To succeed in life, we must have an organized and well-planned life. Everyone says that; it is easy to say but the bigger question is, how to achieve that? Well, the new year is near. Read on, if you want to start with this practical and straightforward system; Life PowerUser Organizer or LiPO.
In this note, we will see a practical example. How I’m backed by LiPO while trying to become more productive (Life PowerUser). I call it Life PowerUser Organizer. In short, I call it LiPU Organizer or LiPO, further shorter. It is a system that I’m using for 15 years. Over time, made a lot of changes to it to make it simpler, more effective and fit my personal requirements.
Basic rules for LiPO
Whenever we make a system or process, we first set some most basic rules. These rules must not be violated in any condition. I also set up some unspoken/unwritten rules when I first started using this system in 2007. Although I simply call it dairy at that time. The rules are:
1. It must be a cheap system so that I (or anyone) can afford it
Well, I was not having a handsome salary back in 2007. I didn’t have a single penny to waste on anything not necessary.
I could actually invest a bit in LiPO in 2023, but the basic principle is still the same. Don’t invest a lot just to organize.
Ideally speaking, it took just less than ₹500/year (US $6/year) for me in mandatory expenses (dairy and pen). However, it could also be as low as ₹100/year (<US $1.5/year)
Ideally, we just need a dairy and a pen.
2. It must be a simple system.
Simple is better. An organizer must be simple to practically use in the real life.
We already have a lot of complexities in our life. We want to solve them, not add one more to the list. The organization should not become one extra task in an already busy life. 5-10 minutes must be enough on a busy day. (On free days, you can spend more to better organize your life)
3. Nothing fancy
This is a very important rule and must be followed. As soon as we start making our organizer/diary/journal fancy, our focus changes to something not important or delivers any value.
Well, unless you want limelight showcasing it. This fits well for YouTubers displaying it but not for the general public. A vast majority of us need some simple and workable solution.
I know there are a few people that may disagree, and I respect them, but it does not fit me. My LiPO is only for me, not to showcase to anyone. I personally need a solid system that works for me in every situation, not a fancy one to impress someone.
This is one aspect that makes me feel BuJo is not for me. In most of the videos, I saw on the internet, people are spending hours making their BuJo fancy. No disrespect for them but it simply does not fit in my lifestyle or way of working.
4. Everything has one specific purpose, and it must be used for that purpose only.
I am a programmer and one of the most basic principles of Programming is the SOLID principle. S in SOLID stands for the Single responsibility principle. It says one piece of code must have one and only one responsibility. I apply that principle not only in programming but also in real life.
It also translates to, do not overcomplicate things, simple is better.
RULE: With the above points in mind, LiPO is only for the organization.
- It has supporting companions where other responsibilities are delegated, we will see that as well.
- It follows O (Open for extension, close for modification) and D (Dependency inversion principle) of SOLID principles. I strongly believe SOLID applies not only in programming but also in the real life.
5. Digital is good but does not fit everywhere.
This rule has been added to LiPO recently (3-4 years back).
Nowadays, there are many mobile or web applications, with very fancy (and obviously effective) UI. I also use them, no complaints. But over the years, I learned, it is not always trustworthy. I’ll stop here as this topic is highly dependent on personal preference.
I personally use a lot of web/mobile productivity and note taking apps, which we will discuss. However, they are just companions to LiPO. I do not want to over-depend on them, especially the free services.
Life PowerUser Organizer (LiPO) prerequisite.
We will need a dairy. You can purchase it from the market or make your own in a simple copy.
I personally prefer to purchase a dairy so that I can save time. However, the dairy I purchase must have the following properties:
- It must have nearly A4 size paper.
- A4 is the paper size of printer papers in India.
- Dairy is slightly smaller than that but hopes you got an idea.
- My dairy (LiPO) is a big page dairy, nearly equal to A4 paper size.
- The costly organizers (roughly A5 or A6 size won’t work for LiPO. They are also fancy and costly so breaks my first (Should be a cheap solution) and third (Not fancy) rule.
- It must have a full page for Sunday.
- Most dairy I find has Saturday and Sunday on the same page.
- Most of us work in the office from Monday-Friday. We have the weekend for ourselves. This is a crucial time to invest in our progress. There must be a lot of things to do for personal life over the weekend. So the weekend counts and it can’t fit on one page.
- It must have 30 lines on a page.
- Well, it is as per my requirements. It may be different for you.
- I basically track my day from 9 am to midnight. This means 15 hours. One line on my LiPO represents 30 minutes. So I need 15 * 2 = 30 lines.
- It must have 3 years calendar. If LiPO is for 2023, it must have a calendar for 2022, 2023, and 2024. we will soon see why?
- It must have a yearly planner (to record birthdays there)
- It must have a monthly calendar/planner (to record important monthly glances at important dates)
- On every page, it should have a calendar for the current and next month. (Needed for future planning during meetings, it’s handy to have 2 month’s calendars on the same page)
- It must have no time printed on the page. If printed, it must be 9 am to midnight. That does not happen so I prefer no time printed at all and make it myself.
- Must have space between two pages near the binding, where we can write hours (9:00-00:00).
Please note, I’ve got the above requirements just to save time. Ideally, you can make a LiPO in a simple student’s long notebook, which is cheaply available.
Assuming you have a dairy with the above requirements. Let’s jump into how to organize our days over a calendar year in it.
How do I design my Life PowerUser Organizer (LiPO)?
Let’s see how to use different pages of LiPO.
I prefer to have a dairy with a three-year calendar. For example, in 2023, it must have a calendar of 2022, 2023, and 2024. This is very helpful while discussing long-term planning.
I hope everyone can understand the use of the current year.
The previous year is useful while doing a postmortem of a long-term project. It is also helpful to quickly get some previous events. It is most useful during the first few months of the year.
The next year is generally useful during the last few months of the year. It helps us decide on deadlines for some of the long-term projects.
We generally get it in all the dairies, so let’s make use of it.
On the yearly planner, we have the whole year on two pages. That means one day is just big enough to write a name.
Obviously, we can use it as a birthday and anniversary calendar. Wow! I’ll never forget someone’s birthday in future.
We generally get a monthly planner for every month. It is on one full page, before the month start.
We can write more than a word but it is still a smaller section. So we can use it to mark some important dates like birthdays, travel plans, important events, holidays, planned leave of your team in office etc.
Yes, we write birthdays on the monthly planner as well. A yearly planner is good when we are specifically looking for birthdays. On the other hand, we see monthly planners nearly every day. It helps us quickly see what is coming in the next few days.
Daily Planner or Life PowerUser Organizer (LiPO)
While calendars and planners are helpful, the daily planner is the real Life PowerUser Organizer (LiPO).
Before we understand LiPO, we must understand some of the principles, taken from different books. LiPO used these principles to effectively organize our day.
The first principle is the 4 Quadrant method.
How to use quadrants in the Life PowerUser Organizer (LiPO)
I extensively use the 4 quadrants method in LiPO. Earlier, till 2013, I used to really divide the daily planner page into 4 quadrants.
However, it wastes a lot of space. Once I start managing multiple projects and teams, I needed to organize my day better. This forced me to reorganize my planner page, very similar to the one today.
An example of my personal Life PowerUser Organizer (LiPO) is given below
Planning day’s tasks
In the above image, check the right page. You may see it has been divided in 5 parts. Let’s discuss those 5 parts:
- The top section, besides the date box, is the place for important things of the day. It could be some birthday or festival or some important bill payment to b done.
- On the last line, we may write The One Thing (TOT) of the day.
- The next section, quadrant 1 is for Urgent and Important tasks. We number them 1-3 in LiPO. Yes, it has just 3 lines. If you are tracking your tasks daily, there won’t be more than 3 urgent and important tasks. Still, if you have more than 3, think again, are they really urgent and important?
- The next section, quadrant 2, is also having 3 tasks, numbered 4-6. This is the section for important tasks.
- The fourth section is quadrant 3, urgent but not important tasks. Let’s keep place for 6 tasks here, 7-12. Just put it here and see if we can do it?
- The last section is having the remaining page. Nope, this is not quadrant 4. It is an area to scratch down anything we nee during the day, including the black hole (quadrant 4).
This majority of our page is a task list, properly organized. It also have small area for taking some quick notes.
Many of us must have used the calendar. It could be outlook, Google calendar or something else. I also use it. It is a good way of planning.
We have a list of tasks. The next question is, which task should be done at what time of the day? We need to plan it and strictly stuck to that plan. This is where the calendar comes into the picture.
You may wonder if we have a very little area to write tasks on our calendars. This is where reference (task number) comes into the picture. As you may see on the left page, I’ve written word tasks like ‘Lunch’ directly but for other tasks, I used the task number.
You may also see some vertical lines. This is my focus time. We block focus time only for quadrant 1 and 2 tasks. As we reach that time, we write down the number of that task on the calendar.
This article has grown too long. We have seen some basic rules and how Lipo is organized.
However, this is just a start. There is a lot to make this simple organizer an effective one. We also discussed about delegation and companions but could not see them in detail.
We will discuss them in much detail in the next article, LiPO companions.
In the meantime, please use the comments below and let me know if you have any questions or some possible improvements to the Life PowerUser Organizer (LiPO).