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To Plan or Not to Plan

planning time management Jan 04, 2019

I’ve been telling people for a long time, “tell your time where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

But what does that mean anyway?

It means to plan...but it's more than that.

PROactive vs REactive

When you don't take the time to plan your time, you'll be much more likely to be in reactive mode rather than proactive.

In other words, you'll be doing what other people want you to do throughout your day instead of what you need/want to do.

Proactive people are more productive than reactive people are. It's not even close.

Which begs the question...

How do you plan?

Here is my 4-step process for planning my time.

STEP ONE: Start with a list 

Perhaps one of the most common mistakes people make when they are planning their time is they are at a loss of what to put on their schedule.

There are probably already events on your calendar for tomorrow, next week, next month, etc. These may include coaching clients, interviews, seeing clients, doctor's appointments, and the like.

But I doubt every minute of your day is planned...as I recommend.

Let me explain...

Let's say you're planning on working eight hours tomorrow. You already have five hours allocated. That's good.

But what about the other three hours?

What are you going to do here?

Many people don't write anything in these time slots or they write something like "open".

But what if you had a list of things you want/need to do? A list that you would always have with you (so you can add to it whenever and wherever)?

Do you think that this would make your planning easier? (Say yes!)

As you plan your time, use your list to fill in the open spots.

You can always move these other items but you're likely to be productive when you have something here then nothing at all. Does that make sense?

STEP TWO: Don't plan in a hurry

You'll create a much more effective schedule when you allow yourself enough time to do so.

Translation: don't do it when you're at a red light or in line at Starbucks.

Instead, give yourself the gift of scheduling time at the end of every day/start of every day to think about your tomorrow and plan accordingly.

On Sundays, think about and plan for the week ahead.

Once a month, think about your month or quarter ahead.

STEP THREE: How long will a task REALLY take you?

This can be a challenge to get right when you first start planning...so give yourself grace.

I once had a client that did a lot of writing. Not only were they not planning when they hired me, but they also had very little concept of time of how long their writing actually took them.

They would schedule an hour for writing only to discover it took them closer to three!

Once they realized reality, they scheduled appropriately. (Actually, I suggested they break this long writing up into three smaller chunks with a brief break between.)

STEP FOUR: You'll never get it right

No matter how long you plan, while you will get better, you'll never perfect it.

I certainly haven't...though I have gotten better at doing it.

When you make mistakes, it's okay. It's all part of the learning process.

If you take on the mindset of being a student of this process, you'll have an open mind and will continue to get better.

Your turn

How do you approach planning?

What mistakes have you made along the way?

Leave a comment below.

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