Most people start the day without a plan and end up putting out fires for other people. Those who start the day focused on what matters do not get derailed very easily and end the day strong knowing what worked and what didn’t. Which are you? Which one do you want to be?
I spent my whole career trying to perfect the best way to capture what I need to do in a way I could learn from it. I purchased countless personal organizers and all fell short. So, I created my own to fit my needs. I still update this as life evolves, but this is my ‘final’ draft that I used daily as a SNCO. Keep scrolling for the basics of how I used it.
This was intended as a weekly planner that I updated daily. There were set meetings that I had (as we all do) and they were captured in my Outlook calendar and it was pointless to re-write them down on paper. What I needed was to capture other info…and this was my solution.
Start week: this is the date of the first day of the week.
Roadblocks: What major impediments or time-sucks are on expected this week? This is a great place to capture roadblocks impacting the overall team too. The first role of a leader is to move the obstacles the team encounters.
Who to contact?: Success is all about “who” you surround yourself with. Who can you reach out to this week to better yourself or your team?
Day: Day of the week.
Who/What Stood Out?: If you see something amazing your team did or someone going over and above, write it down. This helps to ensure you recognize them appropriately.
Top 3 Priorities: What are the top 3 things you need to accomplish today? I always started my day working on Priority 1. It was rare that I would even check email until #1 was completed. After 1 was finished, I would engage with the day and work 2 and 3 as I could. I always finished #1 and usually #2. At the end of the day, I would look at tomorrow and create my priority list for the next day. This way you start the day ready to go. Things not accomplished either move to the next day or they go in the parking lot.
These bottom squares help you to reflect on your week and learn from successes and failures.
What Worked Well?: Did you see something your team did that solved a problem? Write it down and figure out if it is repeatable or not.
What Didn’t Work?: This one is just the opposite. What did you do that didn’t go as planned?
Lesson Learned: This block is always a “humbler” for me. When looking at what worked and what didn’t, what is the theme or lesson to take-away?
Resources Discovered: Anyone who goes through the week without hearing about a great new website or book is simply not paying attention. This is a gold mine for future learning!
People to Recognize, Contacts Made, and Notes: These all are pretty self-explanatory.
Plan / Do / Next: This is my system for learning and growing. This is the area I used to capture my long-term vision for the team. I would state my planned goal, what I needed to do to reach it, and then what was next.
Parking Lot: This is a term we use often in the Project Management world. It is basically a place to capture the things you want to do or want to look into further, but they are not a priority at the moment.
Stop Doing List: This is the best block of all. This is where you capture the things that take up time and/or energy from you or the team. You then evaluate them and the impact of no longer doing them…then…you stop doing them.
Download the free planner pages below. I would print them out front and back, use a three-hole punch and place them in a binder. Here is a link to the one I love to use. It looks professional and has lasted six years with no sign of wear and was way cheaper than most other portfolios.