When was the last time that you told yourself ‘ah, screw it. I’ll just wing it today’ before a big presentation or project? We’ve all been there. Perhaps you didn’t have enough time to get everything together, or you simply didn’t feel confident in the project’s subject matter. It’s a dangerous habit to get into, though. In this article, I’m going to show you how you plan your day ahead!
A lack of planning and preparation is unfortunately quite common in today’s modern working environment. Modern workplaces are notoriously fast-paced, and the need for a solid plan in any sector seems to have gone out of the window in most cases.
This shouldn’t be the case, though. Having a proper plan and structure in place for any sort of project or scenario is vital to making sure that you get the results you want out of it. Whether you’re organizing a marketing campaign, a wedding party or a team brainstorm, I’m sure that having a plan will help you immensely.
In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at the importance of planning- how being prepared and structured can help you in many areas of your life, and how you can improve upon your organizational skills in your own day to day working life.
Measuring success and progress
One of the key reasons that it’s so important to have a plan in place at work is that it allows you to measure your own success and progress with a project.
Let’s take a look at a marketing strategy, for example. It can be pretty simple to send out a blog or a few social media posts every now and then. But what happens when your boss asks you to prove the ROI (return on investment) for your marketing efforts? Having a solid plan and clear, achievable goals in this scenario are one of the best ways to make sure that you can show off exactly what it is that you’ve achieved.
This is applicable to a number of different areas of life; whether you’re looking at sales targets, personal development or budgeting. Planning ahead and thinking about your goals can help you reflect on your personal successes and failures, and overall improve your productivity and efficiency.
Achieving goals and targets
Following on from the last point, planning ahead can actually be a fantastic way to achieve your own personal goals and targets. Sure, you could just blurt out a speech in front of your potential clients and hope that they buy from you. But if you’ve got a goal of converting 6 clients and you end up making 7 sales, I’m sure that you’ll end up feeling a whole lot more accomplished.
This sort of plan works very well in a visual format, so I’d highly encourage you to invest in an app, planner or schedule to help you visualize your thoughts. Plan out where you want to be with your project/career/personal goals in a year or so, and highlight the exact steps that you’ll need to take to get there.
If you’re not sure about how to get to your specific goals and targets, try working backward. Think of your main goal, and then think about what you would have had to do to get to that beforehand. Keep going backward in this manner until you get back to the position that you’re in currently. Doing this should provide you with a logical, timely plan that you can put into action in your working life.
Motivation and satisfaction
On a more personal note, having a plan in place can help you achieve a higher level of fulfillment and happiness in your life. This is relevant whether you’re planning a work project, personal change or something else entirely. Being able to set out a plan and then look back on it after hitting your goals is a wonderfully addictive feeling.
If you haven’t got a plan of action, chances are that you’ll struggle to visualize where you’re going with a project. Not knowing exactly what you’re doing can lead to feeling like there’s too much work and sap your motivation levels on time.
Once you’ve written out a plan (and make sure you do write it- visualization is important here), try to decide your key goals to go alongside it. This will help keep you focused, and give you something to reflect on once you’ve achieved what you set out to do.
As we’ve said earlier, planning ahead and thinking strategically can be a great way to motivate yourself and achieve more goals. More specifically though, it can actually help boost your productivity.
One key example of this is working with lists. Having a checklist or bullet-pointed list of everything that you need to achieve within a day can help make your workload seem much more manageable and easier to visualize. From my personal experience, I’ve found that the amount of key tasks that I can get done per day averages out to be around 3. Normally, it’s more but I set myself the aim of finishing 3. This allows me to feel satisfied that I’ve worked hard at the end of the day, as there’s something tangible to show off my work- I finished my to-do list.
Another good way to increase your productivity here is to invest in a planner or scheduling app. I’ve mentioned this already, but it is worth noting again (pun intended). Different tools will work at varying levels of success for different people, so spend some time researching different options to make sure that your choice fits you appropriately.
Delegation and team work
An area that I think many people don’t consider to be benefited by planning ahead is teamwork. Having a solid plan and structure in place for a work project, for example, can help improve communication skills, effective delegation and qualify of work overall.
Communication skills are key here. Without a proper plan or set of goals to follow, a lot of things will simply get lost in translation. Think of it as a game of Chinese Whispers- the original message will never be the same. Having a plan allows everyone in the team to know what they’re doing, and can also encourage more discussion amongst colleagues which is great.
Improve your leadership abilities
Planning ahead can also improve your abilities as a manager or boss. It would be fairly tricky to let everyone know what they’re meant to be doing if you didn’t have a clue what needed to be done, right? This is where having a proper plan comes in. I’d recommend looking into a tool like Basecamp, as this allows everyone in the team to see their goals all in one place.
All of the previously mentioned factors should combine to improve the quality of work in a project, too. Understanding your role in a project and what your team is doing is the perfect way to lean towards success, and I’m sure it’ll make the process more enjoyable too.
Understand costs and resources
On a different note, planning out your work and projects is a fantastic way to understand the costs and resources that you’re using up. Not having a plan will encourage you to either feel like you’ve got all the resources in the world or not enough of them at all. Working with a plan and a solid structure can help you see exactly where each of your assets is going, and this, in turn, can help you work more effectively in the future. It could even save you money, in the long term.
This is particularly true when it comes to business plans or work projects. How else will you know where to spend your resources if you don’t have a fully fleshed out plan in place? Doing this can help you work with your team more effectively, and to make wiser investments of your time, resources and money.
Doing this will also allow you to reflect on your past work, and understand key ways to improve upon your work style in the future. Think of it like split testing- try focusing on one area of your resources each month, and seeing which one needs more of your attention over time than the others do.
How to put this all into practice
Now that we’ve had a look at the many benefits that planning your daily life and your work projects can bring, let’s take a look at how you can put this all into practice in your own life. After all, it’s all well and good reading something online but actually introducing it into your personal life is an important skill to have. Here are my top pieces of advice to help you with your planning and strategy efforts.
Here is how you plan your day
- Clearly define your goals. Without knowing where you want to be, how on earth will you get there? Spend some time reflecting on what exactly it is that you want. Don’t just say ‘I want to make more money’, say ‘ I want to make 35 more sales and cut costs by 1K this month’. It needs to be clear, definable and achievable in order for this to work.
- Get yourself a planner. I know, I’ve mentioned this one already. The reason I mention this so often though is because it’s what turned my life around in terms of productivity and planning. I used to be incredibly scatterbrained and forgetful, but getting a planner encouraged me to plan and strategize for my work life.
- Speak to people. Planning isn’t necessarily a solo exercise. Speak to your team, your boss, your friends, and your family- see if they’ve got any input, or simply get their support if you’re having an issue with a particular area of your project planning. We’re social creatures after all, so it’s no good cutting yourself off in this regard.
- Frequently reflect and analyze. In order to really make an impact with your work and your planning, you’re going to need to set aside some time frequently to analyze your own performance. Self-reflection is a hugely valuable skill, and it will help you get closer to your goals in the long run.
Overall, there are plenty of ways that you can improve your productivity and planning throughout your life. It’s incredibly important to do this if you want a more efficient, enjoyable and rewarding style of working. Having a solid plan can help improve your team’s communication, success rates, and work quality, too. Why wouldn’t you want this in your working life?