“If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” -Jim Rohn
Now there's a quote that'll get you thinking. And it's just as true for your daily plan as it is for your life plan. When you don't have a plan for your day or week, it's like saying, “Hey everybody, whatever anybody wants to do today, that's cool with me!”
Planning out your day is one of the most powerful productivity hacks there is – for you as well as for your kids. The better you plan your day, the better you can (help them) plan theirs!
Planning Fail #1
Few of us actually have a well-oiled habit of planning. Even if you've tried in the past to incorporate some planning mechanisms …an app, a planner… chances are it's just sitting on your phone or bookshelf, collecting dust.
But there are a few tricks to having a planning plan that sticks. The first one is called, “How to Plan Your Day in 13 Easy Steps!”
Um. Just kidding…This is how NOT to plan your day.
In fact, this is Planning Fail #1 – the top reason people don't stick with a planning process or system! Overly elaborate planning schemes are doomed to fast failure.
So what DOES work? Here's a super-simple planning process that takes just 5 steps in 5 minutes a day...
STEP 1: Right now (yes, I mean right now), set a repeating calendar item in your smart phone or laptop calendar. Set it for 5 minutes before the approximate time each morning just before you open your computer or check your emails, or start wrangling the kids. Set a 5 minute appointment called “PLAN.”
STEP 2: In the morning at that time, set a 5 minute timer, and then…two words...No Touchie! This means, do not open anything! No laptops! No browsers! No emails! No Touchie!!
STEP 3: Plan your day. Write it with pen and paper (yes, pen and paper). What's a plan? Just your key appointments and no more than three key objectives (must-do's) for the day.
STEP 4: This one's most important. Create calendar entries for each of your key must-do's. Calendarizing – stating both WHEN and WHERE you will do them -- dramatically increases the odds of completion.
STEP 5: Set a repeating reminder for a few times during the day, ideally once an hour, to ask yourself whether you're still focused on your plan. If you're not, get a little ticked off (in a self-loving way) and get back at it. During the last reminder of the day, spend a few minutes reviewing how you did overall.
How's Your Progress?
Now, when you re-focus or review, you may find yourself off track, doing totally the wrong thing. Or you may find that despite your planning, you still didn't get as much done as you'd hoped. That may happen at first. Even if you get ticked off, try not to get down…because as soon as you go negative, you'll begin building the rationale for abandoning your planning plan. “Ah, it's not workin'…it's not for me…”
More Planning Failures to Avoid
This is why Planning Fail #2 is All-Or-Nothing thinking. So what? So you didn't start today off with your planning session. So you didn't stay on a task. So you got sidetracked for half your day on some legitimately urgent issue. Stuff happens!
Successful people will stick with it, through good days and bad...until it becomes routine...a daily ritual.
And behold, Planning Fail #3: Not ritualizing your planning plan. If it ain't a ritual, it ain't gonna be there a year from now. This is why it's so important not to go negative if you don't do it perfectly or consistently. Just…keep…doing it…imperfectly. You'll see the benefits roll in…and it will become ritualized.
I'll leave you with one more great Jim Rohn quote... “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” So...Make a plan! (and keep it simple!)