By Holly Uverity, CPO®, Office Organizers
Never underestimate the importance of planning. Period!
When people are asked how much time they spend planning, they normally say things like:
- I don’t have time to plan.
- I’m always putting out fires.
- No matter how I plan my time, it never happens so I don’t bother anymore.
- My to-do list is too long so I don’t know where to begin.
People often think that planning is a waste of their time; that the time they spend planning could be better spent on actually DOING something that’s on their list. And that’s the fallacy because planning is never a waste of time.
One of the fundamentals of diving is to never get into the water without a dive plan. On the surface, you and your dive buddy determine how long the dive will be, how deep you’ll go, where you’ll go, what you’ll do if you get separated, what you’ll do if there’s an emergency underwater, and anything else that’s unique to that dive. In the course of creating your dive plan, you’re also creating your contingency plan. There’s a rule in diving that says, “Plan your dive and dive your plan.” That is definitely not a waste of time.
So why can’t you create a rule that says, “Plan your work and work your plan”? Why can’t you spend quality time planning instead of putting out fires? Why can’t you create contingency plans so that when your plans get derailed by someone else’s needs, you’ll be able to get back on your own track?
Planning is essential in today’s business environment – specifically because there are fires to be put out and your coworkers and bosses have needs and demands that must be met.
Here are just a few reasons to plan:
To See the Big Picture
- How does what you’re doing fit into everything else that’s going on?
To See the Details
- What’s slipping through the cracks?
To Meet Your Goals
- How does what you’re doing fit with what you want to accomplish?
To Determine Resources
- How will you get what you need if you don’t know what you need?
To Work Proactively Instead of Reactively
- How you can you create anything in your work if you’re always working reactively?
To Get Back on Track When You’ve Been Pulled Away From Your Own Work
- How can you get back to your work if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing?
To Clearly Identify What’s Important to You
- Why spend your time, money and energy on low payoff items?
To Be Flexible
- How can you quickly shift gears if you have no room for movement?
Think of time in terms of different sized containers. Your day is a small container; your week is a larger one that holds your days; and your month is an even larger one that holds your weeks. You can expand this thinking to include your quarters and your year, each holding the other sized containers.
You know that you can’t haphazardly put items in a container and find what you need. If you haphazardly put items (tasks) into your day, week, or month containers, you’ll end up with a jumbled, disorganized mess.
Break your work into manageable chunks and then start mindfully placing your to-dos, tasks, and projects into your day, week, and month containers. Don’t fill your containers to the brim because just as you can’t find anything in an overstuffed drawer, you can’t get your work accomplished if you overstuff your day. As you’re planning, be sure to leave plenty of time unscheduled so you can be flexible when priorities change and your work shifts.
As we begin a new quarter, this is the perfect time to shift your thinking and move into a new, organized way of working.