Time management is the art of handling all your important tasks. A challenge, isn’t it? Planning is the primary time management tool to effectively channel your workflow in advance.
Of course, life carries its surprises. Some are guaranteed to throw plans up in the air. So creating a planning system that promotes flexibility dramatically increases your chances to feel successful at the end of the day.
I use what I call segmented planning to meet these daily changes and challenges. This is a simple tool to use, and it allows you to nimbly respond to change as your day progresses. Here’s what I suggest:
5 Steps to Successful Segmented Planning
1. Plan the first part of your day in the morning, or even the night before.
This schedule for Segment 1 of your day can be pretty detailed. For the rest of your day, plan in broader strokes. You’ll firm up what you’ve sketched out later, as the day takes shape.
2. Five minutes to fine-tune, once you’re on the scene.
As you enter into your busy day, you get a better idea what will be coming your way. Explore how new developments could affect this next period of time. Taking five minutes or so to adjust your plans accordingly will improve the flow of your morning segment. This is also your opportunity to modify your plan, depending on how energetic and focused you feel.
3. Wrap up the morning with ten minutes to firm up afternoon plans.
Observe how your morning went. Will you have more or less time than you expected to work on projects during the next part of your day? This is the time to add, remove, or tweak the timing on upcoming activities.
4. Schedule a review time for Segment #2.
As you flesh out your plans for Segment #2, set aside a ten-minute review time at the end of it, to take stock. Once you’ve used the review time to assess what you’ve accomplished and to identify new developments, revise plans for Segment #3 accordingly.
Continue this way throughout your day. You may find that you need quite a few distinct segments one day, and far fewer the next. But the sequence of steps for each segment will be the same, either way.
5. Validate and modify to keep enthusiasm high.
Planning systems work when they work for you. Provide yourself with plenty of support as you develop the skills to bring just the right balance of flexibility and firmness to the tasks at hand. The more encouragement you give yourself, the greater likelihood that you’ll tailor this system to your unique needs and temperament.
Giving yourself several times during the day where you can adjust to changes before moving ahead is a friendly and flexible way to chart your course and hold to it. The more you make it yours, the less resistant you will be to following through on it. I encourage you to give segmented planning a try. You’ll like what it does for your day!
So, what else can you do to make your day work for you?© Copyright 2010 Paula Eder, Ph.D.