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Business Management



Digital Planning vs Paper Planning


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Who thought it could be so hard to plan your day and get things done? As business owners we are constantly pulled in multiple directions—planning out new projects, working with clients, and marketing our business.

When it comes to figuring out how you’re going to do all of this we tend to go into a tailspin. We’re constantly bombarded with ads for online software like Asana, Trello, Clickup, and Monday. Don’t even get me started on all of the paper planners out there.

So when you get down to it, what is the best way to plan out your day and get things done?

In short, paper planners for daily tasks and digital systems for everything else.

The difference between planning on paper vs digitally

Take a second and go look at your to-do list. Go through all of the client projects and internal business projects you’ve got going on and do a quick count of how many tasks there are.

I’m going to venture a guess and say you took one look at those lists and knew it was going to be a ridiculous number. And there’s a reason for that. Those tasks are a part of a bigger project. When you look at your to do list it doesn’t always click that those aren’t tasks that need to be done right now. They’re tasks that you’re going to complete over a period of time, but somehow in your mind, you see that to do list and feel like they have to get done right now. So how do you shift that habit? Here’s how to break the idea that everything is urgent.

Take those tasks out of the digital world and put them on paper.

I’m not saying that you need to stop using a digital system, actually the opposite. You need to have both.

Your digital system is where you lay out all of the tasks that need to be completed within a project.

Your paper planner is where you write down what needs to be accomplished today.

Why paper planning is more effective for your daily to dos

When you use a paper planner you’re allowing yourself to focus only on what is happening today.

You’re freeing yourself up to focus only on what you need to do today, not tomorrow and definitely not 3 weeks from Tuesday.

I use a simple 2-step system each day to make sure that I’m focusing only on what needs to be done today, and I dive into the steps in this post about the key to a productive day.

Step 1:

Start off the day by going through all of the places you store your tasks, Asana, your inbox, Slack, Voxer, those random sticky notes you swore you’d stop using when you got Asana. From here you’re looking at what is due or needs to be worked on today.

Step 2:

Pick the top 3 things you need to work on and focus only on getting those completed. After that you can start looking at the rest of your list. If you want to dive deeper into this topic, check out this post on the key to a productive day.

By following this easy 2-step system you’re going to feel more productive since you’re no longer using your master to do list to determine what you’re working on that day. You’re letting yourself focus on what needs to be done today and nothing else.

When to use a digital system like Asana

Digital systems aren’t bad, let me say that first. I’m 110% team digital systems, I mean that’s literally the first thing I setup with my OBM clients. So don’t get me wrong, I love digital systems, but there’s a time and a place for them.

The greatest thing I can say about using a digital system is that you’re able to access it from anywhere. You don’t have to carry a notebook and pen wherever you go, you can simply use the app on your phone. Plus with a digital system, you can set deadlines and get notifications as the deadline gets closer.

So when is the best time to use a digital system? As soon as possible. Once you’ve decided on the system you’ll be using (I use Asana), I recommend moving everything you have for projects, clients and more into your new system.

You’ll now be using Asana to hold everything that you’re doing in your business, tracking projects, editorial calendars, client work, etc. This is really important especially if you have a team, because now everyone will be on the same page and can be assigned tasks as needed.

New to Asana? Check out this post about using the My Tasks feature to help you see what tasks need to be added to your paper planner.

How to use a paper and digital system together

Now that we’ve covered why to use paper for your daily tasks and when to go digital, it’s time to dive into how you can use them together.

At the beginning of your day, you’re going to go through Asana, your inbox, Voxer, Slack and any other place you’ve got tasks and you’re going to write down the tasks that need to get done today in your paper planner. For the rest of the day, you’re going to use your paper planner to determine what tasks you need to work on.

If at the end of the day you don’t finish a task, you can then decide what happens next.

  1. Does that task need to be pushed to another day that week?
  2. Can you reschedule (and put back in Asana)?
  3. Can it be delegated to a team member?
  4. Does it need to be done at all and be completely removed from your to-do list?

Wrapping it up

Now that you understand why it’s essential to use both a paper and digital system for planning your day, here’s the paper planner that I’d recommend using to plan your day.

I started using the Full Focus Planner at the start of 2020 because I was looking for a physical planner that was setup the way I think. That included having a separate space for my top 3 tasks, plenty of space for me to write all other tasks, and an hourly breakdown of the day. An added bonus was that next to each daily page is a whole lined page just for notes or to write more tasks down.

If you want to try the Full Focus Planner out and get $10 off, click here to grab it!

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