Carving out the time to sit and plan out your days, the upcoming week, or your longer-term projects, etc. can be rife with challenges.
There is always something popping up threatening your intentions.
Things to-do or people to see or calls to make that feel more pressing (and more interesting) than planning.
And then even when you do manage to get something down on paper or in your favorite task manager app you might never go back to look at that list for days.
It makes you wonder why you are bother trying to plan in the first place. Life happens and things don’t turn out the way we expect so what is the point?
The point is this:
Getting things done doesn’t actually get you ahead of the curve.
Planning Saves You Time: By seeing in advance the errands you can consolidate, the tasks you can delegate, or outright say “No” too because you better understand ALL you’ve got on your plate.
Planning Uncovers Your Priorities. By thinking through our tasks and identifying your true priorities for the day, month, or even the year, you gain a better understanding of what tasks need to happen and where they fit in your schedule.
Planning Provides A ‘Crisis’ Filter. Once you know what is most important for you to accomplish each day you can better manage and respond to others’ emergencies instead of allowing them to take over our day. This is time protection at its best.
Planning Improves Our Communications. Advance planning will almost always reminds you of messages to send, calls to make, or information you need to share to ensure that all involved parties are on the same page.
Planning Gives Us Peace of Mind: Knowing what you have to do and when you are going to do it will help you feel much more in control over your time and schedule. This shift can easily reduce your stress which will increase the amount of energy you have each day.
Planning Best Practices:
Separate doing from planning. They are two distinct activities which often need a different approach mentally. Your first step to most any project is going to be planning first. Schedule this when you will have the right mindset and energy level for this task.
Block specific planning time on your calendar. One approach would be to take 15 minutes at the end of the day to wrap-up and start your to-do list for the next day. Block 1 hour each week to plan your tasks and schedule for the upcoming week. You need to find the frequency and time commitment that works best for you.
Planning checklists can be very helpful. Here are some steps that work for me: review today’s list, transfer what didn’t get done to tomorrow’s list. Review calendar and longer-term list for other priorities. Collect any other action item from the day and get it into your list for tomorrow or onto your longer-term list. Practice and see what steps work for you.
Not all planning has to be linear. Take a look at mind mapping to see if this approach feels better to you. Often it makes the process exponentially more interesting and creative – especially for my visual clients.
Set up a ‘home’ for your different plans. Decide if you want to use a notebook, notepad, Word document. Be sure to have a place for your daily plans, your short-term plans, and your long-term plans and ideas. Keep these very intentional and sacred.
Employ a reminder system as you begin your planning habit. Set a reminder on your phone or calendar, get an accountability buddy or coach, put a large sign where you can see it – anything you need to do to remind yourself to take the time to plan.
As you can see the theme here is to experiment. Notice what planning strategies work for you and which don’t. Keep tweaking and allowing your approach to evolve. Over time you will have taken your planning system to a whole new level!
Are You Ready To Upgrade Your Time Management Systems?
If you are ready to put ALL the pieces together of your time and task management system I encourage you to check out my digital workbook on Amazon.com called True For You Time Management. It walks you through the process of building a time and task system that really and truly works for you. Click here to check it out.
If you’d prefer to have immediate feedback as you build your system click here to learn about my productivity coaching programs.