In my quest for efficiency, better time management and epic levels of productivity, I’m switching things up in 2024.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, after all. I’ve recently had the sneaking suspicion that I’ve been duplicating work in my tracking and planning efforts and that I could streamline the process. There’s no point wasting time duplicating effort and work if I could better spend that time elsewhere.
I’ve been quietly preparing and plotting for 2024 since mid-November, and I think I’m ready for a big change.
The Big Change
I’m going to have four 12-week years in 2024. (Why yes, I have just read The Twelve Week Year after hearing it recommended on a podcast.) I’m keen to see if having four “mini-years” in 2024 will make me more productive. It will certainly make me more flexible, which can only be good. So often, I find goals and targets decided in January are no longer relevant in December.
The gap week between “years” will allow me to reassess my progress and ensure I am still heading in the right direction. There’s nothing wrong with changing course or destination as long as you do it intentionally.
My Digital & Analogue Tools
I use a lot of digital tools to manage my to-do lists and calendars. Reminders, Due and Calendar will remain my go-to tools. This part of my toolset is working well, and I see no reason to change it.
I also love analogue planning and time-tracking tools. (Long-time readers will know my enduring—perhaps deviant—love of notebooks and pencils.) However, I think I am using too many of them. At the moment, I have:
- An A5 Lochby planner book.
- An A5 Lochby dot grid quasi-bullet journal book.
- A “walking about” pocket journal.
- A desk pad for making lists, jotting down quick notes and so on.
That’s a lot of notebooks just to get my work done. It’s a bloated system.
How many notebooks (and accessories) does one man need?
The Big Question
Can I make my system better by reducing its components?
The Big Answer
I was given a marvellous selection of Field Notes for Christmas, which got me thinking about how I could/should use them.
(As an aside, I have to get better at actually using my notebooks and break myself of the habit of “saving them” for something worthy.) Richard Green (I knew him before he was famous) has given me a spot of inspiration here—he did the whole Dungeon23 challenge in two Field Notes. More on that another time.
My plan is to reduce my notebook system to this:
- A Field Notes monthly bullet journal and planner (a Pitch Black dot grid notebook normally, but I have one of the Snowflake books left, and it seems sensible to use that in January). This book will replace my monthly planner book and quasi-bullet journal. I’ll have a new book every month. Effectively, this is my one monthly notebook to rule them all notebook.
- A Field Notes design book. What’s that? Read on.
The Design Book
For my bullet journal, I’m a dot grid man, but these lined Field Notes give me an opportunity to do something different.
So, what am I doing with my Design Book?
Every day, I’ll start a new page, and every day, I’ll start designing something new—perhaps a tavern, an interesting NPC or a magic item. Because I’m doing a design-to-a-page, I can easily leaf back through the book and revisit each new thing as inspiration strikes. I’ll use this to add things to my Edgelands of Darkness campaign along with official Raging Swan Press products.
I’m looking forward to this process. I’m hoping to revisit many of the entries as 2024 progresses. I’ll add, remove and change details as I see fit.
One of the challenges I face is keeping track of all my ideas and quasi-designed things. With a profusion of apps and notebooks, I’m often left wondering where I designed or stored a certain thing, idea, text fragment or whatever. I’ll be blogging about this process more in the future, but, in summary, at the moment, I use too many apps and notebooks, and I have no defined plan as to what goes where. Is the thing in iA Writer, Notion, Tot, Apple Notes or Obsidian? (Or maybe it is hidden somewhere in one of my old notebooks or bullet journals.)
In 2024, the raw bones of the design will be in a Field Notes journal. It will then go elsewhere, and that’s a subject for another post.
I’m looking forward to working better and smarter in 2024. I’m also looking forward to way better organisation. I have several personal challenges stampeding toward me (for example, we have just welcomed a new puppy into the family, and we have building work starting upstairs in a week or two) this year. I don’t want to waste time. I can’t waste time. I’m confident a new puppy will impact how much time I have for work throughout my first (and probably second) year in 2024. Thus, what worked in 2023 will not necessarily work in 2024.
I think I’m ready. Let’s find out.
Creighton is the Publisher of Useful Items at Raging Swan Press. He lives on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity and is not planning to voyage far.