Time Management: The Importance of Planning

by Ben Richardson
16th December 2019    5 Minutes

Whether it’s your day to day tasks or your goals for the long-term, planning is a crucial skill. Planning can seem like a boring and fiddley task, especially if you are a go-getter by nature, that just slows you down and complicates things, and for short-term very simple tasks that is often the case. Regardless of if you are a go getter or any other personality type our time management course will show you how to get control of your time.

The truth is that planning saves you time in the long run. It allows you to prepare for hurdles and unforeseen changes that you may encounter, and to prioritise properly. In short learning it is a key component of time management.

Planning also reduces stress as it should allow you to come up with a realistic view of what you can achieve in a certain amount of time and so avoid overloading yourself or making commitments that you’re going to struggle to deliver on. For more on this see our recent post: Time Management: Completing New Projects.

Not everyone has the same take on planning and that’s ok, but when it comes to your time management at work it is vital to ensure you are working as effectively and efficiently as possible and so that you spend some time planning.

Day to Day Planning & Time Management

Being organised plays a big part in planning. While it seems simple enough to make a plan, the hard part is keeping on top of it, especially if it is a new routine for you.

Your way might be to keep a mental list of your daily tasks or make be making short notes on a calendar, but this isn’t always efficient, and you can forget things easily.

This might allow you to remember your to-do list but it won’t take into account how long the tasks will take to complete.

Careful planning can help with all of this so consider these tips for starting a new day to day planning routine.

  1. Plan before you start your day

This can be the day before or when you hit your desk in the morning, but it is important to plan your daily objectives before your start.

Use a notepad or diary software to write them down so they are all in one place, allowing you see them and visualise your ability to complete them.

  1. Prioritise effectively

You will not doubt have a number of administrative tasks, meetings and deadlines that you need to hit. Figure out which is most important and work on getting that task done first.

It is tempting to get the smaller and easier tasks done first before thinking about the bigger ones, but avoiding your most important task is really just a form of procrastination.

Get to the more important tasks first and feel the weight off come off your shoulders when they are complete.

  1. Plan for breaks and interruptions

You can’t be fully engaged and productive if you don’t take time for yourself.

Allow breaks to eat or speak to other people but plan them in so you have a clock to work toward and stick to it.

  1. Keep your desk and computer files organised

There is nothing worse than thinking you’re on a roll and then not being able to find a vital file you need to complete a task meaning that you have to leave completing the task until later.

It is important to keep things in logical places, so you don’t waste time looking for them.

  1. Delegate wisely

You can’t complete everything by yourself. You need to get into the habit of delegating tasks that aren’t a valuable use of your time to someone else who will benefit from the experience of doing them.

Plan time in your day to oversee their progress so there won’t be any surprises at the end of the workday.

Long Term Planning

Planning for the long term can help you predict where you will be in 12 months or even 5 years. It also makes it easier to measure your success and see the areas where you need to focus.

When you have clear goals, making plans is the first step to being able to achieve them.

Long term planning is also important for career progression. It’s about knowing where you want to be, what skills you will need to develop to get there and how long it will take.

Planning is also crucial for business success and as a manager, you will need to embrace it.

  1. Establish your S.M.A.R.T. goals

This structure of planning is used universally as it works so well. When planning for the long term, use a S.M.A.R.T. goals template to help you set the plan in motion.

  1. Use your company’s visions to make plans

Do you need to recruit more employees? Do you need to reach a certain profit percentage? These answers help you design a plan and put timescales to them.

Given that these are your strategic targets is it important that you learn to ensure that your time management reflects them.

  1. Use your own visions to make plans

Are you working toward a promotion? Think about what is going to help you get there and what you need to do now in preparation for achieving future goals?

Examples of this would be planning in further courses and training that you might need.

  1. Plan for problems.

The purpose of planning is to make things go as smoothly as possible so it’s logical to plan for hurdles and speedbumps that may hinder your progress as well. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that everything will work out perfectly.

Businesses can change their strategies quickly and key employees can leave unexpectedly.

These examples are a few of many that should be allowed for to make sure that your plans are realistic.

The Key to Good Planning

Time management and planning requires you to be self-motivated and confident this can be the biggest challenge you face at work sometimes. The trick is to keep your plans dynamic and interesting with the interests of the business in mind.

Always think about your own personal objectives as well as those of the team and where your time can be spent at the highest value.