Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Achieve Planner supports keyboard shortcuts associated with menu items and toolbar buttons. There are two types of shortcuts:

Regular shortcuts consist of a single key press combination. For example, the Edit->Delete command has the shortcut of Ctrl+D. This means you have to press the Ctrl key and, while holding it down, press the D key.


Another example is Ctrl+Alt+O for the Tools->Options command, where you need to press and hold the Ctrl and Alt keys and then press the O key.

Chord shortcuts consist of two consecutive set of key press combinations. For example, the Go->Outline command has the shortcut (Ctrl+G, L).


This means you have to press the Ctrl key and, while holding it down, press the G key. This is the first part of the chord. You will see in the status bar the following:


This means that Achieve Planner is waiting for you to enter the second part of the chord. In this case, you need to press the L key (without holding down the Ctrl or any other key) to complete the shortcut.

Some chord shortcuts require you to press a modified key (Ctrl, Alt, or Shift) on each of the two key press combinations. For example, the Edit->Drop Copy as Child command:


This shortcut requires Ctrl+Alt+Shift+V on the first part of the chord, and Shift+C on the second part.

Setting Up And Organizing Your Outline/Hierarchy

A common question is how to best setup and organize your outline, particularly when using Result Areas to represent life dimensions or roles. This article gives you some general ideas and guidelines based on years of experience and feedback from hundreds of users.

There are 4 levels of organization in the outline:

  • Categories – Used to group & organize related result areas into different groups, like personal and work.
  • Result Areas – Represent life areas, dimensions or roles
  • Goals/Projects – Represent outcomes within a result area or projects you are working on
  • Tasks – Represent actions or steps within a project


Categories are used to group & organize related result areas in the Outline into different groups. By default, you have two Categories to choose from: Personal & Work.

If you want to use more categories, or you want to change their names, you can setup the different categories using the Tools -> Options menu item and clicking on the Result Area Categories button.

If you’ve created a new category, you need to assign a result area to it before it will show up in the Outline. Here’s how to do that:

1) Double click on the result area in the Outline to open the Result Area Information form

2) Select the category for the Result Area from the Category dropdown in the form

3) Save and close the form

Now the result area should belong to the new category and you’ll be able to see it in the Outline.

Use Fewer, Broader Result Areas At First

When setting up your result areas, I recommend starting with a smaller number (4-8) of broader result areas, instead of creating a larger number of focused result areas, particularly when you are first getting started.

The reason is that having too many result areas can feel overwhelming and it becomes counterproductive.

So it’s better to start with a smaller number of result areas and add more if needed than to start with too many and feel overwhelmed.

The default Outline in a new data file has the following result areas…

  • Career – Represents your career path and growth
  • Health & Fitness – Represents your physical health, self-care, recreation and wellbeing
  • Personal Development – Personal growth including mental, emotional & spiritual wellbeing
  • Financial – Your personal finances and wealth building
  • Relationships – All the important relationships in your life
  • Work – Your work-related projects and activities

These cover the life areas and roles that most of us play in life and are a good starting point for most users.

From here, you can create more result areas if you want to add extra emphasis to certain parts of your life.

For example, if you want to emphasize your relationship with your spouse and children above all your other relationships, you could add Marriage and Children as separate result areas. If you want to emphasize self care above general health & fitness, you can add a Self Care result area to show that emphasis.

Just remember that in general, it’s better to keep your result areas manageable by limiting them to 4-8 areas. Don’t go overboard.

Don’t Use Child Result Areas For Organization

While AP supports creating child result areas, I recommend you avoid using them because it makes some of the other tabs harder to work with, particularly the Projects tab.

If you feel the need to better organize, categorize or separate projects/goals under one of your existing result areas, I recommend you use dreams, goals or projects to do that instead of child result areas.

This type of grouping dream, goal or project serves like a folder in your file system. It helps you organize your lower-level goals and projects.

Use Result Areas At the Top Of The Hierarchy

While you CAN create projects that don’t have a result area, Achieve Planner will work much better if you place all your dreams, goals and projects under a result area. Just trust me on this one.

If you don’t want to use AP for life planning and you only want to track work-related projects, I still recommend you use the Work result area for your projects.

Use Categories For Distinguishing Between Personal And Work-Related Areas

Categories help you distinguish between personal and work-related result areas. You can use categories to group result areas in the Outline & Projects tab, and they are used by some advanced features like the Task Chooser and Automatic Scheduling.

You can set the category for new result areas using the Result Area Information Form (double-click on a result area to open.) Just pick the category you want to assign from the dropdown.

Understanding the Achieve Planner Hierarchy

Achieve Planner (AP) uses hierarchical (multi-level) lists or outlines to help you organize, prioritize and manage everything that you need to do.

Within the main outline, AP supports these types of items:

Result Area (Result Area Icon ) – A result area represents a life dimension or role in your life like Health, Relationships, Finances and Work. Result areas help you distinguish work-related and personal projects/tasks, while also encouraging to think about your life in a more balanced way.

Here are the default result areas in the outline when you first launch Achieve Planner…


Each result area is assigned to a Category, which by default is either Work or Personal. The category helps you distinguish work-related result areas and personal result areas so you can focus on work-related projects while working without having to look at the personal stuff. You can change the category of a result area using the information form (double-click on row to open).

ProjectProjectIcon ) – A project represents any high-level outcome that you want to track, whether it includes a single or multiple steps. Projects give you an overview of everything that you are working on at any given time.

Projects can be complex multi-step sequence of tasks, like developing a product, organizing an event or preparing a presentation, but they can also be something as simple as paying a bill, responding to an e-mail or taking the dog to the vet. Since the project list is hierarchical, each project can include sub-projects using as many nested levels as you need.

Here is a screenshot of projects with nested sub-projects…


TaskTaskIcon ) – Tasks are the action steps associated with a project. Tasks are usually things like “Call Fred,” “Read the file,” or “Write outline for memo.” Tasks can have a hierarchical structure with tasks, sub-tasks and sub-sub-tasks. Although you can have Tasks directly under result areas, Achieve Planner works better when tasks are part of projects.

Here is a screenshot of tasks with nested sub-tasks…


Separating Projects & Tasks

In Achieve Planner, projects and tasks replace the traditional “to-do” list used in other time management systems.

In general, any to-do item that is not part of something larger should be stored as a project. Doing this will help you think and plan your time in terms of outcomes rather than just actions, which is an important step in becoming more results oriented.

You can keep track of your projects in the Outline & Projects tabs, where you can create hierarchical (multi-level) lists of your projects using as many levels as you need.

Achieve Planner separates the concepts of projects and tasks allowing you to view and track your high-level outcomes (projects) independently from your low-level actions (tasks.)

By doing this, your projects list will be shorter, easier to manage, and it will give you an overview of all the outcomes you are working on. You can store all the details as tasks and have easy access to them when you need them.

You can keep track of the tasks for each project in the Tasks tab, where you can create hierarchical (multi-level) task lists using as many levels as you need.

If you need to, you can easily convert tasks into projects (promote) or convert projects into tasks (demote) using the commands in the Actions menu.

You can learn more about the difference between projects and tasks and how this distinction can help you be more productive in the Get More Done In Less Time ebook (more info coming soon).

Dreams And Goals

The Productivity Suite edition of Achieve Planner also supports two additional types of items in the main outline: dreams and goals.

Dreams and goals are special types of projects and behave exactly like projects in the hierarchy. They are useful for grouping and organizing your projects based on the higher-level outcomes they are supporting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I have projects or tasks at the top of the hierarchy?

A: Only Result Areas can be at the top of the hierarchy, so all projects and tasks need to be under a result area.