WEEK PLAN as a Google Calendar alternative

wp vs google calendar

In this post we’ll compare WEEK PLAN with Google Calendar, a time-management app created by Google and available since 2006. WEEK PLAN is the best Google Calendar alternative in comparison to the other apps we have analyzed before (Todoist and Trello). Despite the fact that the user interface has similarities, there are some major differences too.

Once again, we will provide you with a short comparison in terms of features, price, and time management concepts. This time, it’s Google Calendar’s turn to get under our magnifying glass!   (more…)

How a busy mom uses WEEK PLAN to organize her family

Who said time management apps were only dedicated to CEOs and corporate workers?

At WEEK PLAN, we want to help any busy individual who is looking to focus on the right things and become more effective. And some of these successful people are women who manage to balance work and family life, such as Kate.

Kate is a mom of 2: Jason, a 4 year-old who already goes to kindergarten, and Melissa, a 10-month restless baby who turns the entire house upside down every day. In her spare time, Kate is running a gift basket business from home and likes to create handmade knitted clothes.

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You’d probably expect Kate to keep a long to-do list on the refrigerator, have a cluttered desk, and be sleep-deprived. Well, none of these are true, although this mom would love to wake up a bit later in the week-end.

Kate’s solution for her busy and unpredictable lifestyle is a weekly planner, as the time management app chosen by thousands of other users helps her deal effectively with daily challenges. Actually, almost every feature of WEEK PLAN has been useful to Kate and can help other busy moms as well.

Let’s take a look at Kate’s activities and objectives and how WEEK PLAN allows her to keep track of them all.

Kids’ activities

Jason is taking swimming classes twice a week and Melissa goes to a music class accompanied by her mother each Thursday. Furthermore, both kids have different schedules and Melissa is spending time with her nanny every day from morning to 3 PM, while Kate is managing her online store. Kate doesn’t want to mix the two kids’ activities and manages them separately.

WEEK PLAN feature: Roles. Each kid is represented by a role, and each role comes with specific goals of the week. This way, Kate’s husband will make sure he takes the right kid to the doctor this week and that Melissa doesn’t get the flu shot instead of Jason.

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Regular activities

Kate pays Melissa’s nanny Carol every month on the 1st.  She doesn’t want to be reminded of this duty by Carol and likes to be prompt in her dealings.

WEEK PLAN feature: Repeating tasks. Kate uses the “Set repetition” option to make this task appear in the Week section every month on the 1st. No need to set a reminder on her phone anymore!

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Shopping lists

When you have two kids, the weekly shopping list becomes longer and some items are indispensable. For instance, Jason needs new swimming goggles and he couldn’t attend his class next week if his parents forget to buy new ones.

WEEK PLAN feature: Subtasks. Add a task called “Shopping” to your weekly schedule and list the items you need to buy as subtasks. Great idea if you usually forget the shopping list at home!

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Gift ideas

There’s always someone’s birthday coming or every once in a while Kate has a new idea on what products to develop for her online business. She could write everything down in an agenda, or on a piece of paper she might lose. On the other hand, these ideas are not a priority and don’t find their place in the weekly schedule. Where could she put them safe for later use?

WEEK PLAN feature: Parking lot. Kate can dump any new idea in the Parking lot, without worrying that she may not be able to find it later. She can create multiple categories to group these items, such as “Family activities ideas” or “Product ideas”.

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Focusing on work

We already know that Melissa is spending time with her nanny during the day, while her mom is working. Kate has her own separate desk room, but she is often tempted to check on her daughter and see how she is doing or to take a peek at her favorite shopping websites. Meanwhile, clients are placing orders, a new blog post needs to be published, and a large stack of boxes are waiting in the hallway to be picked by courier services. Kate really needs to find a way to stop procrastinating.

WEEK PLAN feature: Pomodoro timer. The Pomodoro timer (Pomodoro, it. = tomato) is a technique encouraging its users to break down work into 25-minute long intervals separated by short breaks. Instead of using a kitchen timer or a separate app, Kate relies on WEEK PLAN’s built-in Pomodoro timer to focus on her tasks, while Melissa is safe and playing with her nanny.

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Reorganizing tasks

Traditional time management strategies encourage you to tick as many tasks complete as possible every day, but this is hard to achieve by a work-at-home mom. Last Friday, Melissa had scheduled writing an outline for a new blog post, but she preferred to go out for a walk with her kids and enjoy the nice autumn weather. What happens with the task she hasn’t completed?

WEEK PLAN feature: Moving tasks to the next day. If you don’t complete a task today, it will automatically be moved to the next day. In the end, it was a lot better to prepare the outline on Saturday morning, when it was raining, and take the children to the park Friday in the afternoon when the weather was still nice.

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Dealing with time management on the go

The moments when we find the time and the mood needed to organize our weekly schedules are the most unexpected: at the restaurant while waiting for an order, on the way back from an appointment, or early in the morning before getting out of bed. And Kate likes to take advantage of any spare moment to put things in order.

WEEK PLAN feature: Responsive design. You can use WEEK PLAN from your computer, tablet or smartphone, no matter what your favorite browser is. If the best moment to write down some gift ideas is while shopping or having a coffee, you can do that and have it all saved in the WEEK PLAN app.

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Focusing on important tasks

The idea behind WEEK PLAN is not doing as many things as possible in a shorter time, but rather concentrating on the most important activities. The realistic thing to do is to accept that you cannot complete each and every task you have planned at the beginning of the week and to discover what matters
most. Kate would like to write down some product ideas for Mother’s Day next year, but other tasks represent a priority right now, like preventing new website errors.

WEEK PLAN feature: Marking tasks as important and/or urgent. WEEK PLAN allows you to reduce urgency and teaches you how to spend more time in Quadrant II by focusing on important tasks.

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Informing other people on her schedule

Kate is often too busy to inform her husband on the kids’ schedule every day, and furthermore, he is not able to take all her calls while at work. The solution is giving him access to Kate’s WEEK PLAN working space.

WEEK PLAN feature: Sharing spaces. Whether you are using WEEK PLAN for teamwork or you want to let your family see your weekly schedule, you can invite an unlimited number of people to your workspaces.

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Keeping a journal

Kate would love to keep a journal, but the old pen and pencil method is not an option – she doesn’t need any more agendas cluttering her desk, and in her journal entries she would also like to reflect on her work, which is mainly performed on a computer.

WEEK PLAN feature: Guided journaling. Kate can opt to receive every week an email with a question helping her to reflect on how her week went. Her reply to this email is added automatically to her journal in WEEK PLAN and self reflection helps her adjust how she runs her life.

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Are there any working moms reading our blog? We’d love to hear your feedback on WEEK PLAN and how the app is helping you to organize your family more effectively!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK PLAN as a Trello alternative

wp vs trelloAlthough it was designed as a time management app, WEEK PLAN can also be considered a project management instrument and represent an alternative to apps aimed at managing projects more efficiently. One of the best-known tools in this category is Trello, released in September 2011 and currently counting more than 5 million users. Just like we did last time with Todoist, we will make a parallel between WEEK PLAN and Trello in terms of features, price, and underlying concepts. Our goal is helping you decide which app suits your needs better and when to choose either of them.

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Trello features

  • Projects are called boards, and each board includes multiple lists (corresponding to tasks lists). Tasks or ideas are replaced by cards, which can be dragged and dropped from one list to the next as the project progresses
  • Cards can be associated attachments, comments, due dates, votes, and checklists
  • Easy collaboration and no more confusing email chains
  • Supports iPhone, Windows 8 and Android mobile platforms
  • Adding an unlimited number of tags
  • Can be used both at work and at home. Trello is recommended for projects like vacations, weddings, recipes, editorial calendars, job searches, etc.

WEEK PLAN features

  • Weekly view
  • Marking tasks as important and/or urgent
  • Formulating goals related to the various roles you play in your life (Partner, Father, Colleague, and so on)
  • Automatically moving tasks to the next day
  • Parking Lot for dumping ideas and using them later
  • Personal journal where you reflect on your day or week
  • Additional features included in the PRO version

The paradigm used by Trello

Trello is based on the Japanese kanban project management paradigm, which focuses on just-in-time (JIT) production. This manufacturing system uses an instruction card sent along the production line in order to regulate the supply of components. The kanban system was adapted to other fields as well, including software development, due its advantages, such as reducing overload on team members, making sure results are delivered in time, and telling team members what to produce, when to produce, and how to do it. The team approach has a central role for Trello, and this project management app also encourages members to learn from experience and achieve progress by visualizing workflows.

What makes WEEK PLAN different

The difference between this weekly planner and other productivity tools is its vision on time management. While most apps help you become more “productive” by encouraging you to tick as many tasks as possible, WEEK PLAN helps you keep your goals in mind and focus on what is the most important – or become more effective. We put emphasis on completing the tasks that matter, not on ticking a large number of tasks so you feel overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day. This is why you can mark tasks as urgent and/or important – so you prioritize activities and feel in control of your life.

Trello pricing

Users can sign up for Trello and enjoy most of its features for free. However, there is a Trello Gold version available at affordable costs:

  • $5 per month
  • $45 per year (saving 25%)

Another way of getting access to Trello Gold (without spending money) is inviting new members. Additional benefits of Trello Gold include:

  • Bigger card attachments (up to 250 MB)
  • Custom backgrounds, fun stickers, and customer emoji
  • Premium backgrounds and stickers
  • Saving the most frequently used searches

WEEK PLAN pricing

WEEK PLAN is also available in two versions: free and PRO. The PRO version of WEEK PLAN comes with different prices depending on your billing cycle. The longer the billing cycle, the greater the discount:

  • Monthly billing cycle – $19
  • Half-yearly billing cycle – $74 every 6 months
  • Yearly billing cycle – $84 every year

WEEK PLAN’s PRO version adds the following features:

  • Subtasks
  • Recurring tasks
  • Integration with Google Calendar
  • Analytics
  • Integration with 150+ web services via Zapier.com

Why would you choose Trello

Signing up for Trello is recommended when:

  • You prefer a logistics-like approach on projects
  • You want to know the status of each project immediately and supervising workflows is crucial for achieving success
  • You want to allow any member of the team to easily reflect on processes
  • You need to find motivation in past achievements, featured in the “Done” board
  • Tracking the progress of each team member is important

Why would you choose WEEK PLAN

Here’s what WEEK PLAN has to offer:

  • A new and successful vision on how to get things done
  • Learning how to become more effective and de-clutter your weekly schedule
  • Thinking in terms of roles
  • Planning and managing tasks week by week
  • Fresh content and advice on how to become more effective
  • Great features for teams

Even though both apps have a similar aim – helping you to get things done – they are simply different in terms of project management philosophy, layout, and features. It’s actually difficult to place Trello and WEEK PLAN on the same scale for comparison purposes. If we were to find some similarities between the two apps, we would mention the focus on teamwork and the possibility to reflect on project progress. Yet, what makes WEEK PLAN stand out as a Trello alternative is its focus on roles and task prioritizing.

WEEK PLAN as a Todoist alternative

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In this post we will compare WEEK PLAN to Todoist, one of the best-known time management apps. Todoist has been released in 2007 by the Doist startup and it currently has around 2 million users. The tool can be used to manage tasks from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

We are going to confront WEEK PLAN and Todoist in terms of features, time management concepts, and price. In the end, you should be able to tell which app suits you better and when to choose either of them.

WEEK PLAN

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Todoist

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Todoist features

  • Accessing tasks from anywhere, using any device and browser
  • Compatibility with 15+ platforms
  • Sharing tasks with family, friends and co-workers
  • Simple and clutter-free design
  • Sub projects and sub tasks
  • Notifications
  • Repeating due dates
  • Color-coded priority levels
  • Comments and labels

WEEK PLAN features

  • Weekly view
  • Marking tasks as important and/or urgent
  • Formulating goals related to the various roles you play in your life (Partner, Father, Colleague, and so on)
  • Automatically moving tasks to the next day
  • Parking Lot for dumping ideas and using them later
  • Personal journal where you reflect on your day or week
  • Additional features included in the PRO version

The philosophy behind Todoist

Based on their tagline (“Start getting more done in less time”), their app and blog contents Todoist focuses on improving productivity and helping users complete more tasks every single day. Productivity is a recurring keyword:

“Redefining productivity since 2007”

“At Doist, we specialize in productivity software.”

“How Exceptionally Productive People End The Workday”

Todoist does use the concept of priority, but it doesn’t have a central role in their time management philosophy.

What makes WEEK PLAN different

The difference between WEEK PLAN and other productivity tools is its vision on time management. 

While most apps help you become more “productive” by encouraging you to tick as many tasks as possible, WEEK PLAN helps you keep your goals in mind and focus on what is the most important – or become more effective.

We put emphasis on completing the tasks that matter, not on ticking a large number of tasks so you feel overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day.

This is why you can mark tasks as urgent and/or important – so you prioritize activities and feel in control of your life.

Todoist pricing

Todoist offers a free and a premium version. The premium version costs €23 a year (approximately $25) and comes with more than 10 extra features and improvements:

  • Notes and file attachments
  • Mobile and email reminders
  • Location alerts
  • Automatic backups
  • Custom filters
  • Task search
  • Tracking productivity
  • Exporting tasks
  • Adding emails as tasks
  • A larger number of active tasks and projects

WEEKPLAN pricing

WEEKPLAN offers many of Todoist’s premium features for free: notes and file attachments, backups, filters, search, emails as tasks, unlimited tasks.

WEEK PLAN’s PRO version on the other hand adds more additional features:

  • Subtasks
  • Recurring tasks
  • Integration with Google Calendar
  • Analytics
  • Integration with 150+ web services via Zapier.com

The PRO version of WEEK PLAN comes with different prices depending on your billing cycle. The longer the billing cycle, the greater the discount:

  • Monthly billing cycle – $19
  • Half-yearly billing cycle – $74 every 6 months
  • Yearly billing cycle – $84 every year

Why would you choose Todoist

Signing up for an app like Todoist is a good idea if:

  • You want to focus on productivity or getting more things done each day
  • You consider the old paradigm of productivity works well for you
  • You want to get access to 15+ platforms through your time management app

Why would you choose WEEK PLAN

Here’s what WEEK PLAN has to offer:

  • A new and successful vision on how to get things done
  • Learning how to become more effective and de-clutter your weekly schedule
  • Thinking in terms of roles
  • Planning and managing tasks week by week
  • Fresh content and advice on how to become more effective
  • Great features for teams

 

If you want to change the way you manage daily and weekly tasks, WEEK PLAN can offer you the right tools both in terms of underlying concepts and features!

When to spend money instead of time

Today we are going to talk about a common issue among entrepreneurs and professionals – lack of time. Since we provide a time management app, you’d probably expect us to share with you some classical tips on how to organize your schedule better and increase your productivity, right?

Well, not really. This post is not about squeezing more tasks into your daily schedule, but about taking them out. How?

By delegating them to other people.

But let’s get back to your problem and its causes. This must be a familiar scenario to you: you have lately been working on an important project that is very rewarding, but also requires lots of time and effort. In the meanwhile, the place where you live has turned into a mess, your potted plants have died, and you never have time to shop or take your dog out for a longer walk. Doesn’t it feel frustrating when you don’t have time or interest for completing these mundane tasks, which are otherwise important for your well-being?

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Productivity vs. effectiveness

The reason why so many people feel overwhelmed with everyday duties, both professional and domestic, is following the old paradigm of productivity that makes you think you should get more things done, preferably in less time.

It’s time to leave this kind of thinking behind and start making a difference between two concepts – productivity and effectiveness.

Productivity focuses on quantity – the idea is to achieve more, to get more things done, and to limit the amount of time needed to complete a task. This concept is often used in business, and sometimes with negative consequences. Business owners want to produce more, but frequently neglect important aspects, such as the human and material costs of increasing productivity.

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Effectiveness, on the other hand, puts an emphasis on quality; effectiveness is also the fundamental paradigm of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey sees effectiveness as a function of two things: what is produced and the capacity to produce.

The problem with the old paradigm of productivity is that in your struggle to achieve more and get more golden eggs, you start to neglect the goose or your producing asset. Effectiveness allows you to create perfect balance between production of desired results and production capability. This change of attitude will help you not feel overpowered by everyday tasks anymore or become unable to complete them. Isn’t this what you are trying to achieve, after all?

Outsourcing in business

The solution for having more time for yourself is found in the place where you expect it less: at work.

In business, we delegate tasks or outsource various functions in order to become more effective. Business would not thrive without applying this solution – let’s imagine a company lands a large contract that increases the amount of purchasing for a limited period of time. Is it worth burdening employees with this occasional extra work and sacrifice quality in the back-office? No, the best solution is to outsource purchasing.

The benefits of outsourcing in business are already well-known – these are just a few of them:

  • Access to better skills
  • Reducing costs
  • Elasticity (you can grow and shrink as needed)
  • Maintaining focus on core activities
  • Decreasing the need for office space
  • Flexibility (use additional resources only when needed)

How can you apply outsourcing in your life?

You should consider a similar strategy for mundane tasks as well, especially when you don’t enjoy doing them.

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Here are just a few examples of common tasks you may want to entrust to somebody else:

  • House cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Shopping, buying presents
  • Walking the dog and taking it to the vet or groomer
  • Organizing family events
  • Doing repairs in your home
  • Lawn maintenance
  • Doing the laundry
  • Picking up your drycleaning
  • Online errands like paying bills
  • Managing emails

When should you outsource?

Outsourcing everyday tasks has given birth to an extremely lucrative gig industry – on the one side, we have people who are high achievers and earn enough to outsource, and on the other we have contractors or services ready to meet their needs, from delivering groceries to helping them sort their personal emails. Should you become a part of it?

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The idea is to outsource mundane tasks when your time becomes extremely valuable for you. For busy people, an hour saved may be worth more than the money they pay to a service provider. A mom running a successful small business will prefer to pay someone to cook meals so she can spend more priceless time with her children, and in a similar manner, a young professional living in a big city would rather pay an extra fee to have their groceries delivered at home instead of doing a two-hour trip and carrying bags.

So, you should outsource when the answer is “Yes” to both these questions, especially the first one:

  • Is the time saved more valuable than the money spent?
  • Do you dislike doing the task?

How to identify what you should outsource

The decision to outsource a task should be taken after identifying those chores or duties that you dislike and making a few calculations so you decide what’s worth more: the money or your time and effort.

We suggest this practical 5-step process to identify what you should outsource:

  1. Determine your hourly wage

It’s simple – the amount of money you earn in an hour should be high enough to exceed the amount of money you spend outsourcing for an hour, otherwise you will lose out by paying somebody else to do the job.

  1. What causes frustration in your life?

Many conflicts between partners rise from mundane tasks – instead of relaxing and spending time together after work, you have to clean the house, do the laundry, or cook. By the end of the evening, you both are too tired to communicate to each other and bond. So, what ruins your leisure time more than anything else? Consider outsourcing that task.

  1. Decide whether it’s worth outsourcing

Now that you have decided you no longer want to pay your bills and manage your emails instead of watching your favorite show, start looking for service providers and check their hourly rates. If one hour of your time is more valuable than the amount of money you’ll have to pay to outsource, then you should go with it!

  1. Find the best provider

Now it’s time to find a provider you can trust and who is billing a convenient hourly rate. Consider websites like DoMyStuff o
r TaskRabbit; if the task you want to outsource can be completed by a virtual assistant, try Upwork and Fiverr. The great things about these websites is that contractors get public feedback from their clients and you can easily determine who is reliable and provides high-quality services and who will just waste your time.

  1. Hire the provider

After interviewing several providers, it’s time to stick with the best candidate and make a decision. If you are not satisfied with your choice after they start working, you can put an end to the collaboration and look for someone else. Whether you need a service provider to work for you 1 hour a week or 30, there’ll always be someone out there ready to do the job and save you the headache.

Bonus tip: Apart from outsourcing your hands on work, you could also try your hands on various time tracking tools. For instance, if you are a digital marketer then Hootsuite for social media management and Omniconvert for improving conversions will save the day for you.

So, what’s that chore you’re dreading and how will you get rid of it? Let us know in the comments so that other readers may get inspired to.

Interview with Dan: Becoming a professional golfer through 10,000 hours of deliberate practice

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Dan used to be the average 30 year-old man until April 5, 2010; that was when he quit his day-job as a commercial photographer to become a professional golfer, although he had never played 18 holes of golf in his life. He has embarked on a 10,000 hours journey that will end in December 2016, confident that success comes from practice and not from talent. Every step of the “Dan Plan” is being documented on Dan’s website and on a support network created on social media sites. Let’s see what Dan has to share with WeekPlan readers in terms of productivity and motivation more than 5 years after starting his unique project!

WeekPlan: Let’s start with the first question: was this the first time in your life when you embarked on such an out-of-the-norm adventure?

Dan: My initial reaction to this question was “Of course!”, but then I realized that when I was 20 I left university to head out on my own and travel around the world for about a year.  It wasn’t nearly the same type of quest that I am currently on, but it was groundwork for a larger “project” in my life. I am not sure how A led to B, but without the earlier exploration I am not sure I would have had the courage to embark on the current plan. It’s hard to jump off a high-dive board when you don’t know if you can swim, but when you take it one step at a time, this makes progressing through life stages seem natural.

WeekPlan: Do you remember what prompted you to start “The Dan Plan”? How did the idea grow in you?

Dan: Originally I was looking for the next challenge in life. After a number of years as a commercial photographer I had found some success, but I was ready to make a transition. I wanted to do something completely new to me in order to see how far an average person could go in a new pursuit starting later in life. I was on a road trip in Omaha, NE visiting my brother and he took me out to play a par 3 golf course on my 30th birthday. I was horrible at the sport and afterwards we were talking about whether it was nature or nurture that made someone successful in an endeavor like golf. After a lot of internal debate I decided the only way to answer this question was to quit my job and go all-in.

WeekPlan: We believe the vision one has of his own goals help provide motivation during difficult times. How did you visualize your Plan at the beginning? What helped you keep going?

Dan: When I started I had no clue what I was doing or how I was going to do it, but, as you said, I had a vision of where I wanted to be. It wasn’t immediately clear how the day-to-day would go, but having a concrete idea of where I needed to be helped actualize my interim goals and kept me on an upward path. There were numerous tough times along the way, but after a while I realized that all hard times are eventually followed by a breakthrough and an elevated time – the nature of a fluctuating world.

WeekPlan: Did you use any specific tools and techniques to stay on track? For example, how do you handle weeks when you are too busy to practice or too tired?

Dan: At first it was very tough, and by “at first” I mean the first couple of years. I didn’t understand the nature of improvement and I became frustrated at times when there would be a setback in my progress. In the same vein, I had lull days where my energy level was very low and I would feel exhausted for no apparent reason. After a while I realized that these things are cyclical and learned that there were times where it was best to push through and times when the only option was to walk away and come back with a fresh mind/body.

WeekPlan: The theory behind your plan is that skill comes from practice more than raw talent. Do you still feel the same now, more than 5 years after starting “The Dan Plan”?

Dan: After five years of this pursuit I definitely still believe that skill comes from practice. I have always believed that there are certain genetic traits that can be advantageous to specific pursuits, such as having a large amount of fast twitch muscles helping someone’s chances at being a sprinter or on the contrary a composition of slow twitch muscles aiding in distance running.  Outside of extreme examples of very specific athletic pursuits the main difference between success and failure is amount of work put in and the willingness to accept and understand failure.

WeekPlan: Have you been enticed to start new ideas / plans during that time? I often have ideas that get me excited momentarily. What allowed you to stay focused on “The Dan Plan”?

Dan: There are always new ideas and thoughts. I have had loads of ideas in the past five years, but I told myself that I would see this through so that it is keeping my on track for what I want to do in the coming future.  I enjoy what I do and still have so much to learn.

Want to achieve more? Learn how to maintain production capability!

Today we would like to introduce you to the concept of P/PC: production / production capability. By finding the right balance between reaping the rewards and spending effort in maintaining your assets, you can reduce the urgency in your life. This concept was made popular by the book “7 habits of highly effective people” by S. Covey.

Let’s say that both Joe and Sarah just bought the same car. 

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The first year, Joe doesn’t do any maintenance work on his car because he says the car doesn’t need it and he doesn’t have the time anyway.

Sarah, on the other hand, washes the car fairly regularly and goes to the mechanic whenever something doesn’t seem quite right.

If you’d ask Joe, he’d tell you that what Sarah is doing is unnecessary.

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5 years later, Sarah has kept her habit of maintaining the car regularly. She had to fix a few things but far less than Joe. Nevertheless, they both end up spending the same amount of effort on their asset:

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You can see where this story is heading. 10 years later, Joe has had a lot of issues with his car and he had to resolve them when he was least available. 

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In the meanwhile, Sarah is still enjoying a functional car and already making an appointment for the next technical inspection.

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This story tells the same morale as the golden goose fable: short-term thinking that focuses on eggs and neglects production capability will cause you to damage or even lose your assets; effectiveness depends both on the golden eggs (results) and the goose (maintaining production capability).

How to keep the golden goose happy and healthy

Many popular time management and productivity tools can be blamed for our tendency to neglect asset preservation. The more tasks you tick and the more eggs you get from the goose, the more productive you are, right? Well, this is far from the truth.

The time management vision that Week Plan promotes is different. The idea is to become effective, not productive, by focusing on important things.

All tasks you have to complete each day fall under 4 different categories:

quadrants

Quadrant II is the place where you want to spend more time and where maintaining production capability is included. By giving priority to important tasks, you’ll avoid crisis, dealing with tight deadlines every day, and needing to solve pressing problems on a regular basis. Prevention plays a vital role within Quadrant II, and, in order to become more effective, you’ll need to allocate more time to activities aimed at preserving assets.

Here are the kinds of assets you need to maintain in order to enjoy a high production capability and not break down like Joe’s car:

Physical and mental health

What to do:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Sleep 8 hours every night
  • Exercise regularly
  • Spend time outdoors
  • Relax and reduce stress
  • Engage in pleasant activities like hobbies
  • Spend time on things that make you feel uplifted and inspired

Personal relationships

What to do:

  • Spend quality time with your family
  • Don’t neglect your friends
  • Socialize often
  • Invest in personal relationships by being helpful and engaging in empathic listening

Work and productivity

What to do:

  • Learn how to delegate tasks
  • Invest in training your staff
  • Make meetings shorter and more focused
  • Use time management tools such as the Pomodoro technique
  • Limit the amount of time you spend checking email and social media accounts

All these activities require extensive planning, structure, and even changing your lifestyle. If you keep following the old paradigm of focusing on urgent tasks, you’ll find it impossible to squeeze a workout session three times a week in your busy and unpredictable schedule or to call your old friends regularly. When the car is broken, thinking how to maintain it properly is out of the question and all you can think of is how to make it run another mile.

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But, when you take care to maintain production capability, the car never breaks and you enjoy a steady, safe journey, where you also have time to admire the landscape and relax. What things will look like for you?

 

 

 

5 reasons why you need a weekly planner

Time management is a challenge even for the most talented and motivated people.

Productivity levels vary from day to day, and modern tools that are supposed to help us work better and faster can turn against us – think of all the time you lose checking your email every day or giving up to guilty pleasures like shopping online.

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Some people like to keep track of their daily activities using paper and pencil, but checking a long scribbled list of to-do things may have the opposite effect and make you feel discouraged.

A well-tuned weekly planner should help you focus on your most important tasks instead of showing you how much work you still need to do in a short time. Here are 5 reasons why a weekly planner will help you get things done and enjoy your daily activities more:

  1. You can keep track of all responsibilities at any moment

A weekly planner can be accessed from any device, including your smartphone, and you can always check upcoming tasks without needing to carry your agenda with you. Do you feel like updating your schedule while commuting to work? No problem, you can have a look at all your tasks right now!

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  1. You get used to focusing on important activities

Do you feel like any activity on your schedule is urgent? It’s a common feeling, and this happens when you forget to prioritize activities by importance. A good weekly planner will allow you to showcase the most important activities, keep track of them and avoid running out of time because of poor task prioritizing.

  1. You can share your schedule with other people

Explaining your daily plans to other people is not only annoying, but also time consuming. The best weekly planners include team features, allowing your family, friends or co-workers to have access to your schedule or a part of it (in case you need privacy) and making it easier to find a moment when you can spend time with them or work together.

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  1. You’ll increase your productivity

According to some grim statistics, only 45% of the time people spend at work is actually used for completing primary job duties. A reminder from your weekly planner and the perspective of not finishing your to-do list today will help stop wasting time.

  1. You’ll enjoy a feeling of completion at the end of the week

Each time you cross out an activity in your weekly planner or mark it as complete, you’ll feel closer to attaining your goals and at peace with your inner self. It’s a well-known fact: you enjoy your leisure time more when you know you’ve done your job!

Soylent, my experience

More than a year ago, I discovered Soylent through the founder’s blog where he was sharing his progress in looking for a recipe for a complete meal replacement drink.

Soylent is basically a mash up of all the nutrients your body supposedly needs in a day.

Benefits

I am attracted to the concept of being confident that I am giving my body the nutrients it needs throughout the day, and rather than hoping that the food I eat has enough of everything, I believe I can achieve a superior result by measuring my intake.

Some people are attracted to Soylent because it is generally cheaper than normal food (a DIY recipe could be as cheap as $5 a day), and some are attracted to it because it saves them time (2 minutes preparation if you use the official Soylent product or 10 minutes for a DIY version).

For me, I am attracted to the health benefits. The fact it is cheap and quick to make removes resistance to do it.

Also, I don’t want to replace all my meals with Soylent so I took a hybrid approach: breakfasts and lunches are replaced with Soylent and dinners stay “normal”. I have been doing that for a few months now and I am ready to reorder a new batch of ingredients.

Soylent in Australia

Unfortunately I cannot buy Soylent easily from Australia, they still don’t deliver it down under so I started looking for alternatives. There is an online community of people who share recipes of Soylent alternatives using local ingredients: DIY Soylent. After some browsing, I found a recipe that suited my needs: Australian Soylent 1.0. (I found the recipe too sweet for my taste so I reduced the sugar)

I bought the ingredients online (three different shops) and 3 days later I had the ingredients I needed.

Ingredients used for DIY Soylent

It takes me 10 minutes in the morning to prepare my day worth of drinks.

The final product:

DIY Soylent in Australia

Results

How does it taste? For me it taste a bit like cake dough before baking it. I added cocoa and banana to vary the taste a bit.

How do I feel during a Soylent day? I don’t feel any different than other days. I don’t feel more alert like other people reported. I feel full until about 4pm. I have a fast metabolism and I generally am hungry at 10:30am.

How about bowels problems? People have reported having diarrhoea or smelly farts with Soylent. I don’t personally experience any major changes with this australian recipe.

Headaches: For a time, I bumped up the level of proteins to 180g a day but it was giving me headaches. Keeping it at 100g like in the recipe solved that problem.

Colorful urine: this is due to the excess vitamins from the multi-vitamins pills. Not really a problem but I decided to only take one of these pills instead of two.

Overall, I really enjoy having discovered Soylent and a way to have it here in Australia, I need to find more ways to vary the taste.

 

UPDATE: Make sure to read Marc’s comment too. Very insightful!

Updated roadmap

Hi, I have worked recently on clarifying the roadmap for WEEK PLAN and thought you might be interested to see it.

Roadmap

1. Polish the Android app. We published the Android app silently a few weeks ago and unfortunately it is still very “experimental”. Because I am not an Android app developer myself, I have outsourced the development to another company and fixing and polishing the app takes an order of magnitude more time than I would like.

2. Publish a new version of the API. We will improve the documentation and the consistency of the API to make it easy for any developer to create apps on top of WEEK PLAN. The first product to come out of this API is the iPhone app which is doing very well now.

3. Rework the user experience. I believe I can make the experience on WEEK PLAN a lot more engaging by improving how a user enters information and navigates in the web application.

4. Calendar day view. This is our most requested feature and after several months of product design I believe I came up with an elegant solution.

5. Etc… There are more than 400 items in our parking lot, so we are not running out of ideas on how to improve the product… The timer seems to be a feature people use extensively so we might look into improve it.

 

What we have been working on lately

1. Publish the Android app.

2. Publish and polish the Google Calendar synchronization.

3. Hire another developer. Although we are making progress, things are going way too slow. So for months I have been looking to hire someone but I couldn’t find anyone that matched what I was looking for. Finally I met Dzmitry from Belarus and he is great!

4. Automation of the testing. One of the things I want to improve is the stability of the software and Dzmitry’s first task has been to automate the testing on many pages of WEEK PLAN.

5. The Outliner. I was looking for a way to connect long term vision with the weekly planner and this is what the Outliner is about. I am planning to publish a video about the Outliner soon.