In the course of working with clients, I’ve developed a number of small tools that can help solve some of life’s nagging problems, such as:
- How do I write a job description? Hiring is Hard
- How do I write an online dating service profile? (People who recognize these are two instances of the same solution, using different vocabularies, will probably like my tools.) The Love Calculator
- How do I manage my crazy to-do list? The Life Map, a free download available on this page.
- I’m single and live alone. Who will know who needs to know if I die unexpectedly? In Case Of Death
- What are my clients really looking for, when my business is the answer? Keyword Research Package
Life Map (blank)
A printable copy of a Life Map that can help clarify the programs and projects that have your attention. When you have a clear picture of your life and its commitments, it can be much easier to understand what the appropriate “next actions” are.
IMO, David Allen misses a step in his Getting Things Done program, and that step is Program-level thinking. That is, David’s system for managing (and distinguishing among) projects and next actions is fabulous. Most people get mixed up, to-do-list wise, when they put a “project” on a to-do list and think of it as a “next action.”
For example, have you ever put “Mom’s birthday” on your to-do list? That’s a project: Timeline, consider gift, obtain gift, send or deliver gift / dinner / visit, schedule call, etc. (Details vary according to your distance from and relationship with your own mother, and are complicated by a factor of at least 2 if it’s your MIL’s birthday.)
Anyway–projects and next actions are useful, as far as they go. However, they are also, generally, organized according to Programs–collections of projects. Most people in the US are managing at least 12-15 programs at any one time, and sometimes as many as 20. Consider your own life:
- Your spouse or partner
- Each child at home
- Parents (one branch or two, depending on spouse)
- Your house
- Your civic / spiritual / religious commitments (sometimes more than one of each)
- For most people, your source of income offers at least 3-4 programs, from General Admin through special projects, supervised employees, and so forth
- Upcoming special events
Creating a Life Map provides an opportunity to take a snapshot of everything going on in your life, organized by program. I update mine three or four times a year. You can use paper and pencil, or your own Mind Mapping software, or you can use this MS Word document as a starting point. Help yourself!
Hiring is Hard: How to Hire Your Third Employee
In 2010, one of my clients asked for help designing a hiring system for his franchised videography business. As an offshoot of the work I did for him, I created a small business guide for hiring employees 1-10. (The system is titled “how to hire your third employee” because it became clear that most small businesses stumbled into hiring employees #1 & 2 without a systematic approach. It’s hiring the first person you didn’t already know that gets really tough.)