A common question that people have about the Daily Momentum Planner is what the four little numbered boxes in the Supporting Tasks and Emergent Tasks sections are supposed to be used for. So everyone’s in the loop, here’s what we’re talking about (Emergent Tasks box is not shown here):
The Original Intention of the Four Boxes
The design of the Daily Momentum Planner has at its foundation the idea that we’re more productive or creative at certain times of the day, and working on the right thing when we have the right type of energy is a rock-solid way to become more productive. I discussed this concept in How Heat-Mapping Your Productivity Can Make You More Productive and created an aid (the Productivity Heat-Map) to help our readers figure out when those energy cycles happen.
The original design of the Daily Momentum Planner had those boxes colored to match the colors used in the post on heat-mapping, but it later occurred to me that we could make those boxes black and white so they would be universal, working equally well for people who print in color and those who print only in black and white. I printed the planners on a monochrome laser printer, so the colored boxes bugged me. And because cost estimates for the printed planners were much higher with color, it made sense to switch to black and white when we prepared to release the printed versions of the planners.
So the boxes’ intended use was to indicate what type of energy a given task required (1 = highest) in the Supporting Tasks and Emergent Tasks blocks. For example, if you’ve got Level 1 energy at 8 a.m., you can simply match the tasks that require Level 1 energy with that time; then, if you follow your plan, you’re working on the right things at the right times.
How Our Customers Actually Use the Four Boxes
The funnest part of creating and sharing the planners is hearing about how people are using them. When we changed the design to black and white, users started writing about how they used the boxes differently. I designed the planners to encourage flexibility and adaptability, so I love seeing how people make them their own.
Here are some other ways that people are using those boxes:
- The numbers indicate priorities, with 1 being the highest priority.
- The numbers indicate how much people want to do those tasks, with 1 being the things they most want to do. This system helps them handle their daily frogs.
- The numbers correspond to Covey’s Time Management Matrix.
When people write about their uses for the boxes, those uses always seem so obvious to me that I wonder why I didn’t think of them. I particularly like #3, though, as that is a particularly inventive way to synthesize a few frameworks into one aid.
There’s No Right Way
As I always say about the planners, there’s no one right way to use those blocks. I’ve shared a few ways above, but I’m sure you’ll come up with your own. The goal of the planners is not for you to do things the way I do things just because they’re the way I do them, but to use the planners to do things the way that works best for you.
Which also means that if thinking about those four little boxes sends you into a tailspin, don’t think about them.
Use the parts of your planner that work for you.
The Series Work Together
One more thing: The flexibility of the Daily Momentum Planner is why many of our planner users use the Daily Momentum Planner with the Weekly Project Planner. The consistent feedback we get is that people use the Monthly Momentum Planner to help them get a view of the month, the Weekly Project Planner to help them build their project dashboard for the week, and the Daily Momentum Planner to work on the right things at the right times during the day. While I designed the Monthly Momentum Planner to mate with either of the series equally well – at that level of planning perspective, the differences between the Momentum Series and the Project Series don’t matter – I didn’t think people would use the series that way. As with the various uses of the little boxes, it becomes obvious why that’s such a good combination that works for so many people.
Which way of using the boxes on the Daily Momentum Planner resonates best with you? Do you use them in a different way?