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ALPEN method: plan your day in a few minutes



SUMMARY


The ALPEN method helps you plan your working day briefly and efficiently. What do you need? A piece of paper and a pen.



CONTENT


  • What is the ALPEN method?

  • How does the ALPEN method work?

  • Who is the ALPEN method suitable for?

  • ALPEN method example

  • Conclusion



WHAT IS THE ALPEN METHOD?


The ALPEN method is a time management method for creating a daily plan with the most important tasks in 5 to 15 minutes. The method goes back to Prof. Dr. Lothar Seiwert, economist and time management expert. For the ALPEN method, take a piece of paper and pen, a spreadsheet template or a digital to-do list in your CRM and go through the following steps for your daily schedule:


  • Write down tasks.

  • Estimate length.

  • Do not forget buffer times.

  • Make decisions.

  • Follow-up at the end of the day.


Unfortunately, the method has nothing whatsoever to do with the mountains, even though a working day can resemble mountain climbing.



HOW DOES THE ALPEN METHOD WORK?


Even if you say, "I know all the things I have to do", it is often the little things that eat up endless amounts of time. At the end of the day, you are annoyed that you didn't get everything done that you had planned for the day. But you also can't say exactly where all the time went.


Therefore, take the daily schedule seriously and write down every important task you have planned for the day: from creating a presentation to a team meeting and staff meeting to answering all the user enquiries on the website. Initially, the order of the tasks does not matter. The Getting-Things-Done method can help.


Once you have written down the goal of the task, estimate a realistic length. Also, consider possible difficulties so that you don't put yourself under pressure and block yourself by setting too tight a time limit. Then it has the opposite effect and the whole day's plan gets pushed back. This demotivates you. Write down an end time for each task. Try the timeboxing method for this.


 

Tip: If you are working with colleagues on a project, for example via Scrum, plan more time for coordination and feedback. Think about how realistic it is that everyone will deliver their part on time, what correction loops will be added and what possible delays can occur. This is the only way you can realistically set up and manage your daily schedule. Also, pay attention to the schedules and daily routines of your colleagues if you need to make arrangements or hold meetings.

 

Even if you eliminate time-wasters and disruptions as much as possible, something will always come up. So that this doesn't put you too far behind, plan buffer times for each task. This way you can take a spontaneous and very important customer call and make a new appointment, or react to other urgent requests and unforeseen disruptions. But be careful not to allow regular interruptions, as this will distract you from the task at hand and make you less productive.


And if you don't need the buffer time? Then be happy that you have completed the task with such high concentration and success, treat yourself to a coffee break or a conversation with colleagues and start the next task full of energy.


This is also in the spirit of Seiwert, the inventor of the method. His suggestion is to schedule only 60 per cent of your working time for tasks and 40 per cent as a buffer for unforeseen things as well as for social activities.


The Making Decisions step means that when you create your daily schedule, you usually have more tasks on your list than you can complete during the working day. Sort the tasks according to priorities (helpful methods are the ABC method or the Eisenhower method). See which tasks you have to do urgently and which you can delegate. Some tasks can certainly be done the next day or during the week.


Shortly before the end of the day, plan time for checking. Have you achieved everything? Where do you need to make improvements? Are there still open tasks? Ask yourself what the problem was and make a note of this task in the daily plan for the next day. The follow-up check not only serves as a result check, but you also check whether your planning was appropriate, where you can still optimise it and whether your time estimates were realistic. If not: plan more time for the upcoming tasks or buffer times to reduce your stress.



WHO IS THE ALPEN METHOD SUITABLE FOR?


The ALPEN method is suitable for anyone who likes to plan and needs a sensible overview of the day's tasks in order to work through them one by one. For this, you need self-discipline, organisational skills and the intention to focus more and not be distracted.


The advantage: planning should not take long and you will not waste any time during the day. And if you already put together the daily plan for the next working day in the evening, you will suddenly have so much more time the next morning - and it will be for you.



ALPEN METHOD EXAMPLE


  • 09:00h to 09:30h: Work through mails of the evening and morning (duration: 30 minutes, buffer 15 minutes), Done: yes/no.

  • 09:45h to 10:00h: Call co-founders for PR agency (duration: 15 minutes, buffer 5 minutes), Done: yes/no.

  • 10:00h to 10:30h: Team meeting via Zoom (duration: 30 minutes, buffer: 15 minutes), Done: yes/no.

  • 10:45h to 11:45h: Project calculation (duration: 1 hour, buffer: 15 minutes), Done: yes/no.

  • 12:00h to 13:00h: Lunch break.

  • 13:00h to 13:30h: Decision on calculations (duration: 30 minutes, buffer: 15 minutes), Done: yes/no.

  • 13:45h to 14:15h: Email enquiries (duration: 30 minutes, buffer 10 minutes), Done: yes/no.

  • 14:15h to 16:45h: Draft concept for project (duration: 2.5 hours, buffer: 15 minutes), Done: yes/no.

  • 17:00h to 17:45h: Follow-up check of tasks and feedback to colleagues (duration: 30 minutes, buffer 15 minutes), Done: yes/no.

  • 17:45 to 18:00h: Preparation of the daily plan for the next day.

  • End of work and evening routine


 

Tips: Do you have a very important and unpleasant task to do that you are putting off? Then fight procrastination with the Eat the Frog method and schedule it as the first task of the day. When you have completed it with a high level of concentration, your mind will be free for everything else on your schedule. This reduces pressure and removes potential blocks that putting off unpleasant tasks can cause.

 


CONCLUSION


If you have an overview of all your tasks and goals and your daily structure is written down in black and white, it will be easier for you to work through your daily plan step by step. Of course, the more people are involved in the projects, the more difficult it becomes and the more your own time is determined by others. In this case, the times per task must be planned more and more generously.


You will notice: The overfilled to-do lists will soon be a thing of the past and you will finally be able to enjoy your long-awaited end of the day. Because you already know what the next day will bring. And if the unexpected happens, you are prepared for it thanks to the buffer times. We wish you a well-structured day and a good evening!

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