by Donna Birk
Everybody plans. When you decide to do something and then do
it, even if its at the spur-of-the-moment, that's planning. Most
of us can decrease the level of stress in our day to day lives by
improving our planning habits. Here are ten tips to help you move
toward more effective planning.
1. Keep all of your planning tools and forms together in one
place. This way, youll know where to go to check on anything
and when you check on one item, the others will be there, reminding
you that they might need to be reviewed, too.
2. Plan ahead of time, however frequently you plan. If you plan
daily, decide on your daily plan at the end of the previous day;
if you plan weekly, decide on your weekly plan at the end of the
previous week, and so forth. Youll be able to go home without
taking your work with you and youll come to work knowing exactly
what you need to accomplish.
3. Separate your planning from your doing. Take time specifically
to plan what youre going to do rather than having that get
mingled in with your doing. Youll just get more done if you
plan it and then do it instead of "planning on the go."
The very first item on any to-do list should be "plan my day,
week, month, etc." Start simple and keep it as simple as you
4. Dont try to imitate the people who deal with all kinds
of complicated calendars, schedules, matrixes, flow charts, PERT
diagrams, Gannt charts, etc. Make your planning a natural process
for yourself by choosing things that you understand and can easily
5. Stretch yourself on an ongoing basis and try out something
new. If, after giving it a fair shot, it doesnt work, you
can and should leave it out of your repertoire. You only grow and
increase your effectiveness, however, by moving out of your comfort
6. Quiz other friends, colleagues, and coworkers about how they
plan and what works for them. Ill be each one will have at
least one great idea for you to try!
7. Remember that planning is an ongoing process. None of us maintain
it absolutely 100% of the time with 100% effort. Try for 80%, knowing
that there will be times when you pass and others when you are absolutely
8. Make being proactive a personal priority for you. This means
taking charge of your life by taking action and utilizing your personal
planning style. Avoid being reactive, or waiting for things to happen
to which you then respond or react.
9. Choose planning tools that help you to organize your meetings,
appointments, tasks, projects, etc. in a consolidated manner. For
example, find one form that serves more than one function, rather
than having to deal with 6 different papers. If youre using
something that doesnt help you feel organized, replace it
with something that will.
10. Respect your time by learning how to deal with interruptions.
Become an expert at distinguishing the truly important priorities
from the daily crises that tend to steal your time.
Suggested Further Reading