I’ve been using daily planning techniques, in the form of “big rocks”, since October 2007. In fact, I left a comment on Matthew Cornell’s blog about it about a year ago (his post is here).
Matt’s been testing and honing his ideas on daily planning as an addition to a GTD-like system, and I recently had the pleasure of reviewing the results: his new eBook on daily planning, Where the !@#% did my day go?.
Despite having practiced daily planning paired with GTD for almost two years (and GTD for nearly four), I found several new gems in the book. In particular, the practice of inserting everything into the daily plan, including calendar and inbox-checking tasks, is new to me and will help streamline my current process. I opted to skip the ‘getting started’ phase of the book and the one-week challenge, given my experience, but I found that they really covered the nuances of the practice well. Furthermore, every pitfall that I’ve encountered in daily planning was addressed by Matt later in the book.
Matt also detailed a number of experiments to try, to help hone the system for one’s individual needs. These covered every single experiment and metric I’ve run on my daily planning, and added several more that I’m considering trying. Ultimately he suggests trying for a “touchdown” — finishing all of the tasks on the list. This is the rule for me, rather than the exception. It provides a really nice feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day, a feeling I couldn’t get from looking at my list of remaining, actionable tasks in PHPMyGTD (20-80 normally, I prefer to keep it below 40).
I found very little to criticize in the book, and most of it can be traced back to personal preference. For instance, Matt mentioned the use of an accountability partner for holding to one’s daily plans. For me this makes a massive difference in my discipline, enough that I created DidYouDo.it, a site for finding accountability partners. (It’s unfortunately not really active at the moment.) I also find it really helpful to estimate the time required for each task explicitly and then write it down, reporting back to my accountability partner each day how the actual times matched up to the estimates. On the whole, however, the book is nothing short of an excellent introduction and manual for daily planning practice. If only this book had been in my hands two years ago when I started this practice, I could have saved myself months of tinkering and lost time.