We all know that time management is an essential part of running a successful business, and without a doubt, one of the keys to successful time management is planning. Planning your time is crucial if you want to be more productive, get more done in less time and achieve your goals, no matter how large or small. This is true for all areas of your life, not just in business.
Why is planning your time so vital?
Making a plan and sticking to it has many benefits; important tasks won’t be forgotten, you’ll use your time more efficiently and you’ll be less frazzled with everything you need to do in a day. Of course it’s only possible if you know what you should spend your time on and that means that a good plan is a necessary pre-requisite to being able to manage your time properly.
Planning also includes a couple of psychological benefits. Two of these are that having a clear plan and managing it:
- Gives you a sense of being in control – this gives you confidence and reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed. It reduces your stress levels and lets you think more clearly.
- Highlights the progress you’re making – you can tick off the steps to move towards your goals.
Being in control and making progress towards a goal are strong human motivators. You’ll be more organised, will achieve more in the same amount of time and you’ll be far less likely to procrastinate (a major productivity killer!).
How to ensure your plan works for you
When you’re putting your plan together, be sure to:
- Start with the end first
The goals you set need to be SMART ones – that is, Specific, Measureable, Achievable, a Result and Time-scaled. You won’t know where you’re headed unless you look at the finish line and work backwards.
- Make sure your goals are exciting to you
Do your goals excite you, and are they aligned with your long term goals? If not, you’ll find it hard to stick to a plan.
- Use as many steps as necessary
Outline the steps needed to achieve your goal. This makes the overall goal more manageable and structured.
- Make sure the steps are realistic
Including too many things to work on at once, or not leaving yourself enough time is going to be a goal killer. Look at the steps in your plan and determine whether they can realistically all be achieved in the time you’ve allowed.
- Monitor your progress
Make sure each step is SMAT – specific, measurable, achievable and has time allocated. It’s similar to SMART goals, yet because they are just steps in a plan, they are not each a result.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” so with this in mind, start planning today! For more information about time management and planning, download your free eBook “The Real Guide to Effective Time Management” here.