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Planning in Your Inbox?

Aug 3, 2016

I talked about why the Hobonichi Techo doesn’t work for me and that I use pen and paper to plan:

[…] the development of long term plans still happens on paper and oftentimes I copy appointments from my calendar into my notebook and mix them with tasks to plan the day.

That got me thinking about how differently I use certain tools (Google Calendar in this case) and my pocket notebooks. The processes of making appointments, shuffling them around and writing them down to remember doesn’t involve much thought, neither creative thought nor reasoning why the appointment is there and why I should keep it. It’s just filing. My calendar is an inbox, not a planning tool. The same goes for my email account. Things arrive but are not integrated into my day, my life and not necessarily affiliated with my long term plans and goals. That is why “living in my inbox” and giving the attention to each newly arrived item that my smartphone notification seems to demand is dangerous.

In order to make calendars, to-do lists, email accounts and other types of inboxes (even notebooks if I use them as inboxes) useful to my life, extra steps have to be taken. Here we arrive in the area of real planning, which involves not only the question of where things should go, but why they should go there. Is this task, appointment or email important to my life? If so, how important is it? Can it wait? What do I have to do in order to achieve my long term goals? What is the initiative I personally have to take? These questions can’t be answered with a few clicks, they are deeply personal and demand a flexible tool to handle them. This tool is my notebook, which is where the thinking starts.

I maybe should have tried to integrate the Hobonichi deeper into my planning, instead of trying to replace my inbox with it. For planning however I prefer a more flexible form than a page per day.

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