Effective Planning Saves Time

Do you waste time planning? Many managers do, because they spend too much time trying to organise things that are un-organisable! What I mean by this is, if you spend time trying to organise other people, you run the risk of that time being wasted because of your inability to control other people.

People don’t want to be managed. This is the oxymoron in the title ‘people manager’. A good definition of a manager is someone who plans, controls, directs and organises. How would you feel if everything you did during the day was planned for you, organised for you, directed for you and you were controlled every step of the way? I can imagine your answer!

So, when you do your daily planning, make sure you focus on things that you can control or, at least, influence. Here are some ideas:

Create a ‘to do’ list and, alongside it, a ‘will do’ list. These lists are your focal points of productivity. Take your ‘to do’ list and write down from it those items you categorically must, must, must get done today, no exception. This will be your ‘will do’ list, and shouldn’t cover more than half your day. That way, you will be able to top up from your ‘to do’ list without having to buy more time. The ‘will dos’ are those things that are crucial to get completed today. And from our experience, not everything on your ‘to do’ list falls into that category.

When you are about to start a task, ask yourself: “Is this the best use of my time right now? Is there a more efficient way of handling this task? Could it be delegated? Or am I the best person to carry this out?”

Work out the hourly rate you are paid by your company. Then ask yourself “Would I be willing to pay someone else that amount to do the hour’s work I’m about to do?” This often brings you to your senses as to the best use of your time.

Look at the next appointments you are about to handle over the next three days. Is it a valuable use of your time to meet with these people? Or would it be more suitable to phone them, conference call with them or email them? Sometimes a meeting is most suitable, but plan that out first to make sure.

Many people make mistakes when they prioritise their tasks. They start off with ‘Priority 1’ then move onto ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘4’ and so on. Let me ask you a question. How seriously and with how much passion do you tackle a ‘Priority 8’ task? Be honest!

Most people take something that’s 8 or below on their list and treat it like it’s not that important and often procrastinate with it. Here’s a simple technique…don’t view your lower-priority tasks with less enthusiasm simply because they are lower on the list. Having completed ‘Priority 1’, treat ‘Priority 2’ as the new ‘Priority 1’ !!!

That way you are taking all your tasks seriously and are less likely to procrastinate. Taking your ‘Priority 8’ seriously means you get a lot more done more effectively and efficiently.

So,don’t attempt to control others’ time…just work on what you can control and you’ll see your personal effectiveness improve dramatically.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 23 July, 2010

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