Effective planning puts you in the control seat. For a variety of good and bad reasons, many people are not very organised and as a result are often left struggling to do things at the last minute. For example: if you know in advance when you want to take holidays and ask your boss 6 months in advance you are far more likely to get approval for the dates you want. If you make sure you avoid the busy seasons in your workplace, then you are even more likely to get what you want. Planning puts you in control.
Employees think business owners and bosses have the control. They do have some power, but if they are not good at planning then they do not necessarily have much control over their life or their business. When people say they have received surprise bills in the mail. It is not that someone suddenly gained the power to start charging them for no good reason. What they really mean is that they had not planned their finances and had not managed their cash flow sufficiently well to be able to pay their electricity or car registration or whatever it is. Planning puts you in control.
Some people I know are always getting into trouble because they forget their wedding anniversary or other important dates in their family calendar. If they do remember the date, they rarely manage to do that little bit extra to make celebrating the occasion special. It is a foreign idea to some where they may take a leisurely hour a few week’s before the date to think and plan, to book venues, to arrange flowers, to organise something special that they know their partner will love. If there is a shortage of money, then to arrange to have all the ingredients for a picnic hamper so that you can at least go to the beach or mountains and have a day out. The expense is not usually what touches the heart, it is the thoughtfulness and the planning. Planning puts you in control.
There are so many variables that need to be coordinated in any business. So even the least organised people have to learn to plan in order to succeed. So we plan our work environment but often just hope for the best about our personal lives. We respond to other people’s planning of parties, weddings, family birthdays, work days at a mates or the local school or church. Except for huge events like weddings we rarely plan our lives with much detail. The (other) people who do the planning are the ones who are in control.
6 simple keys for planning:
- Have one diary (paper or digital) for your whole life. Put all your important family dates in there. Digital diaries can be set for ever. Unless you are in a high security position, do not have a work diary and a home diary. Things will fall in the cracks. Then get used to checking your diary every day.
- Put your holidays in your calendar first. My wife and I do this in October for the following year. We have a week off each quarter so we always have a holiday coming up within the next 3 months. This gives us something to anticipate on those tough days.
- Take a ‘whole of life’ approach. Divide your life into 8 – 10 segments such as: personal growth, partner, children, family, work, work2 (if you have a busy job), health, leisure, house and yard, wealth creation, and friends. Then set 1 – 3 goals for each of these areas for this year. Work out how you are going to make those goals happen. E.g. a health goal may involve going to the gym 3 days per week. Decide which days are most likely to work best and schedule them in.
- Set goals annually and plan quarterly. Every year in December or January take a day to review the previous year and to set your goals across each area of your life. Then work out what it will take in time and money to make those plans happen for the first quarter. Every 90 days or 13 weeks take an hour or two and review your progress and reset your plans for the next quarter.
- Work out your budget. If you learn to plan like this, you can work out quite easily what you need to spend each week or month for your lifestyle. You can also allow an amount for monthly (telephone); quarterly (electricity) and annual expenses (car registration). If you are tight financially it is worth changing as many bills as possible to monthly (e.g. insurances) so you can keep tighter control. Then add an amount for entertainment (eating out, a movie), clothes purchases, etc. Go through your spending from the past year (at tax time) and make sure you have a reasonable idea of what you expect to spend across your life. When you add it up and divide by 52 you will know what you need to allocate every week.
- Leave margins. A principle we live by is to always overestimate costs so we always have a buffer or margins in our life. This applies to the two main commodities we measure in life – money and time. Always leave some room to be generous and spontaneous with time and money. We always plan a long weekend every 4 weeks (like a RDO). When you set aside money and are future oriented like this it helps you be spontaneous. E.g. my wife and I have this coming Monday off and so we have decided at the last minute to book a hotel in Manly on Sunday night so we can wake up at the beach and maximise the day. The fact we have budget for entertainment and have both planned ahead means we can be spontaneous without credit card remorse or affecting our work.
If your life is feeling out of control. You never have enough time or money to do the things you would like to do. If you feel like you are always responding to other people’s agendas and are not able to pursue your own goals. Then can I suggest that you learn to invest a few hours 4 times per year and learn how to plan.
Planning puts YOU in control.
To help you take control I offer: