Five Things To Think About For Five Minutes on the subject of PLANNING AHEAD
1. Start at the end and work backwards.
Some would wonder immediately, "If I'm planning ahead, then I need to know what my next step is going to be, what should I do today to get ready for tomorrow?" I believe that question is more easily answered, in fact, more intelligently answered, by starting at where you want be and working backwards. Envision what the completed task, event, project will look like completed and then begin the process of moving from the completed state to the various things that will need to be done along the way. This will help you to set better deadlines and...
2. Break big stuff into little pieces.
Most of the time, when a large project or task is looming in front of us, we are overwhelmed to the point of never starting. When we wait (dare I say, procrastinate), the task will not get smaller. If anything, it gets bigger and more daunting. That's why we should immediately break bigger tasks into more manageable sizes. Divide it into steps that we can accomplish in short period of times or even delegate to others. Accomplishment of one small step provides motivation to keep going and gets us off the starting block (43folders invites us to Run A Dash).
3. Develop a reminder system.
Some people spend a lot of time planning for the future, but then fail to follow through on those plans because they have no way of remembering what they were supposed to do and when they were supposed to do it. Carry some type of planner. Write things down in a place that you will revisit. Make notes to yourself that remind you of the important things you were supposed to do. (Here's a great idea from lifehacker.com for using Yahoo calendar as a reminder system)
4. Flex as the future unfolds.
Try as hard as we might, our plans often get messed up. There are circumstances, interruptions, and natural life occurances that don't feel the need to get our permission before they happen. That's why planning ahead requires room for flexibility. No one knows what tomorrow brings. Build some space into your planning for just in case. Don't be so married to your plans that it throws you into a complete tailspin if you can't follow your plan perfectly. In fact, think of your planning as a compass, rather than a map. Planning should give you direction.
5. Start now. Do something.
Some people are addicted to planning (or the idea of planning). They get excited about all the tools you can use to plan, all the latest, hip ideas that planning gurus offer. But their planning ends up being all that there is...just planning. Planning is not a means to an end. We plan so that we can accomplish (both efficiently and effectively) the tasks that need to be done. I believe that planning is vital to accomplishment. But if we never start, then we are wasting time. Implement your plans.