Planning, or more specifically, time planning, is the kind of topic that you’ve probably read about on lots of time management blogs.
In fact, you may be tempted to stop reading because you’ve tried time planning before and it hasn’t really helped. But don’t stop … because I think you’ll find this a different, intriguing and very practical perspective on planning.
If you Google planning or time planning you’ll find lots of websites offering tips, strategies, study guides, techniques, and templates. Often, the focus boils down to creating schedules that operate on two fronts:
- The planning you do involves assigning increments of time to particular tasks; and
- The tasks are often incremental steps toward attaining goals that you ave identified.
That’s all well and good; but I’d like to propose an entirely different way of thinking about this. It’s a flexible approach to planning – and as you consider it, I think you’ll come to see how it helps you streamline your time and make the most of your moments.
Here it is:
“Planning is a series of decisions that you make ahead of time – so you don’t have to worry about them later.“
The big difference here is that I am shifting your focus from time allocation to time choices. You see, the more choices you are able to make ahead-of-time, the more you’ll be able to focus on whatever most needs your attention in the moment.
If you think about planning your day, or planning a project or task, there are often quite literally hundreds of decisions that need to be made. And there’s a flow to these decisions. Thinking of this as a dance isn’t too far off the mark, as each choice you make affects the next.
So, planning becomes a process whereby you visualize your day (or task, or project) and move through it. Notice where you need to make decisions and time choices.
You are familiarizing yourself with the terrain, almost like a dress rehearsal. Your decisions are made ahead of time, and in fluid relation to one another. Doesn’t this have a different feel and look than a rigidly-scheduled series of time slots?
When you’ve planned from this perspective and then actually start doing the task or working on the project, you bring confidence and agility to the enterprise. You know where you’re going, have already made most of the basic time choices, and are able to respond to changes and unexpected glitches with flexibility and focus.
What this means, ultimately, is that you work more efficiently and effectively – AND you find more time!© Copyright 2014 Paula Eder, Ph.D.