Why is it so important to plan my day? Can’t I just start with one task and work my way through the day – one task at a time until I’m done? Let’s look at what planning can do for you.
The importance of planning is so easy to be overlooked. There is a well-known slogan that often comes up at business seminars that says “failing to plan is planning to fail”, and there is much truth in that statement. Yet, how many of us are actively planning our schedules? And even when we do plan our schedules, we hardly ever stick to it.
Especially as an entrepreneur working from home, it becomes so easy to fall into the trap of not having a well-planned working schedule. I know from personal experience, it’s almost as if something inside you wants to rebel against any form of planning. I would read posts and articles about time blocking and get motivated to start blocking some time out on my calendar. But soon I would be ignoring my calendar again, because I just could not fit enough activities into the space of one day on my calendar (am I the only one?).
For some reason my calendar just didn’t have enough space (or hours) in one day. I just wanted to get the stuff done…..all of it……I mean, that’s what working from home is all about, isn’t it? One of the biggest goals is to be in charge of your own time. You want to work when you want to work. But I had a hard time not working, because there would always be something to do.
Decide what is Important.
I always had such a lot of ‘stuff’ that needed to get done….. And that is exactly the problem; it’s not having a schedule to work too. You are facing all those tasks every single day, with no specific time slots allocated to any specific task over a period of time. And how many tasks get completed? None.
You are always busy and by the end of the day you are exhausted, yet it feels like you have made no progress. As a matter of fact, you are falling behind, because it feels like every day there are just more and more tasks that need to be done. And then you still have unexpected interruptions to cope with too, such as telephone calls, or someone who just wants to come and quickly share something with you . If you are not working according to a schedule, you have no control over this, and you can’t decide how and where to make up for lost time either.
As soon as you start to create a schedule, you will find that you have to decide which tasks are more important and need to get attended to first. You need to prioritize. If you don’t prioritize your daily activities, the danger is that eventually you won’t know the difference between non-working or working activities and income producing versus non-income producing activities. There will always be something to do and before you know it, you are constantly busy ‘working’, and there is just no time for the family or anything else.
Having a Planned Schedule Doesn’t Mean You Have to Sacrifice Your Freedom.
Those who don’t really believe in proper time management are those who love their freedom. They love to do what they want, when they want. They tend to be easy-going and they prefer to just tackle the day as it comes. It’s not that they would be impulsive, but they like the idea of doing things in their own time and they believe that adding to-do lists and blocking time on their calendars are just going be binding and adding even more unnecessary activities and frustration to an already busy day.
On the opposite side of the coin, as mentioned, you get the “time management freaks” who almost can’t survive without first checking their calendar. They schedule everything and sometimes I wonder if they even schedule time for having a glass of water as well…..lol (okay…maybe it’s not that bad, but you get the idea…). These people are often categorized as leaning towards being perfectionists (which is something else I can write a whole article on, but let’s leave that for later).
So, where do you find a balance? Is it really necessary for proper planning, time blocking and creating schedules to become productive? Yes, I actually do believe that it would be beneficial for everybody indeed.
I recently followed the 2016 Writers Summit that was hosted by Chandler Bolt. More than 40 of the best authors in the world were featured during the summit (and I’m sure he couldn’t have done it without proper planning and without sticking to schedules by the way).
What was interesting to me was the diversity that was to be found amongst these world class writers. I was absolutely fascinated by it, and what I have learned from it is absolutely invaluable. Well done Chandler, I salute you for a job well done.
What struck me was the fact that you find people to the extreme of both sides when it comes to being organized or easy-going, yet each and every one of these individuals are extremely successful in what they do.
On the side of being relaxed and going with the flow, I can recall watching the interview with Bob Goff. In another video I saw recently, he (Bob Goff) also gets interviewed by Kelsey Humphreys from “The Pursuit”. Kelsey Humphreys makes the statement that Bob Goff actually admitted that he has a hard time staying focused. Anyhow, what fun and joy it is to listen to this man? Yet, although he is known for never sending a call to voicemail and taking each day as it comes, I do believe there must be some form of a schedule and lots of planning behind the scenes.
Bob Goff obviously works with a professional team. He is travelling extensively and he finds himself flying off to another destination on a daily basis; that cannot be done without a schedule. So although I get the impression that he doesn’t like spending time with his calendar, he has a team who does that for him.
To the other extreme, you have someone like Cal Newport, who is super-productive. He has also authored a best-selling book about ‘Deep Work’. He believes you should block time to focus on one activity at a time, and focus on the job at hand with zero interruptions in order to get more done in less time. He is living proof that it works. He is a full-time professor, he maintains his own blog, he is a best-selling author, he still has time for family life, and he doesn’t like working over weekends.
Wow! I would say those are two good examples of both extremes, wouldn’t you? So, what about me? Where does it leave me? Personally I also like the idea of freedom and not being tied down to the same schedule day in and day out. I like the idea of having the freedom to choose when I want to do what.
So, here is the conclusion that I have come too. It is not necessary for me to become a time management fanatic in order for me to be successful. But; taking control over my time and blocking time slots on my calendar will certainly help me to become more focused and productive.
Whether we like it or not, we all have 168 hours in a week. That’s it. How we spend those hours are up to us. I can’t recall who said it, but I heard someone making the statement that the slogan says; “Time is money. But actually your time is worth more than money”, he said. “If you lose money, you can always take action and make up for your losses. There is always more money to be made, but there are only so many hours in a day. It doesn’t matter who you are, when time has gone, it’s gone. You can’t create more time”.
By blocking time on my calendar and creating a schedule for different projects, I can still organize my time the way I want to. I can decide how much time to allocate to each task on a daily basis and when I need to work on each task. I still don’t have to become stuck in a dull routine if I don’t want to (although routines also have a purpose). But now I can plan ahead and reduce my stress levels, become more productive, and be sure that I’m not neglecting my family in the process.
So, why is it so important to plan my day? I can tell you from experience that it drastically reduces your stress levels. It gives structure to your day, it puts you in control and definitely makes you more productive.
It’s about finding a balance that will work for you. It’s personal. You don’t have to organize your time in any particular way just to please someone else or follow the rules in a time management book as if it is some law.
I believe the principles of time management and planning as taught by many professionals should be taken seriously, but then use that as a guide line and personalize it to suit your own personality and your lifestyle.
Related article: Life is a Journey: How To Relax and Enjoy The Journey.