When you don’t make a plan, you may forget important items that need to be accounted for.
Without a plan, you may not realize you need to access important resources before you can start certain projects. That means wasted time, delays in taking action and other related problems.
When you don’t have a plan, it’s harder to prioritize tasks because you don’t have all the details in front of you to consider.
And, the list goes on and on.
Some people think that planning requires some kind of labor-intensive process, special knowledge or skills, or even certain software. None of this is true.
In fact, a plan can be as simple as adding your tasks directly to your online calendar, writing a list of items into your daily planner, or adding entries to desktop software or a phone app. It’s up to you to select the technique that works best for you. The key is to take a few minutes — not hours — to make a plan.
What are the benefits of planning?
When you have a plan, you can reduce the number of items swirling around in your head. Putting pen to paper, on clicks to keyboard can reduce the stress on your mental bandwidth. When you free up your mind, you’ll be more creative and innovative.
Making a plan can reduce stress and anxiety. When you’ve written down what you need to do, there’s less chance of forgetting something or being caught off guard. Not knowing, fear of missing out, or lack of structure all create feelings of unease.
A plan empowers you. You position yourself in a place of strength merely by creating a plan. You outline what needs to be done. You prioritize projects. You decide how you’ll execute. Without a plan, you’re running around like crazy. No direction. No responding. Just reacting.
Finally, when you have a plan you start to consider how much time you need to invest in your tasks. This will prompt you to rearrange items to meet deadlines. Planning also provides you with a sense of how much you can realistically get done within a day. Your days may be filled with client appointments, family responsibilities and other time commitments. When you know what needs to be done, you can more realistically plan out your workload without letting anything fall through the cracks.
How should you plan your day for success?
Plan your day the night before or even the week before. Take five or ten minutes to jot down the different tasks you need to complete. Then, each day, review and revise as needed. We all know what it’s like to plan out our week and then something comes up and we need to shift a lot of things around. Know that you need to be flexible when it comes to planning.
Plan to do your most important tasks during your high-energy time of day. This will help you to complete them faster and easier. Plan items of lesser importance at times when you don’t need to be as mentally alert or when your energy isn’t at its peak.
Leave plenty of time to complete your tasks. Things often take longer than you think they will. Build in some margin in case your time estimates are off. Don’t cram your days so full of activities that your plan actually starts to stress you out. The more stress you’re under, the less productive you are.
If possible, write down the first few steps for each task in your list — even a simple outline. This will save some time as you jump into each task. Any prior planning the night before will save you time and energy the following day.
Tip: Schedule in a few minutes at the end of each day to plan for the following day. This small but powerful habit will serve you for years to come.
As you can see, it doesn’t need to be hard or complicated to plan your day. Even with just a few minutes invested the night before, you can pave the way for a much easier and productive tomorrow. Try a little planning and enjoy the many benefits!