September 2015

Circle Of Time Planner

2015-12-23T19:21:16-04:00 Categories: SandBlog, think|Tags: , , |

Time management optimization… I’m always looking for different and effective ways to enhance time management. I’ve learned, better managing what you have to do frees you up for what you want to do. I’ve bumped into a novel approach to day management that you may want to try out.

You’re familiar with daily planner pages that use a grid/table to track the day (8 am at the top / 5 pm at the bottom).

This novel version I’ve found, uses the clock dial to visually map time. It’s basically a pie chart of your day.

[from the X17 website]
There is something about seeing my day presented on a wheel like this that makes me feel I have better control of my time. I like seeing the spacial relationship between projects/tasks.

I found this on the X17 website ( They produce planners and notebooks… But what makes their system unique is that they use a series of rubber bands to hold multiple mini-sections in one book. (detail below)

You can mix pages that are blank, pages that are lined, a calendar, and an address book in the same journal. And… one of the inserts you can buy uses this clock dial planner!

I looked all over the internet to see if this was a standard template I could find. No luck. So the folks here at the Idea Sandbox Institute have re-created it.

Below is a sample blank page.

[click to view larger]
Here, I’ve filled it out similar to the way they do in the example from the X17 site.

[click to view larger]

How to Use It

  • Draw lines from the center to the hours you have appointments.
  • Shade in the inner portion of the dial for in-office events. Shade in the outer portion for out-of-office events.
  • Add meaningful names to your events just outside the marked time.
  • Curving arrows can indicate a block of time.

If anyone is familiar with this tool, please let me know. I’m deducing from the example from the website that this is in fact how to use this planner.

Download It

Click to download a: Scalable Vector PDF version or a JPG version. Print at the proper size for the planning system you use. These are half-letter sized. (5.5″ wide x 8.5″ tall or 014 x 21.5 cm)

October 2012

A "Complete Sentence" Creates A Complete Strategy

2017-08-21T16:19:31-04:00 Categories: Sand for Your Inbox, SandBlog|Tags: , , , |

To obtain the best results from our marketing plans, we need to make sure our approach is well-thought and complete.

This is especially true of trending marketing tactics, (i.e., social media and discount coupon sites).

 We feel pressure to use these because they are popular and we’re worried about missing out. But, how do you determine what tactics best suit your needs?

An approach I have successfully used to test marketing strategy is to form a “complete marketing sentence.” Below I provide details and a ready-made template. Enjoy!

Similar to the way English grammar requires you to pair a subject and verb for a complete thought, marketing grammar requires its parts of speech for a thought to be complete.

The marketing plan was successful diagram

To ensure your marketing tactics make sense, you’ll need:

  • The Strategy – what existing company strategy supports the idea, making it worth pursuing?
  • Your Audience – with whom do you wish to connect.
  • The Tactic – the activity you’re planning.
  • Timing – when you plan to do the activity.
  • Why this Audience Cares – the pain in their life you are solving.
  • The Benefit of the Benefit – the effect this has on the quality of life of the audience.

Once you have all the parts identified, plug them into the structure – to form the complete idea.

The Structure:

Sentence Structure
Here, let me give you a “complete” sentence.

[Build awareness of our “Lower Employee Churn” program] among [CEOs]

thru [Direct Mail postcards] implemented [the first week of October 2012].

The audience cares because [it can significantly lower training costs and increase morale]

thus [allowing them to reaffirm their leadership role].
Here’s the background for that sentence.

You offer company leaders a training program. It teaches them how to keep their employees happier and, therefore, reduces the number of employees that quit. You want to let these leaders know about this program through a direct mailing.

The Parts:

  • Strategy: Build awareness of our “Lower Employee Churn” program
  • Audience: CEOs
  • Tactic: Direct Mail postcards
  • Timing: the first week of October 2012
  • Why They Care: it can significantly lower training costs and increase morale
  • Benefit of the Benefit: allows them to reaffirm their leadership role.

That complete sentence again…

[Build awareness of our “Lower Employee Churn” program] among [CEOs]

thru [Direct Mail postcards] implemented [the first week of October 2012].

The audience cares because [it can significantly lower training costs and increase morale]

thus [allowing them to reaffirm their leadership role].

Next time you’re wondering  if a marketing tactic has been well-thought, try “completing the sentence.”

Handy Template: Download your Complete Marketing Sentence Template. [PDF, 59kb]


May 2011

Tools To “Make Ideas Happen”

2017-08-19T15:44:55-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

Return with renewed energy and to be more productive than ever. THE key to productivity is an organized approach* to getting things done. I have recently discovered one of the simplest systems: The Action Method developed by Behance.

Their tagline says it all…

Make Ideas Happen

Behance breaks it down into three bite-sized chunks:

  • Action Steps – the things to do, to get things done,
  • Backburner Items – future action steps, or non-urgent things to remember, and
  • Reference Items.

Here is how Behance explains the Action Method:

ACTION STEPS are tasks that need to be completed.

BACKBURNERS are the brilliant ideas that you want to come back to later but are not yet actionable.

The outcome of every idea or interaction must be captured and transformed into action steps, backburner items, and reference items.

1) Capture Action Steps, Relentlessly

During a brainstorm, meeting, or on the run, ideas arrive in a flurry of other activity and can be lost unless they are captured and transformed into action steps. Action Steps are tasks to be completed. Each action step should start with a verb (i.e.: follow up with x, review y, meet with z).

2) Tend to Your Backburner

Keep a “backburner” to catch ideas that may someday require actions, or just to clear your mind of the little and non-urgent things. Preserve your creative energy and focus on action steps!

3) File Reference Items, Sparingly

REFERENCES are notes, links, files, sketches – any information related to a project that gives context to your Action Steps. Keep only the notes, articles, and sketches that you need. Avoid clutter.
Behance has developed a line of tools to help you be more organized.

DISCUSSIONS enable you to manage ongoing conversations across all of your projects with anyone that works with you. All relevant communications (shared documents, solutions to problems, feedback, decisions) are in one place.

EVENTS are the key occasions/meetings/milestones/etc toward which you (and your team) are working. Events can be used to coordinate deadlines for Action Steps.

Supporting Tools

Action Notebook

Their Action Notebook and Pad has space to capture action steps, backburner notes, space for notes and sketches, and a space to jot preparation and focus items so you can plan for meetings beforehand and be sure to address your focus items.

Behance isn’t only the purveyor of the Action Method and supporting tools, they also foster a network where creative professionals – yes, that including us marketers too – may share creative work, collaborate, exchange tips, and post jobs.

The notebook is spiral bound and the pad has tear-off sheets. Each has 50 pages. (Both fit within a three-ring notebook).

Behance Notebook

Action Pad Mini

Their Action Pad Mini, in addition to being a clean tool for capturing action steps, is also brilliantly designed to fit the medium-sized Moleskine Notebook (5″x7″). A perfect pairing.

Back Burner

Action Cards

3″ x 5″ cards for capturing ideas anytime.

Back Burner

Action Stickers

Each removable sticky-back action step can be peeled from the card and placed on magazine covers, drafts of projects, or in traditional notebooks. Action Stickers help bring your action steps to the surface, ultimately catching your attention.

Back Burner


If you don’t have a process – make or get one. The time you’ll invest in learning a system far outweighs the cost of forgotten ideas, as well as the time and frustration spent trying to recall stuff left to memory alone. If you do have a process, and it works well for you, keep it. No need to cut into your productivity by fiddling with what’s working for you.