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I have used a host of diary and energy management systems over the years. My feeling is that all systems need to be continually tweaked because our needs and challenges are continually changing. Nothing is going to last forever so please keep that in mind. The best system is simply the one that works for you today.

Nevertheless, here are two of the systems I am currently using:

The Daily Journal System – This is the one I actually use for my programmes. All you need to do is to change the date in cell C2 in the Week 1 Daily Journal tab and you’re good to go. This system includes a daily planning and reflection cycle that gives you the opportunity to learn each and every day. It is also formatted in a way that allows for quick weekly reviews to embed any learnings.

If the explanations aren’t clear, you find gremlins or you need guidance feel free to email me (tom [at] tomoleary.ie).

Over the days it can also be helpful to break down your invisible workload in the Week 1 Invisible Workload tab. So what is my invisible workload? It is basically everything that burns up mental, physically and spiritual energy but sort of flies under the radar. It can reduce available mental resources and create a sort of existential sense of constant stress.

For many it is that seemingly endless mental work required to keep life and work on track: planning, scheduling, even remembering. For example, some clients spend a chunk of time and energy each day thinking about and managing their calendars and to-do lists whilst others struggle to let go of tasks they have delegated and keep churning them over in the minds. No matter how minor they may seem, they all require time and energy.

This system is not intended to be a time logger – that has its place but not many people are going to be motivated to do it for more than a couple of days. If you do need a time logging template you can download it here.

Balanced Life SystemI developed this system for myself. It is the first thing I open in the morning and last thing I shut down at night. It is based on much reflection and work with clients.

It is designed to reflect the reality that our lives are split into a whole series of identities and roles (in my case dad, husband, friend, business owner, coach, educator, time thinker, climate activist, volunteer….). It can be very hard to answer big questions like “What do you want to accomplish over the next 5 years?” Who should answer such a question?

It therefore felt natural to spread my activities across a whole series of buckets and write a mission statement for each one.

Missions can then be guided by nearer term priorities, which ultimately get broken down into more granular outcomes (i.e. activities and tasks).

Pro tip: This system allows you to establish what it is you want to accomplish in each area of your life and then track what you are doing on a daily basis. It quickly shows if you are spending too much in one area and not enough on others so you have the option to rebalance.

This system is a step-up from the previous one and requires some level of reflection as to the roles you are playing in life and what your mission is in each one.

For example, one of my buckets is entitled “Coaching and Educating!”. The mission statement is as follows:

Coaching and educating people and organisations on being more purposeful with their time and energy.

I then ask myself two questions each and every workday:

  • What opportunities might I create today to advance this mission?
  • How will today’s outcomes move me towards this?
  • To what might I be saying No?

By doing the same thing across the other buckets, I can keep track of my big pictures and live what for me is a more balanced life, which is my ultimate aspiration. You may have a different aspiration!