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The Weekly Productivity Planner 1.0: Comments on a Bad Design
UPDATE: The new design for the Weekly Productivity Planner is Out! Hooray! Pick it up here: [download#4]
Sometimes the best thing to do as a designer is to recognize and admit that one of your designs is flawed. The Weekly Productivity Planner is flawed.
I'll tell you what I was trying to do, how it passed the review process, and why it's flawed.
All of my planners have a few common themes. The first theme is that they are driven first by your productive capacity. The basic idea here is that there are some blocks of time in which your ability to be productive is much higher than others. So I tried to capture that.
The second related theme is that productive capacity comes in more or less regular intervals. In How Heatmapping Your Productivity Makes You More Productive, I presented time as a circle. For presentation purposes, I needed to switch back to something more intuitive in the Daily Productivity Planner (DPP) and Weekly Productivity Planner (WPP). The theme is still there - it's just presented differently.
The last theme that runs throughout the planners is that I design them based on a need. Traditional planners don't work for me, so what I do is go back and redesign ones that do better for me and then offer them to you all. What I normally do is use the design for a little bit to work on the flaws before I put it out. While what works for me may not work for you, I know that a bad design won't work well for anyone.
In my excitement to show the design and get it out, I didn't use it "in the field." Had I done so, I would've caught some of the glaring flaws.
What's wrong with it, then?
It tries to do too much.
One of the overriding themes I'd like my planners to have is simplicity and focus. I definitely broke that in the WPP. The WPP was meant to be a weekly dashboard that allows you to focus on the things to do that week and then incorporate those things into the DPP. Instead, I ended up presenting the same information that would show up in the DPP.
In my discussion of the principles of time management systems, I wrote about the principles of simplicity and cohesiveness. In the case of the WPP, I broke simplicity for cohesiveness. Just an example of how the different principles can be in conflict with each other.
The new planner will be more focused on the weekly perspective, which means a lot of it will go. The information will be split correctly between the DPP and the Monthly Productivity Planner, which should be out in the next couple of weeks. I'll need to design the WPP and the Monthly Productivity Planner in concert so that I get it right.
It doesn't give enough space to write
In the past, I've measured my actual writing space requirements and used those to set the length for the blocks in the planner. I didn't do that this time around, and ended up with a planner that you can't write in. I jammed too much information into the WPP, which makes my spacing messed up, with the result that the blocks are to small.
Using the principles I've highlighted above, I broke usefulness for cohesiveness. Yet another example of the principles in conflict.
The Daily Heatmap is out of context
I included the heatmap on the WPP because I thought it was relevant information for the planning process. Turns out, it's relevant for the DPP, but not for the WPP. It'll be removed - whether I can get it in the DPP is undetermined. What I have been considering is weekly cycles of productivity. My week goes in cycles, as well - but it's harder to see the trends in weeks than it is to see the trends in days. Perhaps an even better reason to have an aid that helps track it, no? The trouble is to get that into an intuitive form that presents it rhythmically. But yes, I'm working on that, too.
If you'd like to speed up any of these projects, please leave a comment indicating what you'd like to see. But, for now, the Weekly Productivity Planner is banished to the Isle of Misfit Forms.
To keep track of my productivity creations (good and bad, but hopefully more good than bad), please consider subscribing to my feed. A comment or a share would be great, too. Thanks for hanging out in my virtual workshop - leave the door open behind you!