“I don’t have time to plan.” “I want to plan, but I never follow it so why bother?” “Things are going to change anyway so why make a plan?”
Have you ever felt this way or thought these things? Many people KNOW they SHOULD plan or at least that it is recommended by any productivity consultant, coach or expert… but taking the time and effort to plan can be a challenge.
The first key is MINDSET. You have to trust and know that planning is worth your time, energy and effort. You have to trust that it will pay off and be confident you will be able to make decisions quicker and move faster when you have a plan, even if the plan changes or adaptations need to be made.
The second key is TIME. You must proactively give yourself time to plan and resist the urge to always be in the reactionary present. Your emails, people around you and life will usually have a great list of things they would like you to do and it easily can fill your day. People often don’t feel the burden or cost of this until the end of the day or week when they have not accomplished what they needed to do and feel perplexed where all their time went. This is a classic sign that planning was not done or if it was, then assess your boundaries.
The third key is BOUNDARIES. Once you have a plan of what you need to do, when you are going to do it and reasonable time frames and measurables for the task, it is a matter of sticking to it. There is nothing wrong with being flexible if you were going to work on the budget this AM from 7-9AM and a team emergency came up that you had to attend to. The important thing is that the time needs to be shifted to later in the day then, not just “missed” or “rescheduled” for next week. Boundaries also say no to fire drills and urgent requests that are not really urgent or a fire. Boundaries help your team understand time management and scheduling their time too…. group your communication so you have one email with 5 questions vs. 5 emails or one meeting with 3 topics vs. 3 interruptions. While the message it not to be ridged, a jerk or “talk to the hand” rude person, boundaries can be communicated in a kind, loving and professional way that helps you stick to your plan AND others to get their needs met as well. It is a balance and art of “juggling” but can be masters with a others focused heart that is relentless about focus and planning for the sake of everyone winning and being the best leader possible.