Planning is a critical piece of the puzzle in reaching your goals. Planning makes you extremely more productive because you have written down, and know exactly, what the major and the minor tasks are that you must accomplish each day.
How many times have you actually thought “Oh don’t forget to do that tomorrow!” Then tomorrow comes and you completely forget about that very important task that really needed to be done. You get slammed with so many interruptions and favors that you either forget or you put that important task on the back burner because other some other urgent, but probably not important task, was taken on by you.
Stephen Covey writes about this phenomenon of getting overwhelmed with unimportant activities in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.” He divides tasks into 4 quadrants. The quadrants are labeled with the tags of important, not important, urgent and not urgent.
Important is something that creates results while urgent items are time sensitive or pressing on us.
This is how the quadrants work:
Quadrant 1 – is Important and urgent – These things always get done because they are in your face and need to be taken care of right away like crises and result producing pressing issues.
Quadrant 2 – Important and not urgent – These are items that seem to always get put on the back burner of your life. This is where you really need to focus and plan because this is the quadrant where many goal action items can be accomplished. Goals seem to take a back seat and get bumped for urgent tasks or pressing issues. This is the quadrant you need to focus on – Important and not urgent.
Quadrant 3 – Not Important and urgent – These are things like some calls, some mail, pressing matters, and some meetings that are all time sensitive but not productive and they do not create results.
Quadrant 4 – Not important and not urgent – This is the fun square and it’s easy to spend a lot of time here. These are personal phone calls, emails, parties, pleasant activities, and busy work. Be careful not to spend too much of your time here. The key here is learning to say no to things that don’t produce results and have very little goal value.
Be conscientious of where you spend your time!
Now that you understand this theory of planning your time wisely, below are tips for planning.
You need a planner; just one calendar or planner.
1. Every evening write down your task for the next day and be sure to write down at least on major goal action item.
2. Write a specific time next to each task. This takes the guessing out of your day.
Let’s say you schedule to exercise at 6:00 a.m. When you wake up, you don’t say “Well should I work out?” No, you say “I have to get up, do my power start and get started on my work out!” And you are excited to do it!
Don’t use floating notes, which are pieces of paper not attached to anything of significance.
1. If you don’t carry a portable planner to write appointments and tasks in then carry a small spiral notebook.
2. Each evening when you begin to plan the next day, transfer everything to your planner, tear out that page and throw it away so you don’t have to look at it again.
Clear and organize your desk or work area at the end of every day. With an organized desk or work area you can jump right into your tasks saving you 15 to 30 minutes the next morning.
It is said that for every 10 minutes of planning, you will save at least one hour of time. This concept alone should motivate you to plan your day. This accounts for about 5 extra hours of time each week to work in quadrant 2!
Make it a habit to plan your day and watch your life positively change!
“What one thing could you do in your personal and professional life that, if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your life? Quadrant II activities have that kind of impact. Our effectiveness takes quantum leaps when we do them.” – Stephen R. Covey from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People