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Plan your goal to achieve it

Time to planHave you ever had so many goals you want to achieve but become overwhelmed by the amount of work facing you? I certainly have struggled managing all my projects. There’s so much I want to get done but I never seem to have enough time in the day. Which is why I asked Lorraine Spence, a certified project manager to tell us how she handles planning.  

This is a guest post by Lorraine Spence, LS Consulting

The first thing I am going to tell you about planning is to stop planning. Stop planning and take a step back. Then answer these questions:

  • Do you know why you have set your goal?
  • Are you prepared to make the time to work on this goal?
  • Do you know the importance of planning?
  • Do you practice good time management?
  • Are you committed to creating a plan and using it?

Without understanding why you are doing something, you risk not achieving it, and you also make the journey less fun. If you don’t understand why you have set yourself a goal, it won’t work, because real motivation does not exist without knowing the Why.

If your goal is meaningful and you understand why you want to achieve it, then you will make the time to achieve it. So this is about being honest with yourself. Even after understanding your goal and creating a plan you may decide against it. Other goals you have may take priority, and you decide that you don’t have time to do it. This is totally OK. You cannot do everything at once – you need to schedule some things for a later date. Trying to do it all at once is setting yourself up for failure.

Now you understand why you want to achieve something and because of this you have the motivation. Because you have the motivation you will make time to work on this goal. I once read somewhere the discipline is more important than motivation. But, discipline goes hand in hand with planning, because without a plan you have no idea what to be disciplined about. Discipline means having the commitment to use the plan you have created.

Planning is the difference between being REACTIVE and PROACTIVE. Abraham Lincoln reportedly once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Now that is good planning.

So why is planning so important?

Planning is important because it saves time in the long run. Before a doctor starts an operation, the nurses make sure all the instruments are ready. If they ran around looking for the instruments when required, imagine the time wasted.

Good planning will reduce your stress level and therefore help you sleep at night. This means you will be ready to face the next day full of energy.

Good planning means that you can work on many projects at a time and achieve them. On the other hand, trying to do everything at once without a plan, all may fail.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘running around like a headless chicken’’. That is what we act like when are reacting to every situation as it comes up and haven’t got a proper plan.

Good planning means that you never need to ask the questions ‘’where do I start’’ or ‘’what do I do next’’

Good planning means managing your time according to a plan. Trying to meet the immediate needs of others will pull you in all directions. No one can manage your time except you, so following a plan is not being selfish – it is being sensible. There is only so much of you to go around. You need to prioritise and you must know the top priority. How will it help your family and friends if you burn out?

Map out your calendar

Effective management demands a plan. Before you start planning for a specific goal or project you need to plan for your time. So understand what each day of your week should look like, and also build a plan on a monthly basis. When you plan 1, 2 or 5 projects you can fit them into your weekly / monthly timetable. The time plan includes not only your various projects, but household chores…and social life.

The Pareto principle states that if you have 10 things to do, only 2 are super IMPORTANT. So to “leverage” your time, give less attention to activities that are urgent but unimportant and devote more time to things that are important but not urgent. To apply this principle, you need to prioritise your activities, which you do when you plan. Good time management also includes scheduling time to mop up those little bits that need doing but never seem to get done.

The last thing I am going to tell you about planning is to give yourself a break. Sometimes you’re feeling down / overwhelmed / exhausted and feel like spending a day doing nothing and reading a book. We all need a day off sometimes; we all need a lazy day. Have one and enjoy it and be kind to yourself about it because feeling bad about it defeats the whole purpose.

Would you like to find out more about planning? Join us at the Project Planning for the Non Project Manager course on the 20th April 2017 in Zurich.

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