We’ve all heard the expression, “Fire, Shoot – Aim!” Unfortunately, many of us use this approach in planning our work and our days.
The more you plan, the more effectively your time will be spent. Instead of being busy, and even overwhelmed, planning will help you accomplish the more important things on your list.
Planning moves your efforts from being reactive to being proactive about how you spend your time. When you are proactive, you can focus on doing those things that will bring you the most impactful results rather than reacting to triggers that usually come from other sources.
While most of you reading this will feel that this topic is a “no-brainer”, the reality is most people will benefit by planning more.
Here are a few hints to help you plan your days, weeks and months more effectively:
1 Set a time to plan. Take between 10 and 20 minutes, each day, to review your life and business priorities. It is best if you set the same time each day. Most people do this effectively at the beginning or end of their day. Do this also at the beginning of a week and at the beginning of a month, so that you can view your priorities and you can make sure you are making space for them.
2 Know your priorities. It is difficult to plan your work. If you don’t have a big picture view of what your business and personal priorities are. These are what will enable you to plan more effectively.
3 Don’t let the urgent things beat out the important things. Many of us have a tendency to handle the urgent things, even though they are not on our high priority list. Someone else’s crisis may not fit with your important, high priority items. I think we’ve all heard the expression, “Your lack of planning doesn’t constitute a crisis on my part!”
4 Resist the temptation to immediately respond to others’ requests. While it is “nice” and customer friendly to stop what you are doing to help others, consider how important their request is relative to the task you are handling. Saying “I can’t help you this minute, can we chat at 2pm?” can help you keep on track with your priorities.
5 Check yourself. As you move forward with your day’s work, continually ask yourself, “Am I working on the most important task right now?”
6 Plan for interruptions. We know we are going to have interruptions, we just don’t know when they will happen! Too many people, when they are planning their days, plan a full day, assuming no delays or no interruptions. Then they are disappointed at the end of the day, when they have not achieved everything they planned! It is better to add some time in your day’s plan for interruptions and roadblocks.
Just a few minutes invested in effective and objective planning can save you hours and much pain in rework, missed deadlines and crises.
Planning is the act of controlling your own life, rather than your life controlling you. Once you achieve a state where you feel like you are in the driving seat, it is liberating and it can really help your attitude and approach towards your whole life, at work and at play. It’ll also help you be more relaxed and composed, as you know where you are in your planned day at any given time. It will provide you with the energy you need to be truly effective and not just busy all the time.
I believe that by investing more time in planning, you will avoid crises and rework. By thinking things through, thoroughly, you may be able to avoid mistakes and unnecessary work. It will provide you with the energy to be truly effective, and not just busy. Planning is an intentional way to approach your work and life. It adds purpose.
So, are you ready to aim?