You’ve Gotta Protect Your Planning Time!

I’m reading an interesting book called Fast Minds, by Craig Surman, MD & Tim Bilkey, MD.  It’s a self-help book for folks with ADHD or who think they may have ADHD.  This morning I came across a couple of sentences I want to share with you.

We want to reiterate here that we feel one of the most important times to protect in life is planning time. Without stepping outside the busyness of the day-to-day activities to review responsibilities and actively plan to meet them, we are perpetually left in a reactive, crisis management, disorganized pattern.”

I couldn’t agree more!  I spend a LOT of time working with my clients helping them understand the importance of creating time and space for planning in their lives.  Life happens.  Do you want it to happen with some direction from you, or do you want it to just keep happening to you?

Without time blocked out for and committed to planning, you are much more likely to end up in the reactive – “life happens” mode.  Planning will allow you to shift to a proactive mode. My clients who have been most successful with their productivity coaching are those individuals who have made and kept their commitment to planning.  These folks have worked to find the time of day / day of the week that works best for them for planning.  They have also experimented with and decided upon means of capturing tasks, both actual and potential.  Are their systems perfect?  No.  Are they constantly working to improve them, by learning from their mistakes?  You bet they are!

One client’s planning time is scheduled in on Google calendar at least twice weekly. Another  has identified her best planning time as being in the morning after her yoga class. I do my best planning first thing in the morning when my brain is fresh, using my calendar, my inboxes and my current task trackers, Toodledo and Trello.  The keys to effective planning are finding the day and time of day that works best for you,  the best tools for you and then following through with your plan.

What works for you planning-wise?  What’s your routine?  What are your tools?  Please share and inspire others.


18 Responses to “You’ve Gotta Protect Your Planning Time!”

  1. Ellen Delap October 15, 2013 8:13 am #

    Agree, agree, agree! Planning time is essential for living the life you want, not the life that happens. Having a twice week, scheduled planning time creates a flow that works. I also suggest a family meeting for planning too.

    Great post Andrea!

    • Andrea Sharb October 15, 2013 8:23 am #

      Thanks for contributing Ellen. Family meetings are great ideas and key for making things work when there is more than one of you to worry about. Do you have any posts or information you can share re: conducting those?

  2. Janet Greene October 15, 2013 9:38 am #

    Planning is essential in the life of everyone. However, having lived for over 50 years with a fairly obsessive planner, you need to be aware of “always jam tomorrow, never jam today”. Spontaneity also has its place. Now…..I must admit that my dear husband’s planning ahead also enabled us to put two daughters through college and pay for two beautiful weddings from savings. Enough said!

    • Andrea Sharb October 15, 2013 6:01 pm #

      Thanks Mom for reminding me that spontaneity has its place. Thank goodness Dad is such a good planner though. 🙂

  3. Cathy van Volkenburg October 15, 2013 5:05 pm #

    Andrea your article is wonderful! As professional organizers we need time to plan so we can in turn be effective with our clients. It is important to recognize your high energy times and carve some planning time when you are at your peak. My planning time is very early morning with my coffee before the day takes over. Thanks for sharing your information!

    • Andrea Sharb October 15, 2013 6:03 pm #

      So glad to have you here and commenting Cathy! Sounds like you and I share a similar planning style.

  4. Christy Lingo October 15, 2013 5:26 pm #

    We are totally on the same wave length! I was just getting ready to do a blog post today about Mommy Time Management. I love what you say about being reactive rather than proactive. I’m finding with 2 small kids now it is more important than ever to sit down and plan my weeks.

    • Andrea Sharb October 15, 2013 6:08 pm #

      Hi Christy! Life “happens” at an incredibly fast pace with small kids and proactivity is key to accomplishing what must get done. I look forward to reading your post! p.s. Nice to reconnect with you here.

  5. Linda Samuels October 15, 2013 5:59 pm #

    Andrea- I love this idea of using planning to encourage a proactive vs. reactive way of being. I remember you describing to me this weekend the powerful results you saw from approaching a large project that way… planning was the first priority, which than allowed all the following steps to flow into place AND also have room to make adjustments as needed.

    • Andrea Sharb October 15, 2013 8:26 pm #

      Nice connection Linda. The planning for that project made all of the difference as far as what was and will be accomplished. Planning can be challenging and can sometimes not feel like the best use of one’s time, but wow can it make a difference in outcome!

      • Linda Samuels October 16, 2013 8:38 am

        Totally agreed. I’m a planner for certain things. I like to plan enough so that I can completely focus and enjoy the project or event. Sometimes I like to plan “unplanned” time too. By that I mean that I plan blocks of time that are unplanned so that I can let the day or part of a day just flow because if every thing is planned there’s no room for serendipity or spontaneity.

      • Andrea Sharb October 16, 2013 12:27 pm

        Couldn’t agree more!

  6. Cindy Illig-Lum October 15, 2013 7:54 pm #

    Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed by my “to do” list, it has become my first instinct to stop and make a plan for the list. I used to just start plowing through it but it just made me frantic when I couldn’t actually cross everything off. Now I look at the list either on Monday morning or whenever it is overwhelming me, put each item in a time slot on my Google Calendar in relation to the day or time frame in which it is “due,” and try to stick to that plan like glue. The list for the day in question becomes much more manageable. Now I am in control of what I am doing rather than reacting to what I think needs done or whatever is coming at me from others (clients, family, or the universe). Yes, 15 minutes of planning time can save me an entire day of unplanned chaos.

    • Andrea Sharb October 15, 2013 8:18 pm #

      Cindy so good of you to read and comment – thanks for sharing how you deal with the overwhelm of the list. Amazing how just 15 minutes proactively spent can impact your entire day in such a positive way.

  7. Janet Greene October 16, 2013 10:20 am #

    I brought your father into the discussion on planning. He remembered a seminar from the old Abbott days in which the speaker suggested making a list of to-dos. Prioritize the list in order of importance. Then make another list of the top 5 priorities and file the others for another time. Too many people become overwhelmed by the number of items on their lists and end up not doing much of anything.

  8. Birdie Brennan January 31, 2014 10:08 am #

    I’ve already requested the book. I can’t wait to read it. One of my favorite sayings is you need to schedule your priorities, don’t prioritize your schedule! Thanks for sharing your ideas and the book recommendation.

    • Andrea Sharb January 31, 2014 10:26 am #

      Hi Birdie, great of you to stop by. I love your saying and will have to remember it. Let me know what you think of the book.

Leave a Reply