This is the fourth post in a series on LIFE planning. In this series, I am sharing with you the basics of a LIFE plan and why you need one by going through the details of my own LIFE planning process. Neither my plan nor my process are perfect. In fact, they are evolving from year to year. My hope is that you can take what I do (or even just parts of it) and use it to create your own plan.
Life Plan Components
So far, I have told you why I think you need a life plan. I have shown you how to create a life plan master document and dashboard. In this post, I want to share with you the way I use technology as a part of my life planning process. Before you ask, I will walk you through my Weekly Review process in the next post!
Too Many Technology Choices!
Obviously, there are more technology choices out there than Baskin Robbins flavors of ice cream. I know this makes it tough to choose the right one. So, I did the best I could and ran with what I found. My point in telling you this is that my choices are just that…my choices. You may find something that works better for you.
If so, great! If you do not want to go through the search process, then I welcome you to try what I am using. You may even choose some and ignore others. You may even stick to pen and paper. Truly, it is not important. What is important is that you get started with something! Don’t let this subject keep you from beginning your life plan.
First, I will tell you about my hardware. I use an iPhone, iPad, and an HP laptop. I am not an “Apple” guy (no Mac for me at this point!), but I do love the iPhone and iPad. Everything I do syncs automatically and wirelessly between all three of these products. (The one exception is that I have to sync my iPhone and laptop with iTunes to sync my Contacts.)
I could get by without the iPad, but it has been a treat to use (I am still getting used to it) the more I learn with it. So at least for today, I mainly use the other two.
Software / Apps
As for my software/apps, there are four main products that I use. In each case, there are several products on the market, some paid and some free, that are similar in most ways. Again, these are not necessarily the best, but certainly work well for me. Every app listed below works on all three of my hardware products and syncs automatically.
This is probably the guts of my LIFE plan process. This is where I have uploaded my LIFE Plan Dashboard. The Dashboard is in a spreadsheet file, along with several other sheets I have added over time. In this one file, I have sheets that track my progress toward my goals.
I have a separate sheet for each of the following Focus Areas and Goals:
Reading List – books I’ve read, how I rated them, and progress toward goal
Listening List – audio books and messages I’ve listened to, rating, and goal progress
Exercise – exercise time and activities, progress toward goals
Scripture – all memory verses (1 per week) I am memorizing
Teaching – each teaching session I’ve led (topic and time) and goal progress
Blog Stats – tracks traffic metrics and goal progress
I use Google Docs for this because I can access it from any computer with internet access. This way I can do my review whether I am at my own computer or not. I can also access it on my iPhone and iPad.
Toodledo is my To Do list on steroids! In this app, I keep all of my tasks and projects. Using the general philosophy from David Allen’s Getting Things Done, I try to keep everything listed in here and not on my mind.
This app is very flexible in the way it allows me to schedule tasks, group them in folders according to Focus Area or by projects (with subtasks), and tag them any way I want. It sends reminders by SMS text or email (or both!). Whether I am in the car with only my phone or in the bed reading on the iPad, these reminders keep me straight and on task!
Since I am already using Gmail and Google Docs, it makes sense for me to use Google Calendar as well. One of the things I like about Google Calendar is the ability to create multiple calendars and overlay them with each other, any way I want.
My wife keeps a calendar for the family and kid events. Anytime I want to plan family time or a date night out, I can simply click on her calendar and it overlays mine to show me the free times! This really works well for us.
In addition to my main calendar, I keep a simple reading and listening calendar along with one for my teaching/training schedule. These allow me to leave these calendars hidden except during my weekly review time. This way, my main calendar is not too cluttered.
Evernote is an amazing app that will do much more than I currently use for my LIFE plan process. Essentially, it is an electronic storage cabinet for any kind of document or file you want to put there.
For starters, I have my main LIFE Plan Document stored there. I also have a Weekly Review Template, which is just a checklist for my Weekly Review process. I also clip articles and ideas for future training sessions here.
All of my blog posts are written in Evernote and my prayer “notebook” is there. I also have a template there for my non-fiction book “net-outs.” I keep the net-outs from every book there as well.
All of this is available to review and edit on any computer with internet connection, but you can also download any or all files for offline use. When recently on vacation in Jamaica, this came in handy!
I assume this may seem like too much to some of you. I don’t disagree. At the same time, until I build habits in some of these areas, this process really helps keep me on track.
While I do not expect anyone to copy my process, I do hope my sharing has helped generate some ideas for many of you. If you have any questions about any of it, please feel free to ask. I will help where I can!
Are you using any of these tools or something similar?
How are you using technology to strengthen your performance?
What tools are you using that others may find useful?
Originally posted 1/29/12