Do You Plan to Succeed?

By: Eva Gregory

The key is to plan your week in a way that ensures important tasks are done, while releasing your creativity. Let's look at 6 steps to do just that.

1. Use a master task list. One of the problems with planning is that you feel you must decide *now* when each task will be done, which creates unhealthy pressure. The way around this problem is to create a master list of everything that needs to be done, then use your master list to plan. When a new task needs to be added to a list, add it to this list. Having a master list (only *one* list) provides peace of mind since you don't have to worry about forgetting those important things that need YOUR attention.

2. Set aside a block of time to plan. No interruptions during this time. It may take up to 5 hours for your first serious planning session. When you plan, try limiting your work hours. Don't say "as many hours as it takes" (YOU deserve a life too!) but rather "Monday thru Friday from 7 to 5" or whatever works best for you. Be realistic, yet flexible, and you will feel a greater sense of freedom and less like an employee of your day planner.

3. Prioritize using an A,B,C system. Too basic? Try doing it this way.

A task is not an "A" task unless it costs you money, or will ruin your reputation if you fail to do it. "B" tasks are important, but the world won't end if you don't do them. EVERYTHING else is a "C" task. Using this method will cause you to list fewer "A" tasks but likely get more of them done.

4. Make an APPOINTMENT with yourself to do the top five "A" tasks. Treat it like any other appointment. Don't let it slide. If you want to never again end a busy week only to realize that the most important things were left undone, put your "A" tasks on your calendar.

5. Plan using a weekly calendar. People often think in week long units naturally. Monthly planning is too long range and daily planning can dissolve into simply managing the next crisis. Remember, YOU are in control. Start by placing "A" tasks down as if they were appointments, because now they are. "B" tasks can be handled when you have open time while "C" tasks may simply have to wait. 6. Be immovable. This is the key. You have planned your week, and unless it's VERY serious, don't change your plan.

I recently heard the story of a top insurance agent on the West Coast. The president of her company wanted to see her on a particular Tuesday, but didn't call until Monday. Firmly and politely she told him that she couldn't see him until Friday. When they saw each other on Friday, he inquired where she had been all week. "Right here in L.A." she replied. More than a little steamed, he told her that he had to take two out-of-the-way flights to re-arrange to see her on Friday. Her reply was straight to the point. "I spent 4 hours planning my week before you called me." She showed him what she had done on Tuesday. It was impressive to say the least. Then she made this simple statement. "Bill, the reason I'm your #1 agent is that I don't allow anyone or anything to disrupt the schedule I work so hard to set." With this he couldn't argue.

When you learn to do things in their order of importance, the feeling of "There's something I'm supposed to doPsychology Articles, but what is it?" will leave you entirely. This frees your mind. Keep yourself on track by asking "What is the best use of my time for the next 30 minutes?" Plan your work and you WILL succeed.

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