One of the easiest things to dismiss when we’re busy is taking the time to PLAN.  Often our attention is drawn to other things so it’s easy to ignore – or forget – why this activity can be so beneficial.  Here are 5 reminders as to how taking 30 minutes to plan your week can really pay off in time saved and lower stress:

  1. You know where to begin – Without a plan for your day or week, we start our day being drawn to what captures our attention most in that moment.  Sometimes it’s an urgent issue which needs to be done, but sometimes it’s less important – or even wasteful.  Planning your week and then working your plan means you know just where to begin and the decision on what gets your attention will have been made at a time when you’re thinking strategically about which activities are truly most important.  And which ones are NOT.
  2. You don’t have to carry all those “to do”s around in your head.  Are you susceptible to stopping what you are doing NOW so you can take care of something “so you don’t forget it later”?  When you plan, you decide when is the BEST time to do an activity and get it scheduled.  The payoff is that you won’t fall prey to interruptions that derail what you need to be doing AND you don’t have to keep having the “head clutter” or reminding yourself over and over about those tasks you need to do.
  3. You’re less likely to procrastinate.  Adding very specific tasks to your task list increases your likelihood of actually getting them done.  Avoid broad entries such as “work on XYZ project” – instead, try “Set date for next XYZ project meeting, review data on last year’s 4th quarter sales, etc.”.  Not only do the tasks seem more manageable, you won’t have to go back to decide what the next step is on the XYZ project when you sit down to work on it.
  4. It can cut back on clutter!  Believe it or not, planning can allow you to keep your workspace clear.  How?  Not relying on papers and items as your reminders means you can gives “homes” to pending items and specific tasks can be built into your plan – – alleviating the need to keep EVERYTHING visible in order to see what has to get done.
  5. It saves TIME!  As counter-intuitive as it seems at times, planning can save you minutes and even hours.  A good plan means all the strategic thinking happens at once and your days can be used for accomplishing what needs to get done.  You don’t need to go back to the drawing board each day to decide what’s up next or what is important today. Each day, you should only need to “course correct” – adding things that come up, removing items that are no longer needed, or moving tasks as needed to accommodate for changes in your plan.  It is even said that planning what you’ll cover when calling someone saves time – an unplanned call takes an average of 12 minutes, a planned call only 7.

Cindy B Sullivan is a Time Management & Productivity Consultant and Certified Professional Organizer.  Providing coaching, consulting, and training, Cindy enjoys helping clients “Organize the Time Of Their Life”.  Want to assess your own time management skills?  Take the 6 Pillars assessment here and follow Cindy on Facebook at cbSullivan Consulting & Organizing