The video above is a short walkthrough of the Daily Momentum Planner. The Daily Momentum Planner helps you plan to do the right projects and actions during the right part of the day.
The most up-to-date version of the planner is inside the Momentum app — try it now with a 30-day free trial. Or you can always download one of our free PDF planner pages here. Our other free worksheets are now over in the Content Library in our free Mighty Networks community.
It incorporates the insights from How Heat Mapping Your Productivity Can Make You More Productive, namely in that we have more creative energy during some parts of the days than during others. Thus, it makes sense to do the work that requires creative heavy lifting during the times where you have peak creative energy.
The Basic Concept of the Daily Momentum Planner
The Daily Momentum Planner helps you sort your day first by major projects, then by tasks, so you can figure out what you should do when.
The Daily Momentum Planner has six work areas:
- Today’s Projects
- Scheduled Events
- Supporting Tasks
- Emergent Tasks
- Today’s Schedule
The Notes area is self-explanatory. The rest could probably use some description.
This block is intentionally small. Trying to plug too many major projects into one day tends to leave us overwhelmed with how much we have to do. I give enough space for five (5!) projects. If you can get five major projects done in a day, then you’re doing better than a lot of people are.
If you’ve filled out the Weekly Momentum Planner for the week, these should be the same projects you wrote down on it. You’ve already done the work, so don’t recreate the wheel here.
(Note: I’m using “project” in the broad sense, meaning some key product or service that needs completion. Whether something is a project or a task is a post for another day.)
This area is used for any already scheduled meetings, events, lunch dates, and/or appointments, so you can see them all in one place and use the Today’s Schedule section accordingly. If you fill out your Scheduled Events daily, you may be able to recognize a pattern of planning your meetings or meetups at your peak productivity times and change those times for future scheduled events.
These are the tasks that directly support the projects you’re working on. I’m using “tasks” a bit broader here, too. For example, the task “Respond to Email” may include the sub-tasks “Check Email,” “Sort Email,” and “Respond to Email.” I’ve intentionally left it broad so that you can manage tasks at whatever level you need to – e.g., sometimes you really need to list every step in the process and sometimes you don’t.
It’s relatively common for unplanned tasks to pop up in the middle of the day. This block is the place to dump those tasks. If one of those requires more capacity to complete than some of your other tasks, it may bump them. Otherwise, it can sit there until you have time to deal with it.
This area is helpful because it gets the task off your mind while you work or makes you re-prioritize your work to complete the task if it has to be done. This area remains empty during your planning process so that you can review it later on to see what tasks you planned to do and what tasks you didn’t plan on doing — it’s helpful for future planning.
This area is where the rubber hits the road. You’ll notice two lines in each block. The default context for those blocks is that they’re 30-minute increments. Using them this way, you can just quickly write the task down on the second line and understand that you plan to do the task at 30 minutes past the hour. Alternatively, you could see the lines as listing all the tasks you want to get done sometime in that hour. Either way works, as long as you’re consistent with the usage.
Lastly, the hour sections (the blank space on the far left) can be linked by arrows, brackets, circles, or whatever way makes sense to you as you plan. I tend to group several of the boxes because I like to schedule large blocks of time to work on projects so I can follow the Two-Hour Rule.
I’ve intentionally designed this area to have some flexibility so that as much usable information can come from one sheet as possible. You may not need 8 hours in focus, in which case you can just cross through the hour sections you don’t plan on using. Hopefully the versatility here is an advantage and doesn’t lead to indecision and confusion, because indecision and confusion are counterproductive.
How to Use the Daily Momentum Planner
Now that you’re oriented to the Daily Momentum Planner, here’s the process for using it:
- If possible, complete the Weekly Momentum Planner first. Its higher-level perspective makes it faster to complete the Daily Momentum Planner because it helps you make decisions without getting into the minutiae.
- Fill in the Today’s Projects block. These should be the corresponding ones from the Weekly Momentum Planner.
- Fill in the hour. For example, if your work day starts at 11 am, write 11 am in the first hour section above the four numbers.
- If you have any scheduled events, go ahead and place them in Scheduled Events. Notice whether there’s a trend of those meetings and scheduled events sitting during your peak times and hot times.
- Fill in the Supporting Tasks block. If you already have a pretty good handle on what it takes to get a certain project done, then you might no need to go into too much detail. However, some projects can use some splitting up, so do that here. Also, consider the difficulty of the task – if it requires a lot of productive energy, know you may need to do that during blocks of time in which you’re at your productive peak.
- Place the tasks from Supporting Tasks in the open blocks in Today’s Schedule. As best you can, match the tasks with high energy requirements to times when you have the highest energy.
- Do not use the Emergent Tasks block for planning. That block is reserved for emergent tasks so you can separate them from planned ones, as the former are often more time sensitive than the latter, and you don’t want them to get mixed into the fray. It’s also helpful to see over the course of a week how many unplanned things end up on your plate so you can figure out why that’s happening or at least know that you have X number of tasks that show up on your plate.
A Momentum Planner for Every Perspective
The Daily Momentum Planner pairs with the Weekly Momentum Planner and Monthly Momentum Planner to create a complete chain of perspectives. You can start with your monthly planning and chunk your projects all the way down to 30-minute increments if you wish. Or you can start with where you are today and work yourself up to the monthly view.
Where you start your planning process isn’t as important as that you’ve started, and ensure that you are practicing the 5 essential skills to do your best planning. Remember: If you’re planning effectively, you’ll always be changing your plans. Get to it! Want more? Check out the Monthly and Weekly Momentum Planners.
Dave Seah says
I think it’s great that you’re building upon some of my ideas…keep up the good work! Fight the good fight! 🙂
Dave Seah’s last blog post..I?m in San Jose, Again
Quiet Rebel Writer says
Wow – Charlie, this is pretty great. A terrific hard copy way to organize and prioritize. Great job, and I’m going to start using this!
Quiet Rebel Writer’s last blog post..We Interrupt our Regular Blog Schedule?
Ed Ibbafibby says
Wow! Great! Are you releasing the source?
My brain is spinning as I try to come to grips with this. I will definitely give it a try next week and get back to you re. usability. I particularly like the box for emerging tasks because this is a part of life, and it minimizes stress and improves productivity to make note of items that pop up and must be dealt with at some point. After it’s recorded you can forget about it until you’re ready to action it.
My only concerns are not with your system, but with me. I think I will have lots of fun filling this out, but sticking to it, well that’s another thing. I’m such a fly by the seat of my pants girl, I still have trouble really implementing productivity ideas. Like reading about them though!
What do you think – should we all use systems or should some of us stay organic and free? Whenever I have tried to implement a system such as this, I wonder if I’m trying to change my natural personality.
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Charles Gilkey says
@ Dave: I really appreciate you stopping by and leaving the nice comment. It means a lot to me, seeing as much as I owe you for the inspiration for this.
@ QRW: Thanks for letting me know you liked it. I favor paper based ways to track this stuff at the moment, probably because the minimalism of it. Nothing to fiddle with, no distractions, just a list of stuff to do and when it needs to get done. I’m looking forward to your feedback on it.
@ Ed: I’m not sure what you mean by source. Do you mean the data in the actual way I created it rather than the PDF? If so, yes I plan to after I get some more feedback on it. I’m doing it that way so I don’t have multiple data versions to fix and release. If you’ve got Omnigraffle, I’ll go ahead and shoot it to you. Thanks for the great feedback.
@ Kelly: Thanks for the detailed feedback re: the Emergent task block. I’m glad that resounded well with you, as it works pretty well for me, too.
I think that the organic and free mentality is a system as much as more methodical ones. I think we should all, at the very minimum, think about our productivity and make the choice whether we are going to remain natural or try to enhance our personality.
I also think that you’re right on the money that you are trying to change your personality, since I think we change who we are by practice. If we practice productivity, then we’ll change to become more productive, assuming we continue at it. Some parts of our natural personalities need to go, other parts are part of things that make life harder for us.
I guess all I can say is try it and see if you’re becoming more free and fulfilled due to your increased ability to get things done. If not, this (or any) productivity system may not be for you.
Thats a great daily planner.. do you have a weekly, monthly and yearly planners too??
Charles Gilkey says
@ Chris: Not yet. I’m in the process of developing it. Thanks for the feedback, and stay tuned!
thanks for helping me plan productively and according to priority – I can actually manage to sort out my life!! I like the practicality of your concept! Its Schort, Schweet and Schimple!
Charles Gilkey says
@ Twinkie: Short, sweet, and simple, with or without the additional ch, is the best compliment that could be given for this product. Thank you very much for the feedback.
Charles R. says
You’ve done a great job with both of your planners – I can already see how they will positively impact my life. My only suggestion would be to make a post that would show us how exactly to use the daily/weekly planners.
Take a typical week and write down the tasks to show us how you would prioritize them. Show us how the tasks/projects would be listed on both the daily and weekly planners. It would be beneficial to include some high priority tasks as well as some low priority and emergent tasks.
I really like what you’ve done but I just need a tutorial on how exactly to apply them to my life. I think once I see the planners with sample tasks listed on them (as a reference), I will be able to take full advantage of them.
Either way, GREAT work!
Charles R.s last blog post..The way is simply to suffer
Charles Gilkey says
@ Charles R.: That’s a brilliant suggestion. I’ve been thinking of writing a users guide to the planners, but it seemed a bit overkill – why would a supposedly simple planner need a user’s guide? But then again, if we right, we’re having to relearn how to schedule our day, so the guide is more on how to do that than to simply use the form. This request is high in the queue – hopefully it will be out in the next few days.
stacey thornton says
Yes I agree a tutorial would be helpful. I have been trying to decide for weeks on which planner to get that would be useful in life as well as business. I have just recently discovered I am a multipotentialite and am determined to get myself into action this year to reach all my important goals. Your blog has been very enlightening and I appreciate how you have given definition to and broken down certain things, and although I love to read I am a very visual person and learn through demonstration and examples as well. There is a lot to learn or unlearn and a tutorial on your planners, especially this one would be awesome! If you have already done this, then please point me in the right direction. ..Thanks for all you do.:-)
Charlie Gilkey says
I’m glad you found us, Stacey. I’m in-progress on the tutorials – we needed to redesign some of them first to update them to our current language and it was only going to make more work to provide a tutorial for an old design! Be on the lookout for some tutorials in January.
Jo Ann says
Great stuff! I can’t wait to put it to use. I too am a big fan of Mr. Seah’s work. I agree that a user’s guide might be overkill. I do think that maybe two examples (a corporate-type heavy schedule versus a more open ended type of schedule) would be much more helpful. Thanks!!
Jo Anns last blog post..This is dedicated…
Charles Gilkey says
@ Jo Ann: Thanks for the kind words. Dave is awesome, isn’t he?!
When I roll the redesign of the Weekly Productivity Planner out, I’ll come back around and give some real use examples.
Some of my recent posts have been more theoretical but still relevant to using the planners.
I appreciate your time and patience!
Brad Tanner says
I make my own planners too. I have a monthly/yearly planner there.
Check it out here.
You may want to check out http://www.GoalsOnTrack.com, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and supports time tracking too. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.
I wanted to printed the Daily Productive Planner but it appeared 404 error. So I wonder if the link is broken. Thank!
Michelle Mangen says
Thanks for bringing it to our attention that the link was broken. We’ve fixed it. Just a side note for you – the link above is Version 1.0. You can get Version 2.0 from the Free Planners Page here: //productiveflourishing.com/free-planners/
~ Michelle (Team PF)
I think the same way you felt about dave’s when you used it is how i feel about this system. there are a lot of parts to it and like you its probably the operator at fault. i wonder if there is a youtube video of someone demonstrating how to use your planning sheets? thanks again
Charlie Gilkey says
I so get where you’re coming from, DN! You might like Carie Harling’s video here, and John Corcoran has another here. I hope these help.
Jennifer Rose says
This is an excellent planner! Thanks for creating it and sharing for free! 🙂
Is this available in hard copy? I like having a binded book
Jess Sommers says
Hi Jennifer — this is a digital download that is editable on your desktop or laptop computer. We do not sell hard copies.