First of all, I am going to apologise for not posting content the past two weeks. The first week, I was struggling to combine both this and then my normal job, after 2 weeks of holiday. And the past week, I have had to deal with some personal issues, that I am not going to discuss, but it was hard for me to do anything basically.
Before this happened, I had done a little organisation session and figured out my “new” way of planning and time management, and also did some long-term planning. Today, I will walk you through the planning process, the “Medium Method” (that I also have used in the past).
At the beginning of 2019, I found this productivity system that’s a mix of digital and paper-based planning. I have always thought that the combo is the best way for me, so this seemed perfect. That night I printed out the article about the method and highlighted the stuff that stood out to me the most. I knew I probably wasn’t going to copy the exact same thing, which is definitely not necessary anyway.
I started using it the following day, and recognised that it did a lot of good for me. Why I fell off the bandwagon? I don’t exactly know, maybe it was partly to blame on filling up the notebook, right when I was transitioning into life with both work and internship, instead of just work.
What is the Medium Method?
As the writer of the aforementioned article describes it: “The simple method is meant as a starting point for merging paper and digital into your workflow to capture all of the benefits of both.”
Paper-based planning has, of course, different advantages than digital planning. The writer sets out the main advantages for both and I totally agree with them. The main one’s being that paper-based planning cuts out any distractions and it helps us learn (LOTS of research has shown that writing stuff down helps us memorise it better). For me, the main advantages of digital planning are that it can easily be organised and reorganised however and whenever you want, and that you can take it anywhere on any device (depending on the software you’re using of course).
To set up this method for yourself, I suggest you take the following:
This could be any notebook, but I prefer an A5-size. For the moment, I am using a Leuchtturm1917 A5-sized notebook, with dot grid paper. But really, use anything you want, as long as it is paper bind up together.
This notebook will serve as your main paper-based tool. Anything and everything that comes up in your mind that you want to have a record of, you put in here. Whether that’s a task, a random thought, a quote or a note about something you’ve read. Just whatever you think is useful to have written down somewhere.
Have the notebook open next to you (if possible) at your work space, so that it’s easy to go back to and record that note or scribble. You don’t have to stick to any format. The only format I have, is just writing the date down at the top of the first page of the day, and then I’m just free to do whatever. If it’s not a waste of paper, I start a new day always on a new page, just to have that clear distinction. Oh, and I highlight the date, just to make it even more clear that it’s a new page.
Whenever I am doing research on something, I will write the main topic down, underline and highlight it, just as an indication that it’s gonna be a lot of notes about this specific topic.
This could also be any notebook, but it’s easier if it’s an A6-sized notebook. This size can easily fit into a bag or whatever without taking up too much space. The purpose of this notebook is the same as the main notebook, but just for on the go.
Now, the creator of this method actually transfers everything from the travel notebook to the main notebook. I haven’t really seen the point in doing that. Except for when it’s a note that I want to expand on, then I will also write it down in my main notebook.
I’ll tell you why I don’t see the purpose, in a bit.
Oh how I love these things. I’ve got a million of them around the house, but rarely use them to be honest. Another reason why I love this method, it makes me use all the stationery I have.
Every day, I use a new post-it note and on it, I will write: my appointments and events for the day (time and/or day specific things) and then my 3 most important tasks (MITs) of the day. The tasks that I have to do that day, no excuses. This is pretty useful for me, in the sense that the only deadlines I currently have are only the one’s that I have given myself. Without any discipline, it’s really easy to procrastinate and postpone things. Having these 3 tasks on a separate piece of bright-coloured paper every day, really helps me focus on these things.
Any task manager will do, but Todoist has proven me time and time again that it’s one of the best ones in its niche. And I always come back to it. The reason for this tool is pretty self-explanatory. It will be your task database. Any tasks that you have written down in your main/travel notebook will eventually find a place in your task manager. And those 3 MITs from your post-it note will copied out of this system, onto paper.
Of course, you can also immediately put the tasks that you think of straight into your task manager of choice. Maybe writing them down and then typing it over later seems a bit redundant. But maybe when you’re in the zone and don’t want to open up another app on your computer or phone, or you’d rather not touch your devices at all, writing the tasks in your notebook down first, helps you take care of that problem.
Now, searching in all your notebooks over the years for that one thing that you need ASAP, but you don’t remember when you wrote. That has to be one of the most annoying things about paper-based planning and note-taking. Now, if you just make a habit of copying everything from your notebook into a note-taking app, in which you can search for any words, that would solve the problem right? Exactly.
I have been trying out the Roam Research app, and the amazing thing is; it makes a daily note automatically, every time you log into the app and then you can immediately start typing. I haven’t used the app extensive enough to actually appreciate all its value. But I can definitely see why so many people are hyped about this app. The main thing that I like so far is that you can easily link pages with each other and make a database around different topics. I am going to be playing with this app a lot more in the upcoming months and will definitely make a review, either as a blogpost or a video.
The creator of this method uses OneNote and he keeps all notes for one day in the same page. So the notes for July 17 go all onto one page, doesn’t matter the year. I think this is a fun idea, because every time you start transferring your notes of the day, you will see exactly what was on your mind the year(s) before. I think, with Roam Research, it’s also really easy to do this, but I guess I will figure this out once I have actually started using it for a full year.
This is also the reason why I don’t copy everything from my travel notebook into my main notebook, as I will have everything together digitally anyway. Plus, I feel like if I know that I wrote something down while on the go, it might spark some memory of where I was at that moment.
A day with the Medium Method
As I mentioned, I write down the date at the top of the next fresh page and then just start writing whenever there’s something I want to have on record. The night before, I went through my Todoist and found the 3 MITs that I want to complete. I do this the night before, so that I wake up with a game plan, which makes it a lot easier for me to actually get started. If I leave the house, I take the travel notebook and treat it the same way as my main notebook.
At the end of the day, I go to Todoist and copy any task that I haven’t yet completed since writing it down. I try to attach as much information to it as possible, i.e. due date, labels, any extra info I need in the comments, etc. Then I open Roam Research and copy everything from the notebooks. Sometimes, I don’t have the time to do this at the end of the day, and I will make a reminder that I will do this at the end of the week. Then I take a post-it note again and write down my 3 MITs for the next day. And the routine repeats itself again.
I hope this has been useful for you in one way or another. The last part, I can also break down with my weekly planning routine that I am trying to uphold. And then I also thought that I could do a “productive day in my life”-vlog sometime soon, and actually show you the method in action. Let me know if that would be something you’re interested in.
Also, read my other post on productivity: 5 Hacks that will improve your productivity immediately!
Thank you for your patience with me not posting, but I hope this long post made up for it!