Tips for planning ahead

Tips for planning ahead

Through making a lot of mistakes in this area, I learned the importance of planning. If you do it right, it saves you time, it enables you to look at the bigger picture and through the process of writing it down, it clears your mind. Therefore, I wanted to share the tips for planning I learned throughout the years!

Simplicity

When you search online for tips on how to plan, you often get bombarded with the most extensive and detailed templates. There is a schedule on when to water your plants, when to send that work e-mail and when to relax even. My tip? Keep it simple! I use two planners: one for work and one for other things. In addition, I use two ‘to-do’ lists with the same themes. I also have planners for social media, but I weekly incorporate them into my general planners as well. In these planners, I need the date (and sometimes time), a section for things I might need to prepare, the task itself and the location. The task of preparing will also be put into my to do list on ‘high priority’.

Importance vs. timeframe

When you are planning your task, I like to use the Eisenhower matrix for planning:

Eisenhower matrix

It allows me to decide on what to do first, especially when there are tasks I’ve been avoiding or when I am very busy. If the priority is high and it’s urgent, you should do it right away. In case it is important, but the deadline is still far away, you should take time to plan it. If it isn’t important, but urgent, you should see if you can delegate the task to someone else (or a service). In case it’s not important and not urgent, why would you even consider it? If you are strict with this, you’ll find that a lot falls into the delegate or eliminate category. Especially in times of stress, everything can seem important and urgent. This model will help you to put this in perspective.

Take your time

I used to see planning as a waste of time when I was busy. Why should I write down what to do instead of just doing it right away? However, I have found that this costs you more time. If you would just spend 15 minutes on planning, you’ll work more efficiently. You’ll also be less likely to postpone or forget tasks. In addition, it prevents you from doing things that could be delegated or removed. Thus, you have to make sure you really take some time for this, especially if it’s not your strong suit.

The other thing that it helped me with was to learn when I was most efficient. I am an evening person, so it is important for me to do ‘the boring stuff’ like administration first. I’ll then do the creative stuff later, since I’ll be more likely to get into a flow-state in the afternoon.

Write it down

I am a huge fan of writing things down, since it’s easier to remember this way. It also helps me to be stricter in my planning. I don’t like crossing things out, so I will think about the appointment more in advance. I have also found that, I tend to think about the appointment more deeply. This is probably, because hand-written plannings look more chaotic. This makes me realise that I’m planning too much in. I love visualising things, so to have it summed up in my planner (or in a block scheme) works better for me. Digital planners often don’t show the full text, which I find more chaotic than full texts.

To do lists

However, this is just for my general plannings. My to-do lists are on my phone and computer, since there are often tasks that I’ll forget to write down otherwise. For this, I use an app called Trello. In Trello, I divide my tasks per section, so for instance ‘Finance’, ‘Cleaning’ and ‘Groceries’. I also gave every task a label, like ‘High, medium or low priority’, or ‘Continuous tasks’. This way, I can easily see which tasks I need to do first and which to low-key check up on from time to time, like feeding my hamster and watering my plants. I have again one board on here for my private life and one for work-related tasks. The best thing is that you can also share boards. So, for work, you could also make one for you and all your colleagues to see what needs to happen. In that case, columns can be either divided per person or the labels can be the person. The first is better if tasks in your team are clearly divided. The second option is better if people have to work together on projects.

Tips for planning ahead

Make it fun

If you are like me, you like things to be your way. Although it seems like a waste of time, making your planner/to-do list more personal and specified to your needs might help to motivate you to actually do it. I always do some research before I buy a planner into how it’s organised, but also into it’s look. I also sometimes swap to a bullet journal, to make it even more personalised to me. My Trello boards are also personalised to my goals. In the back is a photo of Greece to excite me for future holidays (I am crazy about Greece).

To make it fun, I also try to switch fun tasks with less inspiring ones. Many people will advise you to do the boring things first, but I have found that this slows me down. For me, it works better to mix it up a bit, so that during less fun tasks, I have something to look forward to. Just see what works best for you!

I hope you liked this post and that it will help you in making your plans! If you did, you should also take a look at ‘Why to use a planner and how to choose the right one‘. This gives you tips on how to organise your planner.

Lots of love,

Lisa

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Hi there! My name is Lisa and I am the author of Mind and Body Intertwined. I have a bachelor's and a master's degree in psychology. During my study, I found out how much the mind and the body are connected and it fascinated me, which is why I started my blog. Would you like to join me on this little corner of the world?

20 Comments on “Tips for planning ahead

  1. I loving planning and being organised and I’m always interested in reading tips about it and trying new things. I totally agree about keeping it simple. I’ve just invested in a bullet journal and I’m finding this really effective as it does so many things but keeps it all in one place.

  2. This is a really helpful post! I am a serial planner myself so I always like to read about other people’s ways of planning – thanks for sharing 😊

  3. I am all over the list part! Writing lists is my jam ;-). That plus sorting, organizing and decluttering. April 2019 something just clicked in my head and I couldn’t live how I was any more (I was basically hoarding). It’s a extremely freeing experience now. Much easier to breath <3

  4. I’ve never seen the Eisenhower matrix but that’s really neat! I usually prioritize by most time sensitive, most important, take a break, less important, etc… Thanks for all great tips!

  5. I love this! I need to have plans for my sense of calm and so I can feel I am on top of things. I like knowing where I am going so to speak. The way you broke it down is great and I love the simplicity advice! so important. Having a plan does not mean overcomplicating things. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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