In my former career life I was a certified Franklin Covey Instructor. I love planning and organizing my own "stuff" and I love sharing with others some basic planning tips because I know the impact on your life they can make if you implement them!
You have probably heard the term prioritize...in order for planning to have a chance you need to make planning a priority first! What I mean by that is before you get tangled up in making task lists and prioritizing the tasks, you first need to plan to plan.
Pick a time of day that is the best for you...for some it is the morning...for me I prefer to make it the last thing I do in the evening. I like waking up in the morning and already having my plan done...I found that the morning gets away from me fast so when my plan is done the night before I stay on track getting things done.
Once you know what time of day you want to plan then pick a quiet place. The fewer distractions you have the quicker this planning session will go!
I have used every tool known to man for planning...or at least that is what my friends would say! After having used so many different tools I can tell you that what is important is that you plan and do it with whatever "tool" you feel comfortable with...one that will make it easy for you and make you want to keep planning! Some ideas are the obvious planner calendars that come in all shapes and sizes, electronic means by PDA, Smart Phone, or software on your computer, or even simple book calendars.
The key is you need something that has a monthly calendar (to see appointments and events at a glance) as well as daily calendar date blocks / pages with enough writing space to make your list of daily tasks and again show appointments and events for that given day. Some planning tools / calendars also have enough room to jot down notes for the day...I have been using for a few years now a simple ring 5X7 notebook. I just write the date on the top of a page and if "stuff" comes up that day that I need to take care of or plan for later I jot it down in there.
So now you have your time of day, your special place and your planning tool(s) of choice.
First look at your monthly calendar:
- Do you need to call to make appointments for anything coming up?
- Is there something at your child's school you need to plan for?
- Is there something you have promised your child you would do with them? Or something you want to make a priority to do with them?
- Do you have to be somewhere?
- Is it a few days away from your grocery shopping day...do you need to make your grocery list? Do you need to organize the coupons and ads for this trip?
- Are you hosting a party this month? Are there items you can go buy today? Are there invitations to send? Is there something you can do TODAY to be prepared for the party?
- Do you need to balance your bank accounts? Pay bills?
- Is there a vacation trip coming up this month? Do you need to go buy anything for the trip? Do you need to start packing (please don't stress yourself waiting until the night before you leave!)?
- Do you need to remember anyone's birthday?
Next, look at your notes you jotted down from the day before...you know the "stuff" that came up yesterday that you need to take care of.
- Do you need to call someone back?
- Did you volunteer for something?
- Do you need to go buy something, make something, do something?
Effective planning involves looking at a task or goal and breaking it down in to smaller steps/tasks that
help you complete it. You know, like hosting a birthday party, you don't just write on your task list "plan for birthday party" you need to write down individual tasks that once completed get you to the day of the party sane!
Use this same goal planning thinking combined with your budgeting skills to plan for those vacations, college savings, buying a house, everything! Start with the big goal of where you want to go or what you want to accomplish. How much money do you need for that goal? How long do you have to achieve the goal? Divide the total you need by how many months you have to achieve it. Take that monthly amount and add it to your budget calendar to be sure you save that amount each month. Then build smaller tasks that you can do daily, weekly and monthly to reach the goal. Be sure to review your goals and plug in these smaller tasks to your daily task list to be successful!
Looking at your long-term goals and asking yourself what can I do TODAY towards this goal will help you build your task list for the day!
Lastly, think about anything else you want to accomplish for the day.
- Do you have time to take some online surveys today?
- Is today a good day to do some yoga or go for a walk?
- What is on the menu for dinner? Anything you need to prep?
- Is there anything you didn't get to do yesterday that you need to do today?