“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Just as skills like creativity or writing come much easier to some than to others, similarly planning is something that comes naturally to a few. Planning and organizing skills will help you manage time, tools and resources much better. They assist you in what you need to do to achieve your goals.
However, if you’re completely new to organizing your time, learning how to plan can be a frustrating experience. But, through persistent practice you will be able to develop effective planning skills.
Let’s have a look at how you can plan your tasks well;
MAKE A LIST OF ALL YOUR TASKS
Put together a master list of all your deliverables. You don’t have to make the list in any order, just write down the necessary tasks as they come to you. This free-flow form will help you to remember tasks you might otherwise forget.
Once your master list is in place, start prioritizing tasks by weekly and daily goals in order to accomplish the main goal. Connecting your list to a bigger purpose will feel less boring and more important. You can also try adding a sentence of value to each task on the list, which will keep you motivated till completion. Here are a few ways to help you prioritize better:
Assess the value: Not all work that comes to your table is equally important. Identify which tasks carry the highest value for you, by asking yourself three questions; What do I need to do? When should I do it? How well do I do it? Prioritize your work in order of importance and urgency. Remember to start your day by completing those high-value tasks first.
Follow the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule: Identify those few tasks that have a wider impact. By following this principle you will be able to tick off unnecessary work while accomplishing the ones that bring you real results.
The Eisenhower Method: Divide your tasks into four quadrants, namely ; Urgent and important: These tasks need to be done as soon as possible. Important, but not urgent: You can decide when to do these tasks and schedule them. Urgent, but not important: Being one of the most difficult quadrants to address, this calls for smart delegation. Neither urgent nor important: Remove these tasks completely from your schedule.
Time Blocking Method: Prioritization isn’t just about tasks, it’s about time as well. Plan your day in advance by dedicating specific hours to accomplish specific tasks. Try to complete those tasks within the set time. Time blocking will help you to know exactly how you’re using your time and when you’re getting tasks accomplished. It forces you to fill up free time with pre-commitments and a corresponding plan of action. This in turn prevents procrastination and helps you stick to your task list.
Once you know how to prioritize your tasks and time, you will realise that much of what felt urgent doesn’t really require your attention, at least not right away.
REMOVE NO-VALUE TASKS
As much as prioritizing is important, it’s also necessary to delete the no value tasks. No value activities keep you busy and stop you from getting real work done. Keep only your most pressing tasks at the top, and say no to low value work. This will help create a better to-do list that is more manageable and less stressful.
EFFECTIVE PLANNING TOOLS
It is much easier to plan tasks and work with the help of tools that were designed for this very purpose. Everyone has their own preference, be it the good old sticky notes and calendars, to phone applications and complex software. Here are a few tools to help you plan better:
The Kanban Board: This customizable board helps you visualize your workflow, using cards to represent tasks as they pass through the three stages of ‘to do’, ‘in-progress’, and ‘done’. You can either make your own board or use the software available.
Asana: Apart from breaking down tasks and assigning them to team members, asana’s interface also allows you to review milestones, track your team’s progress and organize projects to meet upcoming deadlines.
Trello: Known for managing short and quick assignments, trello helps you create unlimited task lists. You can also comment and collaborate with team members as well as share files and images.
Depending on whether you like a more traditional approach or a digital one, you can choose from an array of options available.
Even the best-laid plans sometimes need adjusting. Thus, it is imperative to anticipate various scenarios. Review your list every now and then, to quickly identify when your initial plans are moving off track, so you can deal with unexpected problems and tasks effectively. By being flexible you will be able to adjust to short term change quickly and calmly.
Being a successful planner has a lot to do with your ability to plan ahead. Sometimes you have no control over the amount of time you have to complete a project. By planning ahead these unexpected projects will be much more manageable.