If you had a magic wand like Harry Potter and just waved it over your planner, wouldn’t it be great if.. like -POOF- your schedule became lighter and you felt less overwhelmed? Guess what, there is…kind of!
Welcome back! This is the second post in a series of three on mindful planning.
In the first post, I wrote about how most planning systems get it dead wrong when it comes to how they rank tasks. Most instruct users to rank tasks according to importance and urgency.
I also demonstrated how urgency and importance are limited and lead to task stacking and ultimately over-scheduling.
The chief limitation of most planning systems on the market today is that they actually lead to over-scheduling. That’s what I call mindless planning.
Mindful v. Mind-less planning: it’s your choice
No one wants to feel stressed when they open their planner and see chaos unfolding before them. It’s not the best way to start one’s day.
Over-scheduling is the result mindless planning; it’s planning without determining what’s best for YOU, the one person you need to consider most.
And yet, many planning systems lead their users to the very precipice of frustration and abandonment by having them rank their tasks by urgency alone. They follow the directions and only then realize that they’re still over-scheduled and still feel overwhelmed.
In my experience coaching in others hundreds of students in this area, that’s when they become so disillusioned with their planner that they trash the whole system and go back to a to-do list – which is the work thing ever, by the way. 👿
I want to give you a choice. It’s called mindful planning and it doesn’t lead to over-scheduling.
As you read the rest of the post, keep in mind that when I use the word task, it can incorporate appointments, priorities, events, etc. As you learned when you downloaded The Zen-Journal Sutra (the free set-up guide), this system recommends the use of your digital device/smartphone for appointments and reminders.
If your schedule is as fluid as mine, it just makes sense and it’s more efficient than tracking your calendar by pen and paper.
What’s the one change you can make to prevent over-scheduling?
Ranking your tasks by relevancy, instead of urgency or importance, will change how you schedule and plan.
Let’s talk about what task relevance is and how it creates a more mindful approach to planning and scheduling.
Why is relevancy so critical?
Task relevancy is a key term in the Zen-Journal system as it’s meant to include only those tasks that are most relevant to your life on any given day.
When tasks lose their relevance, they are eliminated from further attention. This results in only the most relevant tasks being assigned to a specific date.
One of the questions I’ve received from readers and users of the Zen-Journal system is, “Why there isn’t a monthly or weekly calendar?” The reason I didn’t include this in the system is that of relevance.
Whenever I used Bullet Journal TM and created a monthly spread in my notebook planner, I soon realized that it was the dates on the page that was most relevant. Sure, they might have contained tasks, event, or a deadline, but there simply a notation on the calendar.
I realized it was the task was what is most relevant, not the date to which it was assigned.
In the first post in this series, I stated that getting too granular too early in the life-span of the task is a problem when using monthly spreads or calendar grids for scheduling tasks.
By designating the specific date as the driver of my action, I was once again ranking the task according to its urgency.
As we’ve learned, that isn’t mindful planning, but more like mindless planning.
One way to think about this is via something I call The Relevancy Filter. (I’ll talk about this in more detail in the next article in the series.)
The relevancy filter is kind of like making coffee: it’s running your ideas, appointments, events, deadlines, and everything else the impacts your schedule through a filter. What comes through the filter is what’s most relevant and deserves your attention.
Resist scheduling a task until it’s relevant
In the previous photo (above), you can see that my tasks for March are listed by their unique reference tags. These are, collectively, the tasks are most relevant for the month.
It’s only when tasks are the most relevant that I schedule them on a specific date. Since the Zen-Journal system is paired with my smartphone, I simply enter any appointments into it and note it briefly on my Day-At-A-Time Work Area (DAATWA) as indicated in this photo.
How task relevancy leads to mindful planning and less over-scheduling
When your schedule is light and open, you feel better without regard to which planning system you use. It just feels good, positive, and freer.
Like me, you probably like to feel that you are less scheduled and open to how your day evolves. Using Zen-Journal’s mindful planning approach and eliminating (or at least decreasing) reliance on task urgency as the driver of your schedule, can lead you there.
Mindful planning doesn’t rely on the calendar for its reference point, but is relevancy-based and this creates the mindful approach based in awareness.
Relying on a calendar to drive your planning is urgency-based planning and leads to over-scheduling and feeling overwhelmed and overcommitted. Using Zen-Journal’s relevancy-based QLA instead leads to a more mindful and carefully considered daily schedule.
In the next post, you’ll learn about the concept of the scheduling target and how it can change your perspective on planning and scheduling and more about The Relevancy Filter and how to use it on a daily basis.