How to plan your time and be more productive

Geeta (chief accountant) (3368 Points)

23 April 2011  


One of the key differences between very productive people and
unproductive people is that productive people plan their time in
advance, while unproductive people rarely bother to do so.

Planning is one of the most important skills in time management.

Experts estimate that every minute you spend planning your time
effectively can save you 3 to 5 minutes during execution.

And yet most people don't plan their time at all. They just drift
through the day doing whatever task happens to grab their attention

There are many reasons people give for not planning their time. Like
don't really need it, won't work for me, don't have time to plan,
it's too constraining, my work is too unpredictable, I'm a creative
type, etc.

The truth is that all these reasons are just excuses and
rationalizations. The real reason people don't plan is usually one
of the following...

1) They don't understand the true value of planning - People often
claim that they don't need to plan because they are doing well
without any planning. The reality is that they are doing well
despite their lack of planning, NOT because they are not planning.

Effective planning would make them even more productive and capable
of achieving even better results.

2) They don't know how to plan effectively - This is probably the
most common reason why people don't plan: they just don't know how
to do it. Planning your time is a skill that you have to learn.

The good news is that planning doesn't have to take a lot of time
-- and it's a simple skill that virtually anyone can learn.

One of the most important principles in effective planning is to
always "plan on paper". The reason is that it forces you to put
your thoughts out in the open where you can see them, think about
them, move them around and prioritize them.

It's very difficult to plan things in your head because by their
very nature your thoughts are fuzzy, vague and easy to forget. It
takes a lot of effort and energy to keep track of your plans in
your head.

Now, this doesn't mean that you have to use an actual piece of
paper to do your planning. Now that we have computers, you can use
electronic lists, notes or even Mind Maps as tools to help you plan
more effectively. In fact, these tools often work better than just
using "pen and paper" because it's easier to capture, organize,
store, arrange and use your plans.

So the first step in effective planning is to always "plan on
paper" instead of in your head.

When it comes to planning your time, another important principle is
to always work from a list. You make a list of what you need to do
and organize it in the proper sequence based on what is most
important. You then use that list to guide your work throughout the
day and help you decide what to do next.

Many people discover that embracing the habits of planning your
time and working from a list increases their productivity
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