Last time we discussed Live to work or work to live. Part 3. Objectives: how to bring dreams to reality. Today, we keep exploring the topic with a review of tips of time planning.
We talked about setting long-term goals in life. But between goals and results is a large amount of routine work. How to organize it, how to pave the right path to achieving results?
The first thing you need to do is to get rid of self-abasement like “I can’t plan anything, I arrange everything at last moment, I always live in hectic activity”. Enough! When we want to – we are quite capable of planning.
Look around: you will find organized, motivated, competent people, who reasonably plan their work while still staying open to spontaneity and emotions. Let’s focus on the best examples, not on the worst. It is easy to meet deadlines, just start planning wisely and thoughtfully. Right now, today, not tomorrow. Get down!
The law of the time management says that daily planning should always be.
Bad news: “ten e-mails in the “Inbox”, five stickers on the monitor, fifteen “reminders” – it’s not daily planning at all. The daily plan should be in one place and certainly in writing. Furthermore, the plan may be in Outlook or Excel, on a paper or in a diary – it does not matter.
A frequent objection to the daily planning is that everything is changing rapidly. But the plan is the way to navigate in the changing circumstances.
How to make a flexible, convenient and not very strict plan? You must take into account that the plan must be material (in paper or electronic form). Our head is not able to keep too much information at once. Be sure to write down all the tasks for the day and regularly browse through this list. This will require only a few minutes, but it gives you the manageability and controllability of your tasks, the ability to remember everything and to prioritize.
When is the best time to plan? Both plannings in the evening and in the morning have its pros and cons:
But in any case, the plan shouldn’t be treated as a law. The plan must be constantly adjusted to the changing circumstances. It takes a maximum of 5-7 minutes of the day and saves hours and sometimes weeks free from unnecessary work.
If your day in the diary is filled with lots of tasks and appointments, it is better to have a separate printed blank form and plan your day on them.
You can plan the tasks that are not tied to a specific day on a special tab or on stickers, clings to the pages. It will allow you not to overwrite these tasks several times from one day to another. It’s also useful to put the key tasks on some stickers or “Strategic cardboard”.
The diary should be beautiful, aesthetic in time management is important as anywhere else. The diary contains the most expensive thing – your time. Don’t spare money on a good leather cover, expensive pen, use different colors, interesting bookmarks, etc.
Such a simple thing as a bookmark gives rich opportunities to improve planning in the diary. Take a sheet of heavy paper or cardboard, use it as a bookmark in the diary. On this sheet you can:
But the most useful application of this bookmark – use it as a “strategic cardboard”.
This classification helps to optimally combine rigid and flexible scheduling. Meetings are planned rigidly and “flexible” problems – more gently. The following algorithm of scheduling the next day is recommended:
Note that this plan has a lot of free space for maneuvering. Through this plan is resistant to any external interference. If a new task appears, you simply add it to the “flexible” list, evaluate its priority and start execution.
When planning “flexible” tasks that are not tied to a particular time, it’s recommended to use a simple technique – Results-oriented list.
Use strong verbs, effective and clear formulation of the result. You may remember what is the task about. But imagine the task in your thoughts and fix it in writing with energetic formulations – it’s two completely different things.
When you’ve compiled a result-oriented task list, you need to mark it by priority.
Priority tasks are the ones that we do first. On this basis, the highest priority has the following types of tasks:
A prioritized list of tasks is actually a flexible plan, because it does not adhere to the rigid execution of the tasks, but dictates the sequence of tasks. First – specifying, then – vital, and finally, if there is time, – all the rest.
Naturally, when budgeting you can not always accurately predict the duration of the work. It’s okay, the accuracy of your predictions will eventually rise. It’s better to estimate the duration of work inaccurate than not to do any assessment at all. Once you start planning time, you will have a much more tough and realistic look at your task list – but then the percentage of its actual execution will grow.
It remains to analyze the last element of the plan of the day: the “rigid” meetings tied to a specific time.
No matter how chaotic and unpredictable our life is, people will judge how responsible you will perform your business obligations in the future based on how punctual you are. So, not to be late, when scheduling appointments it’s necessary to reserve time for:
Many people, unfortunately, are not accustomed to think realistically about time. And they are even less realistic in assessing the duration of meetings, time on the road and time for preparation. In project management specialists have a saying: “Multiply the budget of a project by two, the duration by three – and you’ll get the real numbers”. Act similarly when planning the meetings – add at least 20% to your initial evaluation.
When planning meetings, the question of punctuality necessarily arises. You should be accurate. But how much accurate?
It is desirable to specify the required accuracy with a partner in advance. And during the teamwork such preferences should be developed and be part of the corporate culture.
To organize your day more effectively it’s recommended to less rely on your plans and expectations as things can change and it will change all your plans.
In such situations helps the principle of “information redundancy”: collect not only the necessary information for the implementation of plans but also the additional information that can help you if something goes wrong.
When preparing meetings you should not only collect the redundant information, but be sure to:
You spend 2-3 minutes on such reinsurance and your counterpart in case of force majeure can save a lot of time and effort. In addition, with the help of such simple steps, you reinforce your image of a responsible, punctual person, who respects all the undertaken agreements and obligations.
It’s recommended to use the following checklist when scheduling the appointments:
Adjust the personal planning system of the day using the “rigid” and “flexible” tasks to plan realistically and always have time to perform the important ones.
Summary of recommendations:
Stay tuned for the second part of the article Live to work or work to live. Part 5. Planning: how to meet deadlines.