Back in the 7th grade I broke my arm during basketball practice. I was terrible at basketball.
I tripped while running backwards and soon found myself lying on the gym floor with my head propped against my not-quite-leather jacket (a must-have accessory back in 1992).
It didn’t take long for my mom to show up and ask if this was my way of getting out of Saturday chores. She was kidding. I smiled. My teammates laughed. We headed to the car.
As I was getting settled into the backseat, my mother drops her next big joke of the day: “OK then, I just have a few errands to run on the way to the emergency room. We’ll be there soon enough.”
This time she wasn’t kidding.
My mother is the queen of errand running so this move didn’t really come as a huge surprise. But as we were dropping books off at the library and grabbing milk at the store, another important truth was planted in my subconscious that day:
Have a plan, but keep it flexible.
Emergencies, interruptions, and new priorities will arise everyday.
This is a fact of life.
Often I see this used as a reason not to make a plan. It can feel like a waste of time to map out your day when it’s likely to be thrown off course. For some, it can even feel scary to commit to something you may be unable to follow to a T.
However without a plan you are setting yourself up for a reactive day run by other people. Without a plan what you complete that is important to you will be greatly diminished.
My mom had thought about what she needed to get done that day – proactively. If she hadn’t, she would have responded to my broken arm reactively and missed a few quick opportunities to take care of her whole family.
If planning overwhelms you, try spending 30 seconds thinking through your goals for the day in your head.
Once that becomes consistent, get that list on paper or in your favorite task manager. And once that becomes consistent, start looking two or three days ahead to see what other priorities are on the horizon.
What you are creating is a planning ritual that will slowly but surely protect your priorities from getting steamrolled by others – and how good would that feel?
Do you make a plan each day? Do you love it or hate it? What tricks do you use to stay on top of your priorities throughout the day? Share your comments below.