Monday, May 7, 2007

David Seah, Printable CEO - Emergent Task Planning

When I started to get organized in an effort to get on top of all of the tasks, work and personal, I looked around for ideas.

I found David Seah and his Printable CEO Series. A great lead in and really got me started on planning and, importantly, measuring my work for the day.

In essence the series is a set of PDF files that you can use to layout your day and tasks amongst other activities. The key takeaway for me was the Emergent Task Planner. This is the analogy of the big rocks and the sand. Take a container and load the sand in, now take the big rocks and see how many you get in. It's more efficient to place the big rocks first and then pack the sand around you'll get all of the big rocks in.

Now this container is your day and the rocks and the main tasks that you need to achieve. The sand is the small stuff you do in the day, email, phone calls, browsing etc.

This is where the Emergent Task Planner comes in. Using 15 minute time boxes you can lay out the key tasks for the day and see what is the optimal fit to get them all in.

I found this a great way to overlay some structure to work within. The main benefits are:

  • Time boxing gives a visual marker to see how full your day is
  • Making an estimate forces you to set a baseline to work to
  • Marking the actual elapsed time enables you to make increasingly better estimates for similar tasks
The only downside for me is the limitation that a paper based system brings. I travel a lot and don't have the room or the energy to cart a load of paper around with me. So I took some steps to create a fully editable soft version for myself using Excel. The basics structures are there but a slightly different layout for convenience of cells alignment if nothing else.

Get the file from File Den

No comments: