Using a Planner Productively by Meggin McIntosh, PhD
We all need to have some sort of planner if we have any hope, whatsoever, of being productive. As a coach, productivity may need to be your middle name so using your planner in a highly effective manner is essential for you. Here are some thoughts related to this notion:
- Get used to the idea that any professional needs to have–and know how to use–a planner (either paper or electronic). It really isn’t optional anymore (not sure it ever was but it certainly isn’t now!)
- Buy a planner that you love (the size, the shape, the paper, the format) so that you take pleasure each time you use it. If you buy one and it’s not right, then get a different one (and give away the one you have). If the one you have doesn’t suit you, then you are unlikely to use it and that defeats the purpose of even having one. Just as you tell your clients to design an environment that supports their goals – you need to do the same and your planner is part of that environment.
- Put everything into your planner (names, dates, notes, appointments). Consider it “information central.” I think about it as ‘one-stop shopping’ for my life and what I need to do and where I need to be and who I need/want to be in contact with.
- Take your planner with you everywhere. Have a place for your open planner in your workspace. The same holds true if you use an electronic planner. Have a place where your iPhone sits so you can find it as needed. You never know where you will be that you need your planner, so just take it along – just in case. You’ll never be sorry.
- Maintain one–and only one–calendar. The minute you have more than one calendar, the planner system stops working because you start fearing that there is something else on the other calendar that you should be doing.
- Consider the month-at-a-glance portion of your planner to be the “storyboard” of your month. You’ll get the “big picture” this way.
- ‘What gets scheduled gets done.’ This can be your new mantra – and a continuing one. If it is important enough for you to put it on your ‘to-do’ list then actually make time, i.e., schedule time, for it on your calendar. One more time…all together now: “What gets scheduled gets done.”
- Keep a schedule of appointments in your planner, including appointments with yourself to get your work done. (See the last tip if you need a reminder about why this is a good idea). With clients, be sure to schedule your preparation time and your closing time with each one. You don’t want to have back to back to back appointments with clients for 5 hours and then at the end of the day, try to go back and make additional notes and plans regarding each one. Schedule carefully and wisely.
- Designate one area of your planner for your master task list, i.e., items that don’t have a specific due date, but that you don’t want to forget about. There is no need to be carrying these ideas around in your head. Get them recorded in your paper or electronic planner.
- Create a “task list” for each day. Rethink your list based on your other commitments. Be realistic in what you ‘plan’ for. Generally, you can expect to accomplish much less than what is on your list, so be sure to start with the more important and more urgent/important items first.
If you don’t currently have a planner, then get out there and get one. If you already have a planner, go ahead and put at least one of these ideas that you aren’t currently using into practice this week. Don’t delay. No excuses.
And to have peaceful, predictable, productivity for your next quarter, you will want to access the teleseminar Planning Your Next Quarter where you learn how to strategically set up your calendar one quarter at a time…