Planning: What is it and why should we do it?
Planning is the process of pre-determining the steps one needs to take in order to achieve a specific goal. There are multiple reasons and advantages of planning, one of the major being the ability to achieve the state of mindfulness or self-awareness. The self-awareness gives us the long required motivation in order to succeed. It provides us with the bigger picture of life and helps us take major decisions in life with complete awareness, hence helping us seek the purpose of our life. It helps us structure our life along with our thoughts and give us the confidence that is essential in order to succeed while carrying out any task. We’re able to prioritise the important things in life while allowing us to ignore or work on trivial things when we’re done with others. When we’re unplanned, we’re generally in a ‘go-with-the-flow’ mind-set which although, might give us results but cannot provide us with the same satisfaction as a perfectly executed plan.
Planning can help us figure out the most optimal way of executing a task although finding that might take us through various alternatives which will also help us understand the risks associated with them, hence giving us the hindsight to plan suitable ways to counter them and ensure security. Planning is an essential part of executing a project in any organization. When we tend to plan in general, it teaches the intricacies involved with planning which helps us curate better ones in a professional setting. It also helps us understand the various steps involved in a task which allows us to delegate a certain step to a certain member, hence taking advantage of the complete potential of a team. Lastly, planning gives us a sense of control and helps us determine the odds of our success far more than our usual ‘go-with-the-flow’ strategy.
Parameters of Planning
There are various ways to plan but the most basic parameters of a successful plan are the same and can be concisely described by the acronym SMART. Our plans need to be specific (S) with a clear defined goal and proper steps to achieve it. They need to be measurable (M). This means that each and every steps needs to be quantified in a manner that we can assess while looking back to understand the reason for its success or failure. We generally have a tendency of going over-the-top while planning in theory but tend to forget that our plans need to be attainable (A) and realistic (R). Lastly, our plans need to be time bound (T) giving us a point to stop at our efforts in order to either re-assess our journey or give a stop to it.
Types of Planning
Our plans can be distinguished in three types: long-term plans, mid-term plans, and short-term plans. These plans can be defined with a time-frame suitable to the user. The three types of plans help us structure our life and define our goals. It helps us understand the sacrifices that we’ll need to make and the steps that we’ll need to take in order to achieve something in a long run rather than running around aimlessly. It will also help us plan our days. The most important part of planning is the need for flexibility because a lot of factors which determine the odds of our success are extrinsic and out of our control. Hence, we should have a space for breathing and hatching alternatives in case our plan might fail due to unseen circumstances.
How Do I Plan
My daily plans start a day earlier generally before going to bed where I try to summarize key things that I need to take care of the following day. I try to jot them down on my white board which is hung at a place that’s constantly visible to me throughout the day. This plan isn’t time specific but rather outlines day and divides my tasks to be performed at different intervals of a day: Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Night. The first task after getting and freshening up is to go to my Google Calendar and marking it with tasks in various time slot remembering that those tasks need to be finished in the decided quarter of the day rather than being completely time-rigid in case they don’t have such requirements.
Importance of Consistency and How to maintain it
Now that we’ve understood the importance, usefulness and ways of planning, we need to understand the wave nature of consistency. It is imperative that we understand that not every day is same for us. Everyone goes through a cycle of highs and lows where there are days of maximum activeness followed by days of slump which is determined by a lot of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that aren’t in our control. An important thing is to understand that our productivity is a culmination of these factors and shouldn’t be the source of our guilt on bad unproductive days. What we can rather do is try to slowly work out the menial tasks that don’t require much focus in order to maintain consistency and leaving important tasks for active days. Lastly, it is always advisable to develop feedback mechanisms which are generally the times when we quietly sit down to review our journey, assess our victories and failures and suitably make changes to all of our plans. Remember, our goals in life can always change along with the plans to achieve them but what’s necessary is that we learn ways to develop and assess them in order to control our chances of success and failure to a maximum extent.