How Do You Start Your Day?

How Do You Start Your Day?

So I’m running through Menu of the Day and am realizing how out-of-touch I am with some of my process. There are some interesting things I’m already noticing:

  • Schedule Grid is a convenient note-taking area…needs to be bigger. And the damn grid dots need to be aligned better! Some useful emergent task notation happens here too.

  • As an emergent PLANNING tool, though, this isn’t working for me. I ran right back to TextPad and made my simplified ToDo list. What’s interesting, though, is that the PROCESS was to list things I needed to do, group the related tasks together, then make a guess at how much time it would take to tackle is task group. The Schedule Grid, though, helps get a sense of the amount of time in ways I didn’t expect…cool!

  • The best way to execute this form, I’m increasingly thinking, is as a smart scheduler / outliner software tool, combining elements of a “thought processor” with tracking and reporting.


p>Out of curiosity, I’m wondering if anyone out there is willing to share what they’re doing today in this post’s comment area, describing the steps taken to get the ball moving. I think everyone will find it interesting, and it might give me some insight into why this form isn’t working right. Thanks!


  1. Daren Lewis 17 years ago

    I put together some elements of the Menu of the Day with the Emergent Task Tracker so I’ve got both planning and tracking on a single sheet. Seems to work better than running two seperate sheets and doing double entry. I started with seperate plan and track sections on a single page and then I consolidated the plan and track segments into a single line.

    This approach didn’t leave room for any kind of daily assesment, but it easier to work with a second sheet at the end of the day. Maybe the assesment sheet can be weekly a section to fill out each day and a weekly sum.


  2. Rick Fenster 17 years ago

    Well, for me: I know this is how it goes. If I need to do something right away, it has to be highly urgent. As I’m a student, it would be printing out an assignment in the morning before I leave. Aside from that it’s pretty much a it come to me mentality. I feel the same way as you reverting back to do lists, which is why I couldn’t quite use the PCEO for what I was hoping to.


  3. Rick Allen 17 years ago

    First off – I check the printable CEO RSS in my firefox browser at the start of every day :-)

    I’ve been trying different CEO forms with varying success for the last half year and the form that works best for me is the TPT.

    I’m a knowledge worker and my worst enemy is distractions so just pulling the sheet off the wall and putting it next to my keyboard is enough to focus my attention and keep it there. What is important is being able to create sub-tasks (difficult to forsee in advance) and many of these turn out be be one-bubble tasks so the amount of space on the right is too extravagent. I often put several subtasks on one line and cross them out instead of ticking the box.

    I’m pretty good at identifying processes so that’s not an issue at the moment. Sticking to a regime or planning the day is beyond me, though :-(

  4. Dave Seah 17 years ago

    Daren: That’s a great idea! I like the “moment to moment” focus of the ETT, and having some idea of what you need to do during the day as a reminder on the same sheet is great…I found myself doing that with the current MotD form. I was thinking that I should move the assessment off onto another sheet, as it is a different mindset…end of day would probably be perfect.

    RickF: So I’m hearing that there are “critical right now” things to do, and those are what are really important to NOT forget. I think I like the ToDo lists because they’re very fast and basically act as external memory, and you can relax because you know you have it written down.

    RickA: Sticking to a regimen / planning the day is beyond me as well…which is why I keep trying new things. It occurs to me that maybe we’re looking in the wrong place. It’s interesting to know that the TPT has too MANY bubbles for most of your tasks. Good to know!

  5. Rick Allen 17 years ago

    Hi Dave,
    There are too many bubbles because I leave plenty of blank lines to create subtasks and I only pop the bubbles for subtasks. Not sure if that’s the best approach – but even a tiny subtask like ‘contact joan for feedback’ can turn into a bit of an odyssey in itself. I know it has to be done, but I don’t know if it will take 3 minutes that moment or involves all sorts of chasing up.

  6. y0mbo 17 years ago

    I have been starting each day with a blank sheet of notebook paper and writing the top 10 or so things I’d like to accomplish today.  When I write them down, I assign them a CGT point value.

    Throughout the day, as I accomplish things, I write them down on the CGT sheet, again with point value.  If its one of the items on the notebook list, it gets crossed off.

    At the end of the day I fill in the bubbles on the CGT and total up the score.

    Items I haven’t gotten done usually get added to the next day’s todo list, but this morning I realized there were several things that have fallen off the radar.  I’m looking back at Backpack and/or tasktoy and/or notepad for keeping a master to do list.  None of these tools work the way I want them to, though.  Someday I’ll just have to write my own, I guess.

  7. Rick Fenster 17 years ago

    Yes, Dave – That is basically it. I think you should make some sort of todo list interfaced form for the PCEO and certain objects should be marked as a priority. as y0mbo has stated [It’s freakin’ brilliant, y0mbo…] then they should equate to based on their priority to CGT points. I think that could help you out, Dave as long with the rest of us.

  8. Nick 17 years ago

    I have to admit I’m not currently using any of the printable ceo forms. I have tried both the printable and flash version of the emergent task timer, but find it difficult to get into a routine to keep it updated. Perhaps I need to re-read Scott Young’s series on Habitual Mastery

    My current approach is to collect everything I’m working on in My Life Organized (Windows GTD app).

    At the start of the day I scan through the list of tasks I have, broken down into long and short-term projects, and write down what I will be focusing on today onto an index card.

    This is something small I can put next to the keyboard and cross off tasks as they’re completed. Every few days I’ll go through my master list in MLO and cross off what I’ve completed.

    As a suggestion, perhaps you could come up with some printable CEO forms sized for Index cards?

  9. Josh Adams 17 years ago

    Self-employed / work-from-home / master’s program, just fyi…ymmv

    1) Shower/dress
    2) Read e-mail, RSS feeds (hurrah as a wind-up period
    3) Look at 2×3(-ish) whiteboard for anything that seems overly urgent…if nothing jumps out, grab some food.
    4) Make sure I’m set for the next day’s classes (consists of reading the same whiteboard)
    5) Add things to the whiteboard that must be done today (there are also spots for month and next seven days)
    6) Relax, and do the things I’ve got to.

  10. Mark Patterson 17 years ago

    First of all, I love the PCEO materials you compiled. The design is awesome. I am currently reviewing it to see what parts make sense to use and when. Since I am “corporate” and not a freelancer, the CGT goals are different—but I am not sure how exactly yet. The 10 spots will be activities that directly forward our measurable strategic goals, and/or directly help a customer. The others are more fuzzy. When I get it taped, I will try it out in my daily routine.

    I am using the ETT currently, and will continue to use it since my day is crazy (I used to code, but now I manage. The days of being hours “in the zone” are over, alas). So I use the ETT to tell me “What the hell happened to the day?” and also “I just filled a bubble doing something completely unproductive. Stop it!” I use the ETT on-line version as a timer, but use the paper version to fill out.

    I use MindJet’s Mindmanager. MindManager is an indispensible tool for me, and they just released a version for the Mac. I have a “map” of all tasks that I need to do, mapped into categories, like “Projects,” “Administration.” I prioritize the major tasks, into 1, 2, 3 and no priority. 1s need to be done now. 2s, soon. 3s ASAP. The rest eventually. This is my “Cycles of Action” map.

    The reason I use a map instead of a task list or use “tasks” in a PIM, is because of the sheer number (80-100+), the fact that MindMapper puts them on one page, and allows me to categorize and re-categoize them easily. I can also assign priorities and notes and dates, etc. It is my personal big picture.

    (Note: I also have maps for each of the projects that are active in my group, and one “Big Picture” map of the major goal initiatives for the year.)

    From the current Cycles of Action map, I run the tasks for my day, interspersed with tons of interruptions and meetings. That is why I like the ETT—since I can see what happened to my beautifully planned priorities!

    So, in the AM, I:

    Start a new ETT.

    Review my Cycles of Action map, add/update as needed, prioritize, and start.

    Sometimes, I will review news sites and emails, but I have been doing less of the news, since that is not a revenue-enhancing activity. There is a fine line between having breaking essential news and just reading about stuff that is “interesting” but does not matter. Same (to a lesser degree) with email. Most of my email is stuff I need to look into, but I have friends/family who send the latest stupid video, too. Again, the ETT adds enough guilt to keep me on task.

    I am looking into the TPT for specific work on specific projects (which come from the CofA and/or Projects map), and I love the idea of the Task Order Up – we’ll see where that goes. I may end up using TOU for items off my Cycles of Action map, and then file them in the appropriate project folder. FYI, I have currently 10+ active projects that I touch in any given day.

    I started looking at the PCEO stuff only on Monday, so this is new to me—but it is good stuff. Thanks.