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Time management - Poor planning

Poor planning

Plan resistance

Perhaps it is something genetic that we inherit and start to apply as a teenager but most people have a fear of planning.
People think it tends to constrict us, suffocate ideas and generally gets in the way of the actual job in hand.

More specific reasons to avoid planning could be:

Time consuming:

It takes too long. I could be doing the job while I’m planning. I’m much too busy.
If you spend a few minutes each day planning, reviewing the plan and checking progress it will save time.
Provided of cause you keep a sense of perspective over the detail in daily plans. If not you drift into the area of too much detail and fall into the trap of the workaholic.

Fine as I am:

You may be doing OK but think how much better you could do with Time Management.
People often don’t like to change. They want to retain the status quo. Sometimes an element of risk puts people off.

Destroys creativity:

Many people feel claustrophobic with plans. They feel hemmed into a formal way of thinking.
If you create time through good Time Management then you can use that to be more creative. Managers should be more creative and strategic thinkers.

It will fail anyway:

What is the point of any plan, we all know they will fail? We need flexibility.
The risk of non completion of your primary goals is greater if you don’t plan your time wisely.
Good planning can prevent ‘risks’ occurring and improve the probability of success.

Top priority

Having worked out your list of priorities do the one on top of the list first.
That means first not after a little coffee break or examining the mail.
Its top priority ranking will stop ‘less important’ activities from interfering.

Once this is complete you will have a feeling of well being and every thing else will seem a lot less daunting.

Planning hierarchy

Remember that the daily plan falls into a hierarchy of plans. Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.

They all stem from an overall goal.
However, we often refer to goals on a daily basis or weekly etc.

The goal here is the key thing(s) we wish to achieve in that time period.
A daily goal will be an objective for the weekly goal and in turn the weekly one will constitute an objective for the monthly goal etc.

We wouldn’t expect to plan purely on a daily basis with no view of the bigger picture. So a weekly plan is preferred with its goals with daily plans forming the lower levels of the hierarchy.

Paper v software

Whilst it is a good place to start, recording your plan and items like ‘to do lists’ have a habit of expanding into other bits of paper and getting lost. If you can make the effort to record every thing that you require for your daily and weekly plans in one place.
This is best done with software. It is easy to update and reduces the clutter of paper.

You will also need to develop a good filing system, see ‘filing notes’ and ‘day files’.

The sort of things you will need to record are:

  • List of goals.
  • Appointments (internal and external).
  • Meetings (internal and external).
  • ‘To-do’ lists.
  • Time of tasks.
  • Deadlines of tasks.
  • Call backs.
  • Contact details of key persons you communicate with.
  • Notes from telephone conversations.
  • Quiet time.
  • Assistant meeting.
  • Opening mail.

It can be a very good idea (if adopted company wide) to have the quiet time first thing in the morning.
If this is linked to an edict restricting all meeting starts till after this the day can be planned much more efficiently.
Very few people are keen on meetings as soon as they get to work and probably not very alert.

Plan visibility

When you have your plan post it where it is clearly visible.
It will act as a constant reminder and keep you on track.
It is very useful to refer to quickly if interruptions occur

Stick to it

Try to keep to the plan as much as possible.
If senior managers try to interrupt or give you new tasks to do then refer to your priority list of tasks.
Tell them what you are working on and if they want you to take up the new task ask them to confirm any change in priorities.

Non - PRINCE2 information