Quick Tips for Planning Success

I like to plan. I never thought I'd say that. I don't always stick to a plan the way it was created, but when it comes to my business, I always have one. Setting goals and having a plan gives me a path to follow. There are many things I want to create and do. If you're like me, you can relate to this entrepreneurial idea factory. So, here are my suggestions to find success with the plans you create:

Straight to the point (the too long; didn't read version):

  • Spend 5-15 minutes each morning planning for the day ahead and reviewing scheduled appointments. After this becomes a habit for you, I'm confident you can get this down to 5 minutes a day.
  • Choose 1-3 priority tasks each day that you consider "must-do" activities. Schedule time on your calendar to get these done, or make sure to work on them first thing, before you get distracted with other matters.
  • Keep a running list of "One day I'll..." ideas. Continually add to the list. Move these things to your active planning/to-do list once they become more of a priority.
  • Keep all of your notes in one notebook or system whenever possible - you'll always know where to find what you wrote down

Dig deeper:

Try the four ideas above for the next 30 days and see if they stick. I started planning my day each morning back in late 2011 and it has stuck ever since. It helps me focus and prioritize. It's such a part of me, I don't even think about it anymore. The first thing I do when I sit at my desk each morning is whip out my planner and quickly jot down how I'd like the day to flow. Things change most days, but the rough plan gives me a path to follow.
When you realize something isn't a priority, don't hesitate to move it to a list for later. If you're anything like me, you have a thousand ideas - but you can't execute them all at once. Pick your priorities and save the other things for later. I like saving ideas in Evernote. You might prefer an idea journal. Do what works for you.
Tip: Make things easy by consolidating your notes and to-do's. While I don't keep *everything* in one place, I do have everything streamlined:
  • My master to-do list is in Asana.
  • My daily and emergent task list is in my planner - along with my daily plan.
  • Evernote is my reference home and also where I keep drafts of content I'm working on.
  • And then I have one notebook for notes.
The system works for me - but you might prefer keeping your notes and to-dos in one book or app. That's fine too! In my dream world, everything would be in Evernote, but I really like writing down my thoughts quickly to get them out of my head, and Evernote isn't really built for daily planning (without a little hacking).
No matter how you plan, if you want the plan to work, you need to work the plan! So make sure to check in first thing every day and capture your ideas as your go along.
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