Ask Steve: Your New Productivity Advice Column

My picture nameGreetings all. As Doug rightly pointed out below, I have been taking my own advice and practicing Not Getting Things Done. It's a terrific system, except when... ya know... you actually have to get things done... as it were. Then it sort of fails on several levels. So, here we are with the first installment of a brand-new column: Ask Steve: Answering All The Productivity Questions You Were Afraid To Ask A Sane Person.

Opening up the old D*I*Y Planner male bag... sorry, mail bag... I don't know why I always get that one wrong. Dyslexics of the world, Untie! Anyway, opening the old mail bag, our first productivity question is from Mr. Ernest. A. Smith of Cambridge Massechus... Massechusit... Massuchesuets... Boston!, who writes:

"Ever since downloading D*I*Y Planner 3 and being very impressed with its innate impressiveness, I have been almost evangelically trying to convert people who use other systems, both digital and paper-based, to its use. I have received generally favourable feedback, but I do have a problem. My wife is starting to complain that we never do anything spontaneous or, well, unplanned, anymore and threatened that if I don't stop trying to get her to use the D*I*Y Planner Calendar Pack to organize our last-minute romantic getaways, she is going to smother me in my sleep with a pillow. What should I do?"

Well Ernest (and, incidentally, you sound like you fit your name perfectly), this is a problem, no doubt about it. As hard as it is to believe, the fact is that some people are more interested in paper-based planning than others. Some people actually don't plan anything. These so-called 'spontaneous' people are generally considered to be a menace to society and should be shot. Nevertheless, since you're already married to one, you're just going to have to make do. What often works in this kind of situation is to show her the true value of paper-based planning with a comprehensive example scenario, such as the following:

Romantic Scenario 12 Delta - Phase 6

  • 19:30 hours- Sit down to dinner at the Chez Gigantic Bill
  • 19:31-20:14 hours - Eat dinner and engage in jovial or semi-romantic conversation
  • 20:15-20:24 hours - Eat Desert and continue talking. May interject lightly disguised sexual innuendo
  • 20:14-20:14 hours 30 seconds - Stop briefly on street and admire busker twisting balloons into funny shapes for children
  • 20:26 hours - Return home and prepare to engage in romantic relations
  • 20:30-2:45 hours - Consult modified matrix D*I*Y Romantic Relations Template for various possiblities
  • 20:46-21:03 hours - Engage in agreed upon romantic relations or watch CNN Headline News several times

You see, Ernest, the key is to present the planner in the language a spontaneous person will appreciate. Not everyone will see the point of paper-based planning right away; sometimes you have to sell it.

Our second (and, judging by the current word count, last) question comes from Susan Sporzansky of Anchorage, Alaska, who writes:

"Can you suggest any way to keep my husband from using my D*I*Y Planner to start fires? He's a pyromaniac and an arsonist and he keeps using my planner to burn down the neighbours homes. This is becoming terribly inconvenient, as I have to continually keep reprinting my planner. In closing, let me just say that I exist."

Well Susan, in this case, I would recommend laminating your planner, using a dry-erase marker and running for your life. May I suggest San Francisco? I hear it's wonderful this time of year.

Well, that's my first stab at the advice columnist gig. Send in all your productivity problems and I'll do my best to care. So, until next time, keep your pen on the page and watch out for Dick Cheney. Apparently he got loose again.

Steve Sharam

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Dear Abby...

My dear fellow,

I require the most urgent of advice. One of my esteemed colleagues, let us refer to him as 'little Hans', has had the most unfortunate of mishaps. While fishing for his wallet outside a jewellery emporium he asked a young lady to hold his D*I*Y Planner. She being of good professional standing did oblige 'my friend'. However at that exact moment an odd-toed ungulate ran past startling the young lady, whom in a fit of hysteria, proceeded to write her name and telephone number in fore-mentioned planner. My *cough* 'friend's' question is this; is it better to carry a pencil so one may erase such antics or to print a fresh leaf in these situations?

Your S T M

Ungulate Problem

Well STM, that is a serious problem. You definately have to nip it in the bud, as females are, without a doubt, the greatest detrement to efficiency known to man. The key, it seems to me, is exactly what type of ungulate it was. You see, you could resonably say, "Look out, a Mountain Zebra!", distracting the young lady in question and allowing you to steal your planner back, removing the page in question, but it would seem patently absurd and give the game away completely if you were to cry out, "Oh my goodness, beware of the Malayan Tapir!", whilst diving for cover. The solution I would adopt is, next time, hold on to your planner yourself and ask a stranger to hold your wallet.

Steve Sharam