It’s that time of year: looking over successes and failures of the current year, and planning for the next. What occurs in these few short weeks before January 1 can make-or-break the coming year…or at least the first part of it. Planning can make all the difference.
I can hear some of your groaning. (Planning takes too much time; my boss sets my priorities; plans always change mid-stream, so why bother?)
Here’s why you should bother:
Planning Provides Direction
It’s in the name: by writing down your goals and priorities, you’ve made a plan—a strategy—which provides direction. Direction is crucial. Without it, you’re likely to spend your time on trivial activities or even wasteful ones.
How many times have you left the office at the end of the day and felt like you’ve accomplished nothing? Planning provides purpose and structure, and can help you avoid meaningless days.
Planning Helps with Decision Making
With a strategy in place, decision making becomes easy. Ask yourself: will this task or activity have any impact on reaching my goal? If the answer is yes, do the task. If no, then don’t. It’s as simple as that.
Planning Provides Motivation
Have you ever woken up on a Saturday morning without concrete plans for the day—no errands to run, bills to pay, friends to meet up with? How motivated were you to get out of bed? (If you’re like me, not very motivated at all. The phone and TV remote are both within reach, thankyouverymuch.)
Planning provides the impetus to move. You can’t stay in bed all day if you have a meeting to chair or a deadline to meet.
Planning Provides Control
Daily, we face so many things which are out of our control—many of which act against us: traffic, weather, the stock market. It can be overwhelming. But when you have planned your year (or your quarter, or even just your day), you’ve taken control of the things that you actually have influence on. Planning offers an island of sanity in the ocean of chaos.
Planning Defines Your Success
Without a plan, how can you tell if you’re successful? What yardstick will you judge your achievements by?
With a plan in place, you can look back at the end of the year (or quarter, or week…) and see where you succeeded and where you failed.
Are you still with me? If you are, I hope you’ll join me over the next several weeks where I’ll walk you through some planning and productivity strategies which will empower you to take control of your time, meet all your goals and deadlines, and create your own island of sanity.
Kelly Harmon is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. By day, she is the Webmaster of the National Agricultural Library, where she spends her time analyzing web statistics, supporting the various NAL web sites, and writing the occasional article for Tellus Magazine, produced by the Agricultural Research Service, USDA. By night, she is an award-winning journalist and author, and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association. She’s a bit of a word-nerd, and relies on her planner to keep life sane. You can read her posts here.