There is procrastination and then there is preparing. We discussed both in a post several weeks ago and the differences. If you are just joining us or missed that post, you can review it here. The one topic we have not discussed is planning. Since 2004, planning has trended down. We are not preparing to avoid common pitfalls by undertaking strategic planning as we once had.
Jim Collins in Good to Great stated,
“Strategy per se did not separate the good-to-great companies…there is no evidence that the good-to-great companies spent more time on strategic planning…”
Maybe so, but let me make a case for planning, how it turned my life around and some tools you might find useful. In a month that is crawling with articles on goal setting, we do not see a case for strategic planning. It is probably why 25% of you have stopped your resolutions a few days ago and by mid-week another 10% will quit.
What is Planning?
Planning is a way of accomplishing a task strategically. How you prefer to approach a problem or task. You develop doable steps that lead to a desired result or solution. Where plans of action, tasks or goals fail is by not having a deadline. Even in your daily planning management, you are failing to give yourself a deadline.
I improved productivity with deadlines and planning, accidentally. Those I worked with perceived me as a hard-working man and that I devoted myself seriously to my craft. You do not know what you do not know. I had no plan. The reason I committed myself to the change was burnout and brokenness. Work was fantastic and I was a rising star. Home life was spiraling beyond control. I spent those long evening hours at work avoiding conflict. The office was a refuge where I was happiest. How is this relevant to improving productivity and planning? In my hunt for healing I promised myself to leave at 5pm to salvage my relationships. I began to reconcile a lot of issues that I had put on the shelf. I was caught in between a successful career and family. I learned more from this experience than I could have ever imagined. I learned how productive anyone could be when people actually set deadlines and plan. Analyzing what occurred years ago, I accomplished more in a shorter amount of time when I committed myself to a strategic planning process. The weekly and daily planning allowed me to center around what I was required to do.
The Importance of Planning
- Having deadlines brings focus and awareness to your work, events, family, finances, health, etc.
- Planning eliminates distractions and improves productivity.
- You will become more efficient, responsible, experience mental clarity and do more.
- Planning allows you to prioritize, control and align goals with your values.
- Essential to your success, planning helps accumulate more of what you want.
- Careful planning reduces the sense of urgency.
- You will gain balance in your life with a plan.
- Every day you will awaken with purpose, knowing exactly what must be done.
“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
7 Tips for Planning Management to Avoid Common Pitfalls
As you complete this process, you will begin to see how it will unfold and spend your days.
- Decide what needs to get done.
- Commit your plan of action to paper. Composing it engages and sharpens the brain in ways that reinforces your planning process.
- Calendar all your meetings and appointments first and then fill in the white space with your action plan steps.
- Grant yourself time, but not extra time, to complete each task.
- Use techniques like Pomodoro to break tasks up into 30 minute segments. Small quick action steps makes planning more manageable and gets quick wins.
- When completing a plan of action you should be specific, do not set deadlines in stone. Challenge yourself, but do not set yourself up for failure.
- Establish measurable milestones and pay yourself for meeting deadlines.
5 Planning Tools I Have Used
I am leaving you with some tools to try. If you have suggestions please share them in the comments section or on the social media platform where you found this post. I would be delighted to see what everyone is using.
Evernote – Create a folder with detailed notes for each of your plans of action. Add reminders to visit them periodically for review.
ToDoist – A productivity app that allows you to create up to 4 levels of sub-task, with minimal features and easy-to-use.
OmniFocus – Another task/project management tool if you are seeking an investment. It has many accessories.
Sunrise – A calendar app that allows you to integrate other productivity apps like Todoist.
Pomotodo – A Pomodoro timer with a built in To-Do-List. An added bonus, the ability to tag and measure what day and times you are most productive.