Confession: I am obsessed with planning.
I always find it weird when people say I’m organised or that I am efficient or anything in that direction because I always feel I am falling short. I have a compulsion to organise my time, to ensure my priorities have dedicated space, to schedule rest, to simply ensure I get things done. I just do not believe I am efficient enough, a part of that has to do with the fact that I do know I can be better at it.
Being that somehow I have given others the impression that I am disciplined, organised and efficient, I am going to share with you some of the things I do to counteract my inherent laziness, lack of focus, and general indiscipline:
Scheduling & Goal-Setting:
- Each year, sometime in August generally, I write out my LONG-TERM & SHORT-TERM GOALS, examine where I am and prescribe the next 5 steps towards them. Long-term goals for me are 10-year or longer goals, they include my highest priorities and tend to be slightly abstract. Currently, mine include retirement, business legacy, education and giving. Yes, I have goals for my giving. I do this because long-term goals help me stay focused and committed in the present. Short-term goals fall within the 1 to 2-year range and are VERY specific, they include books to read, physical goals like climbing Blue Mountain and the Reggae Marathon, and establishing a scholarship at my University.
- Once a month, I set my personal goals or activities that I must prioritise over the randoms that appear during the month. This includes serving in church, volunteering, making time for friends, family activities and other things. I also include events that I consider important. These are not all firmly scheduled, but they are prioritised to help me not become all about other peoples priorities.
- Every week, I plot out business tasks that must get done. Within my business I am second in the chain of responsibility, and the most experienced at what we do. Seeing and understanding the overall vision of our projects, I know what must get done for each production to go smoothly. I work with teams that have different levels of experience and expertise, and details can get lost in the excitement of the bigger priorities. Either way, things must get done in good time and order. Due to this, I must ensure the finer details are taken care of, even when others have overlooked them.
Become More Efficient With Time:
- I try to reduce unenjoyable or unproductive time wasters.
Unproductive time wasters are avoided when I have time committed to productivity – especially when it affects others. This means no news or Pinterest at work, ignoring my twitter timeline and all personal e-mails until I’m home or in-transit. All non-work Social Media activities have to be put on hold when there’s work to be done.
Unenjoyable time-wasters are different, they are the things that have to be done but do not have to take unnecessarily long. None of us like them, and I can become very impatient with anyone that I feel is wasting my time because it translates as they are not valuing my time. These include: extensively long meetings, long wait times for scheduled appointments, consistent lateness, beating around the bush and a plethora of other things. To avoid them, I do not remain in meetings longer than their scheduled time and I do not do meetings without a defined purpose. (I could write an entire post on how meetings can waste time.) I also make every effort to be on time for appointments, and while I can accept you may be running behind time, if either of us are going to be more than 1/2 our appointment time behind it may be better to reschedule. Some are unavoidable (like airport waiting times), and when they are my favourite companion is a book :)
- I use free tools for my social media management.
When I blog, I set the time for publishing, posting about it on twitter, facebook. I post on pinterest, and e-mail friends & family that would be interested in the actual post on my way to work that day. I do this mainly because I do most of my personal writing activities at night and I try to spend my work hours doing work.
- I write outlines for almost everything.
It keeps me focused on the purpose and points, which is important because going off on tangents can kill the point and focus of anything. So yes, I write out lines for letters, blog posts, proposals, books, sermons, and the list goes on.
- I only read blog posts that focus on things I’m interested in.
Because I have a wide variety of interests and passions I read a lot of blogs, however not every post is paramount to me at every moment. So while I love Michael Hyatt‘s blog, I’m not reading posts about publishing an e-book today, because I’m not yet interested in publishing an e-book but I will read every single post he has on leadership because I want to be a better leader and servant. So on the days that he posts about leadership, it is the FIRST blog post I read.
- I put a value on EVERYTHING.
If I find insufficient value in something, it goes to the “Only if I’m bored / haunted” list. If I find no value, then it is completely removed from my life. Yes, skylarking has a value. No, people trying to be stupid do not. This habit becomes obvious when I clean up my social media pages, I do this maybe once per quarter.
- I still use Paper & Pen
In the Digital Age? Yes. I find things leave a deeper imprint on me when I write it out and that includes timelines, calendars and appointments. More importantly, when I am telling someone thanks or commending them, I prefer to do it in my own hand, in my own words.
Tools, Posts and Other things of interest:
- Michael Hyatt on scheduling priorities. It includes a 5 year calendar :) Love it!
- Free Planner Printables
- Hootsuite is an easy to use free tool for your social media. It keeps almost everything in one place, tracks it and helps you schedule.
Have I accomplished everything I have ever planned, penned or otherwise envisioned? Not at all. However, I find I get more done when I have a plan than when I don’t. I move closer to where I want to be when I layout how to get there. Doing this sets my purpose and direction and helps me move towards the end game. It helps me be better.