Welcome to Trevor AI's guide on Minimalism, where we will cover:
Trevor AI is aiming to build the simplest, yet most effective planner app. We are minimalists by heart and we've been learning from thousands of our users since 2015. The contents of this article represent our accumulated knowledge of daily planning, time management and time blocking. Our goal is to share our insights and the best practices of our most successful users, so you can do more, with less.
A to-do list is a great way to keep track of what you need to do. It can be as simple as a handwritten list or a sophisticated app with reminders and due dates. At its core, a task list is just a backlog of things to do, which are often organised into lists.
The main problem with to-do lists is that they are often unrealistic. We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a day and put too many items on our list. Without a duration for each task, or a specific time assigned for it, our mind seems to feel overwhelmed and conflicted with the instructions we're giving it. This can lead to frustration and anxiety when we can't check everything off our list. Eventually it becomes so big we become paralysed with indecision and eagerly start over in a new app.
Calendars are a great way to keep track of time-sensitive events, meetings and appointments. They can be used to plan your day, week or month. However, they don't typically work well as to-do lists. This is because calendars are designed for time-based events, not tasks. You could theoretically copy-paste your whole backlog of tasks in your calendar, but managing it would become a real pain as you have to move all of those tasks and reschedule them countless times. Even marking them as complete would be annoying, as you'd need a special indication in your calendar, as well as a checkmark in your to-do list, while juggling between two apps.
Time blocking is a technique that combines the best features of calendars and to-do lists. It is a way of scheduling your time so that you can focus on specific tasks at specific times. Combining your backlog of tasks with the canvas of a realistic action plan is all you really need to plan effectively, and it's also the easiest way of doing so.
For example, you can block off two hours for writing at 10am. This means that you will only work on writing during those two hours and nothing else. This allows you to focus on writing and get it out of the way so that you can move on to other tasks.
Time blocking is a great way to live your day with minimalism and focus on what's important. It also helps you to break down your day into manageable chunks and prevents you from getting overwhelmed. You get a clear picture of what you can realistically do today, because each task has its own duration and its own timeframe. Once you visually see your available time in a day, your priorities are bound to improve. We all have 24h in a day - it's just a matter of how we invest them.
1) Offload every task you need to do, from your mind into a centralized inbox.
2) Organize your tasks in lists and break down big ones into smaller, more manageable chunks.
3) Simply move tasks between your to do lists and your calendar to schedule them.
4) Focus on one task at a time and don't move on to the next until the allotted time is up.
5) Mark it as complete right within your schedule. You could also extend or reschedule it at will.
6) Take breaks in between tasks to rest and rejuvenate and add enjoyable activities that energize you.
7) At the end of the day, review your list and see what you were able to accomplish.
8) Repeat this process every day until it becomes a daily routine.
At Trevor AI, we believe that time blocking is the ultimate planning technique as it captures the essence of minimalism. Planning your day is as easy as drag & dropping tasks between your task list and your calendar, and powerful enough to be used by Elon Musk, Benjamin Franklin, Tim Ferris and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A common example of a daily routine for a minimalist is to wake up early, spend some time planning the day's tasks, and then start knocking out those tasks. This routine can be tweaked depending on what works best for the individual, but the important part is that this process is easy to follow and powerful in its nature.
Some benefits of daily planning include less stress, more free time, more control over our day, a clearer mind and improved focus. For some people, minimalism can be a way to declutter their lives and live more simply. For others, it may be a process of removing the unnecessary in order to focus on empowering their productivity so they can reach new heights and achieve bigger goals.
Trevor AI can help minimalists by providing a simple and effective way to plan out each day. By deeply integrating a calendar with a to do list, Trevor AI gives users the best of both worlds. This can help minimalists stay on track with their daily tasks and avoid feeling overwhelmed by their endless to do list. Time blocking can essentially turn your overwhelming piles of tasks into an organized and manageable schedule.
Trevor AI is a great weekly planner because it allows you to break down your week into manageable chunks. You can easily move tasks between your task list and your calendar, and get a clear picture of what you can realistically do in a week. Weekly planners come in various shapes and sizes, but Trevor gives you flexibility from micromanaging your day to planning months-long projects.
Planning your week ahead also prevents you from getting overwhelmed, because each task has it's own time block. In addition, you can see all of your special events or important dates and schedule your tasks along side them. This helps with goal setting and focus, so you can get things done. At the end of the week, you can review your list to see what you were able to accomplish and to reschedule the rest.
It's important to schedule a day you'd actually want to live. Make time for things in life which are important to you, among your responsibilities and commitments. Happiness is often said to be the new productivity trend.
When it comes to monthly planning, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. First, start by reviewing your monthly goals. What do you hope to accomplish? Once you have a general idea of what you want to achieve, you can start creating a plan of how you will achieve them.
Next, create a basic schedule for the month, by scheduling important tasks in the all-day section of the calendar. You can schedule them in specific time blocks later, but this will help you get an idea of which days are busiest, what's the theme of the day and when you will have some free time for other items in your backlog. Once you have your calendar mapped out, start filling in your goals and tasks for each day. Be realistic with how much you can accomplish in a day and give yourself enough time to complete each task. You will get better at prediction durations with time, and so will your Trevor.
Finally, make sure to review your plan regularly and make changes as needed. Things always come up unexpectedly so it's important to be flexible with your plan. If something comes up and you need to reschedule a task, that's okay! Trevor makes that easy as well. Just make sure to update your plan accordingly.
With these tips in mind, you can create a monthly plan that helps you achieve your goals and stay on track!
Is the paper planner still the right planner in the age of digital collaboration?
One of the pros of using a paper planner is that you have a physical copy of your calendar which can be helpful for tracking tasks, events, and deadlines. They come in various interesting designs, allowing you to even choose a binder style such as the ring bound planner. People love those planners because you can physically write in them, which some people find more effective and enjoyable than typing. You can jot things in your writing space, draw notes, attach fun stickers, add inspirational quotes and fit them in your work bag.
However, the con of using a paper planner is that it can be difficult to keep up with if you're not good at organizing and keeping track of things. It can be easy to lose or damage, which can be frustrating. A phone is always in your pocket and the cloud is... well the cloud, and the connection to the cloud is the main reason planners have gone digital!
A clear mind is a gateway to deep work, but before you can enter this flow state, you need to clear your thoughts.
"Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them." - David Allen
Remembering everything we need to do in our heads is not a game we were designed to win. Firstly, we're not great at remembering and our memories change over time. Writing things down has been a proven way of human progress for centuries. Secondly, the human brain is believed to be capable of holding about 7 items at once. If you try to remember your whole to do list, your tasks essentially become a bunch of boomerang thoughts that interrupt your mind at unintended times, which destroys your focus. Lastly, when important items are written down, as tasks or time-sensitive events in your calendar, your mind is clearer and free to focus on deep work.
Deep work is a term coined by author and professor Cal Newport and is the ability to focus intensely on a task without distractions. It's a skill that is becoming more and more valuable in today's society, as our attention spans continue to shrink. To be able to deep work, you need to be able to eliminate distractions and focus on the task at hand.
This can be a challenge, but it's definitely worth it! When you're able to deep work, you're able to produce better quality work in a shorter amount of time. So how can you start training yourself for deep work? Here are a few tips:
- Start by identifying your distractions and eliminating them as much as possible. This may mean enabling the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone, going to a specific location, working in a quiet environment or using noise cancelling headphones.
- Make sure you assign enough time to complete the task at hand. Don't try to cram too many tasks into a short period of time, as this will only lead to anxiety and distraction.
- Practice focusing on one task at a time to dramatically reduce the mental cost of context switching. This may be difficult at first, but it will get easier with practice.
- Take breaks regularly and allow yourself time to relax and recharge. Deep work is hard work, so you need to make sure you're taking care of yourself both mentally and physically.
Time blocking is great for tracking projects because it allows you to easily see what you need to do and when you need to do it. Having a clear timeline for each project helps to keep you focused and on track. Additionally, time blocking can help to keep the whole team in sync, as you will be able to see the work you have scheduled for the day, helping you to coordinate with your team.
By having a visual map of everyone's schedule you can seamlessly use it to track your projects and make sure everyone is on the same page. Some tasks can be blockers for others and being able to see when they'll be executed can help your organization move projects faster than ever. Managers and project leaders can help adjust schedules so work is being moved forward in a more agile manner. Weekly pages and monthly pages can be displayed for anyone to see as a roadmap. Some startups have employed a happy planner, promoting work life balance and wellbeing as a productivity booster. There are plenty of flavours to add, but Trevor AI keeps it simple. It just works. Nothing more. Nothing less.
My co founder and I have been using time blocking to develop Trevor AI and grow the business. We were just two people - a product designer/engineer and a hardcore software engineer yet with Trevor's efficiency and effectiveness we managed to help thousands. We wouldn't be able to build Trevor, without Trevor. We'll share how we leveraged Trevor's more powerful techniques in upcoming articles, so stay tuned!
When it comes to staying focused, planning your day is a key component. By knowing what you need to accomplish and when you need to do it, you can focus on one task at a time and avoid distractions. Those are necessary steps to enable the flow state of deep, meaningful work.
Additionally, having a clear plan helps you to stay motivated and on track. If you get sidetracked or lose focus, refer back to your plan and refocus on what you need to do. Procrastination can often be solved by scheduling a task. This simple act primes your mind for action and that's often all you need to get started.
Overall, planning your day with a productivity planner is an effective way to stay focused and get things done. Trevor AI is among the best planners you can start with because it's simple, effective and smart. Trevor is currently free for personal use. Sign up today and experience for yourself how Trevor AI can help you live a more minimalist, mindful and productive day!