Why should you plan, and more importantly, put your plans down in printed form? Because! That’s why! Why does that explanation never work for me? It doesn’t work with my teenagers either… I am going to talk another time about goal setting and even further about manifestation and vision boards and all of the great stuff that I believe you can do when you set your mind to it. Right now I just want to talk about why is it is important to have a plan for your time.
First, let me ask you this question. To what extent do you plan your life? Do you have a communication center in your home where you and your family plan every minute detail of your day? Do you keep a paper planner or electronic planner with your appointments, business goals, grocery lists? Do you use an app on your phone or email calendar to keep track of things for work? For home too? Or no? Do you plan at all? Research shows that two-thirds of people do not budget, which is a disastrous concept that we will talk about another time, but there is no data available on how many people actually make a plan. If you don’t plan where your money is coming from, or where you think it goes, I am betting you don’t plan your time either. Let’s talk!
So why should I plan? Well, the quotes I have chosen for this article by names you may recognize can’t be disqualified, but there are real reasons why it is important to plan. I love the old road map adage for goal setting so you will likely hear me use it again. You would never consider setting out on a road trip without having a map, or an idea of your final destination, right? If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know when you get there? So why would you ever consider going through life without knowing WHERE you are going and how you will know when you have “arrived”? And this concept goes beyond goals, I am talking literally….how do you know where you are going? I wake up in the morning, pre-coffee and rocking the Mom brain, and I have no idea what day it is…I have a plan for my day that I refer to so that I know WTF I am supposed to be doing and where I am supposed to be, and when. One of the perils of not having a day job to go to at the same time every day is that sometimes I show up at the wrong place…or, at the right place, but at the wrong time. Without a plan, I would be lost. Sometimes I still get lost WITH a plan. I will talk more about my planner, in a minute, but first I want to give you some more reasons to plan.
Planning makes you happy! Don’t believe me? A Time magazine article (which you can find in it’s entirety here) explains that a recent survey by psychologist and self-help author Robert Epstein found that 25% of our happiness hinges on how well we’re able to manage stress. The stress management technique that worked best, according to the survey: planning. In other words, “fighting stress before it even starts, planning things rather than letting them happen,” says Epstein. “That means planning your day, your year and your life so that stress is minimized.” Think about it. You have probably heard that when you have trouble falling asleep and can’t get your brain to turn off you should put pen to paper and journal. Getting things off your chest helps to quiet fear and uncertainty in your brain, so that you can rest. Many successful folks say that they like to plan their next day right before bed. That way they can go to sleep without worrying about what is coming up the following day. When you have a solid plan for the future, there is nothing to worry about, right? Well, except for unforeseen obstacles, but you can even plan for those!
Planning can help you anticipate those obstacles and thus likely avoid them. When I was married, my husband would often refer to something that was happening in a month or so and comment that he would worry about that “when the time comes”. And then the time would come and it would be a crisis. By addressing things that are on the horizon, whether that is your car insurance bill, a birthday or other major holiday, or a job-related deadline, we take the stress out of those things and can foresee a problem before it becomes a major deal. One of the best things I ever did for myself when I was on the bumpy road to financial stability and constantly worried about money and how I was going to support myself and my children, was to write my bills and their due dates in my planner (Cat’s out of the bag, I use a paper planner). By writing the bills and their amounts and writing my paydays and anticipated pay I could see if I was going to be in the red or black when the eagle landed and make a plan for that. Sure beats overdraft charges and shuffling money between accounts the night before, folks!! Now that I have a little cushion, I only track major expenditures, but it is still a practice that works wonders for my piece of mind!
Planning helps to feed your sense of accomplishment. When you write down your to-do list (or use a fantastic app like Asana or Trello) and systematically check off the items completed as you rock them out throughout the day, it feels GOOD! How many times have you, at the end of a busy day, fallen into bed feeling like you didn’t get a damn thing done? Never? Lucky you! I used to feel like that MOST days. Now, my babies were still alive and were clothed and not crying, and the dog hadn’t pooped in the house so surely I had accomplished something, but my self-esteem suffered based on that feeling of pseudo-failure. Now, I check off the crap on my list, breaking big projects down into little bites, and at the end of the day when I wonder where the F the day went…boom, there it is in tasks crossed out. Sometimes I even recap, give myself a little pat on the back, and because congratulating myself out loud would make me seem crazy, whisper a heartfelt “Good job!”
Alright, Tracey, you have convinced me. I will plan, but how do I do it? Well, I will get into goal setting and long-term planning another time, but for now, plan your day. Get yourself a planner. You can use a digital version if that is the way you roll but for me, it is good old paper. I love opening up that book and writing all over it. My schedule, projects, my kids activities, the weekends they are with me and which they are with their Dad…it all goes in there. Plus stickers, Post-Its, and sometimes business cards and other relevant stuff gets shoved in there too. I have an Erin Condren Life Planner and have used her planners since 2015. They are colorful with tons of varieties and formats to choose from. I can customize my cover (mine has a meaningful saying and my name on the front and a picture of me with my besties on the back) and lots of other options that I love including a bookmark and pockets. There are other choices too. My good friends at Brilliant Business Moms also have a new planner coming out for 2016 that you could check out too if you are an entrepreneur and want extra pages for goal setting and charting your course in your business. The important part is not which planner you choose (disclaimer: if you purchase an Erin Condren planner using the link here, I get a small credit to use towards my next planner) but rather that you actually USE one.
Start with mapping out your life a day ahead of time. Where do you need to be? What do you need to get done? Do not load up your list with a hundred tasks, the overwhelm is real folks and if you are like me, a long list will send you crawling back to bed for puppy snuggles. Make it realistic. Feel the accomplishment of checking your plan throughout the day and seeing your progress. Knock out those tasks one at a time (multi-tasking isn’t really a thing) and I guarantee you that you will get more done in your day when you have a clear plan for what you need to achieve.
What kinds of things are you planning? What project would you like to get done by the end of the week…break it down into smaller tasks and put one or two on each day and then crush them!! Big or small, share your plans with me and leave a comment! I am planning to go online and pick which planner I am going to pick for 2017! Until next time!