The Middle Way Method of personal planning

Jordan McGilvray has noticed that organizational systems fall into either a “top-down” (Franklin Covey) or “bottom-up” (Getting Things Done) model. He’s picked the parts of various systems that work for him and created the Middle Way Method. He says it provides “a balance between the important things of life and the daily grind.”

According to McGilvray, top-down planning starts with knowing who you are and working from there to become who you want to be. Bottom-up planning clears all of the “stuff” in your life first and then processes it to make sure you remember it all.

His own mash-up of these opposing world views is a just-right solution. He starts with the creation of a personal mission and vision statement and then describes very simple weekly or daily check-ins that support these intentions.

Jordan’s system is easy and unobtrusive, and it makes intention and focus a lot easier. Here are some of his notes about weekly and daily practices:

Weekly Reviews
During the weekly review, you will spend time reviewing your mission and vision statements, past week, current roles (family relationships, work relationships, friendships, and self), goals, and your action items or to-do lists.

Mission and Vision Statement Review
First, read over and think about your mission and vision statements. Do they still inspire you? Do they still feel true to you and what you want to accomplish? If so great, if not take some time now, and revise them. Keep the mission and vision accurate, inspiring, and right for you.

Past Week Review
The next step is to review your previous week. What goals did you achieve? What goals did you not achieve? Why did you succeed or fail? What were your challenges? How did you overcome them? Why did they overcome you? This is a great way to keep a weekly journal. You can then go back, and look at your life again, and see how far you have come and reflect on what you’ve done and make any adjustments you may need for the upcoming week.

Review and Select Your Roles
Decide on which roles, you will act on for the coming week. Roles can include Husband/Wife, Father/Mother, Boyfriend/Girlfriend, Partner, Friend, Son/Daughter, Employer/Employee. I recommend that you do not confine your roles to this list, because you may have unique roles that you may want to include on this list. Write down your roles on a piece of paper.

Identify Weekly Goals
Now you’ll identify any Physical, Mental, Spiritual, or Social goals you may have. What goals do you have set to accomplish for the week? Record these in your system for the coming week. I suggest setting at least one goal in each area, even if it is small, and easily done. This will help you to find balance in your life.

Process In-boxes
Like in Getting Things Done gather all of your loose papers, notes, what is in your head, on your lists, on your calendars, your Action, or To-Do items, and process your in-boxes. At this point who you are, and who you want to become should be fresh on your mind. This helps us determine if something in an inbox is important, or not.

Review and Create Projects
At this point, you have a good idea of what is going on for the week. Now with all of our “stuff” out in front of us, organize, create, update and delete any projects. This will let you know how you are progressing on any long term, or multi-step projects.

Select Actions for the Week
Now that you know what roles, personal goals, projects, and actions for the coming week record those in your system.

Daily Reviews
Use the time in your daily reviews, to look over your calendar and incorporate any incomplete action items for the week. Next prioritize action items for the day, and make plans to achieve them. Some people will prefer to do this step at night for the next day, and some will prefer to accomplish this at the start of the day. I believe that this is a place where personal preference is necessary. The key to the daily review being successful, is to have a quiet place and time you can think, and feel about the next day you are planning. I suggest trying multiple times/places, to find the best place and time for you.

Preview Calendars
Use this daily review session to focus on your calendar. Review the appointments, meetings, and activities you scheduled for that day and any following days. If you do not use a calendar regularly, you might find it handy to begin doing so now. Make sure every appointment and any other “busy” times are recorded. Now familiarize yourself with every time commitment you have made for the day, and determine if you can reasonably accomplish everything based around the time you have during that day.

Prioritize Action Items
Use the Prioritize Action Items session to think about everything you want to accomplish in a day. List them on paper and then break those items down into manageable chunks. Once you have these items broken down you can then prioritize them so that they become achievable. How you choose to accomplish daily action items, and goals, is really to pick the way that works best for you.

Read his whole post and download calendar and planning forms for the Middle Way Method, at D*I*Y Planner.

(Enso image by waden)

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