Make Time for Planning in Business

Have You Got Time For Planning?

You know that planning is essential both for success and effective use of your time. But what if you don't think you have the time to plan in the first place? It's a catch 22. You need to have the time to plan because such preparation would free up more of your time.

You're probably aware of the costs of not planning, such as being ineffective, fire-fighting, feelings of panic, worry and being out of control. But if you don't plan ahead ,you'll be unable to change things.

I've found that many people who don't plan say they don't have time. But this may be a red herring and not the real reason at all. Once you manage yourself more effectively and free up some time to plan, you'll soon see if lack of time is the real reason. If it's not the time factor, you'll soon be able to identify what else could be stopping you from planning and choose to change it.

You may think that planning will take a long time. Perhaps you've come across other people who spend a long time planning so that's your only reference point.

I invite you to consider that planning doesn't need to take a long time. It's not the length of time you spend planning that counts; it's how effective your planning is. A smaller amount of time spent planning effectively is more productive than a longer period when you plan without a purpose, or an objective and you don't know where to start, what to do or what you want to achieve. I believe most planning need take only a small amount of time and once you're in the habit of doing this, it will fit naturally into your day.

I've found that people think they don't have time to plan because they see it as a much bigger task. This stops them before they get started and just focusing on taking the next step. They often think that planning needs to be formal and sometimes it does: if, for instance, you're presenting a business plan to your bank or investors. However, most of the time it doesn't need to be formal and this makes it easier to keep it fun. Some of the best plans have started life as notes on napkins or beer mats.

When I work with people who think they don't have time for planning, I ask if they're willing to take just 5 minutes. This keeps it simple and easily achievable.

Even if you're planning something fairly big like a new business, a house move or career progression, even 5 minutes effectively spent will achieve a lot. What would it take for you to spend 5 minutes a day on planning?

So now you have 5 minutes to plan, let's use this time effectively. One of the best ways to do this is to ask yourself questions. You need to ask discovery questions which allow you to enquire, probe and challenge yourself. Questions take up very little time. You can ask yourself these questions at almost any time and when you find the answers, your plan can be added to or changed. It's surprising what can be discovered, planned and made clearer if you devote 5 minutes to asking and answering powerful questions.

These 5 minutes a day will give you a good opportunity to plan your day ahead. For bigger plans, 5 minutes spent on a regular basis asking yourself powerful discovery questions and listening for the responses will move your planning ahead consistently.

There are many powerful questions you can ask yourself to enable you to plan more effectively and here are a few to get you started:

  • What one specific thing do you want to achieve today?
  • What do you feel inspired to do today?
  • What one specific task are you willing to delegate today?
  • What one specific thing are you willing to say no to today?

Even if you only choose one question to ask yourself each day, I'm sure you can see that it's not going to eat up lots of your time. Your planning can be effective even in a very short space of time.

Wendy Hearn Coach
She works with business owners, professionals and executives to discover and unlock their own inspiration, to effortlessly take the actions required to have the success they desire.

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Copyright 2003, Wendy Hearn. All rights reserved.

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