In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
If there were ever an expert on preparing for battle, the Liberator of Europe, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, certainly was one. His quote about preparation is as true as for our daily battle as it is for an invasion at Normandy.
Put simply, the act of planning is indispensable. It crystallizes thinking, brings priorities to the forefront, and puts us in a position to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Here are three steps to make the most of your planning.
1. Plan Weekly, Adjust Daily
A common mistake made by smart people is making a new plan every day. While daily adjustments are crucial, taking a bigger view, from a week out, allows us to make sure we are spending our time on our most important priorities.
One of the most important lessons from Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is the third habit, put first things first. Using his great visual analogy of the aquarium with big rocks, pebbles, sand, and water, he proves that the only way everything fits is to put the big rocks in first and allows the pebbles, sand, and water to settle in around them. Taking a weekly view allows us to get our big rocks, our big priorities into our plans first.
By planning weekly and adjusting daily, we have the benefit of both a macro and micro perspective and that is indispensable.
2. Connect Your Plan To Your Goals
Our priorities originate from our goals. In order for our planning process to keep us focused and inspired, we have to connect our plans to our goals.
Every goal has action steps. Taking those steps into account when planning for our week and adjusting them daily bring them closer to achievement. Getting those steps on our task lists and placed on our calendars make even the biggest goal seem achievable.
By connecting our plans to our goals we benefit from adding inspiration and focus to the process and that too is indispensable.
3. Write Down Three Objectives Every Morning
One of the big daily adjustments that we can make that will yield big dividends to set three objectives every morning.
Three is the magic number. Any less and we get the feeling we’re not doing enough. Any more and we begin to overwhelm ourselves. Three is the right amount to maintain focus and further move our goals to achievement.
There’s a motivating feeling of starting every day with three objectives that you know you will complete no matter what. Having three objectives that will help you achieve your goals, written down every morning is a great way to stay focused. This is a commitment that you make yourself and that is indispensable.
Once we start our day, open our email or take a phone call, our plans can fall through pretty quickly. It’s the act of planning that crystalized our thinking, set our priorities, and put us in a position to take advantage of opportunities that will keep us focused on our goals and that truly is indispensable