no longer have to search through dates and try to remember what date I took notes on.  Once I bought a Mac, I downloaded the free desktop version.

The iPhone app will synch to your computer version.  I’m currently using the free version. You can upgrade to a paid version if you find you need more space. Randy Elrod’s daughter, Lauren, recently posted on his site the Top 5 Uses for Evernote.

I still carry a digital voice recorder in my purse to capture quick notes when I’m driving.


Things is software for Mac that allows you to create sto-do list that will synch with your iPhone app of the same name.  This is not free software nor is it a free app.  Although Evernote allows you to create to-do list, I find having a dedicated app for it helps me stay focused on my daily to-do.

What’s left for me to be completely green?  I’m looking into purchasing a scanner to rid myself of needing to carry some documents and scan receipts. I’m open to any product suggestions for going green.

What applications/software do you use to manage your time and to stay organized?

Time Management Tools

February 23, 2011

Time Management Part 3

Many people start with the tool, but I believe the tool should be an extension of your habit of managing your time. It should not be a starting point.  Even if you have a tool you love, it’s always good to periodically look at new tools since technology is always evolving. I’m still using a FranklinCovey planner and this year I’m transitioning to an electronic planner. My iPhone fits in my purse and it’s always with me. My planner is not. I’m going through the pains of forming new habits and breaking old ones.

Start Cheap

Don’t buy anything fancy. Use the free note app on your smartphone to make notes regarding appointments and tasks. Use the calendar as well.   I use Evernote, which is a free app on the iPhone. They also have a desktop version.

If you don’t have a smartphone, you can buy a cheap Mead notebook or calendar. I had a college professor that used Hallmark’s free calendar as a planner. It fit perfectly in his shirt pockets. Yeah, he had tiny writing.

Graduate to something more sophisticated

You can stay cheap and download some free apps.  Or you can buy a planner that suits your needs. I’ve been in a FranklinCovey Planner for about 10 years, before that I was into Day Runner (it fit my budget better).  Before Day Runner, during the college years, I used At-A-Glace planner (weekly) you can get at any college bookstore or office supply store. For 18 years regardless of the brand, I always viewed a week at a time. 2 years ago, my life got so full that I switched to Franklin’s daily pages inserts. That was a huge adjustment.

And now online calendars or other apps have color-coding; that lack of using different colors is what prevented me from using an electronic planner years ago.

If time management is not your forte do not spend any money until you have developed habits discussed in part 1 and part 2.

Some Cool Tools


  • At A Glance – got me through college (grad and undergrad)
  • Day Runner
  • FranklinCovey Planner
  • FranklinCovey Apps – for iPhone

What tools do you use to manage your time?