Hello everyone! Last week I hopefully sold you on WHY planning is essential to getting what you want. This week I want to share the process that I, and many of my clients, utilize to achieve the outcomes that we desire. Plus, I’m even throwing in a worksheet that you can use to get started!
Another bonus to using this process and sticking with it is that it helps you to build a really strong relationship with yourself. You see, when you plan something, and despite all the urges to do something else you still follow through with whatever is on your calendar, you end up increasing self-trust. Doing what you say you are going to do and when represents immense personal power. Ready to improve your self-trust, personal power, AND get what you want?
Here’s how it’s going to go down.
First, you’re going to schedule yourself a sacred hour each week in which to complete the planning process. Some people prefer to do this on Sunday afternoon or evening, and others prefer to do it on Monday morning. You may even find that a different day or time during the week works best for you and that’s okay, too! Go with what makes sense for you. I also recommend you use a dedicated notebook or journal for your weekly planning sessions (once it’s full, it’s really cool to go back and see how far you’ve come!) but a few pieces of paper will also do the trick.
Start by writing down every single thing you want to do and that you have to do for the upcoming week. Every. Single. Thing. You can include work and personal on the same list or separate them into two separate entities. As you write, keep asking yourself “what else?”. This may sound overwhelming at first, but the intention here is just to get it out of your brain and onto paper. Having to think about it over and over again can have a negative effect on you, so this really serves to clear out the cobwebs in your brain and allow you to shift your precious brainpower into action-mode.
After this step is complete, you can allow your brain to rest for a little while as your brain doesn’t have to keep thinking about the same tasks over and over again.
Write down all of the obstacles that typically get in the way of getting these tasks done. Let’s say for example you need to set up a website for a new business, but you find yourself continuing to put it off because you aren’t super tech-savvy or aren’t clear on where to start. Brainstorm ways you can overcome the obstacles for each task and jot them down accordingly. In this example, it may be that you schedule yourself some time to figure out the tech, or maybe the solution is simply to hire someone who specializes in website design.
As you take this second pass through your list, double-check to confirm there is nothing on the list that you no longer need, want, or have to do, and remove it if applicable. This way, you have a really accurate final list before moving on to Step Three.
Now that you’re super clear on what needs to get done, it’s time to prioritize how you’ll tackle these tasks. What is the most important thing on the list? When does each item need to be completed? This is how you’ll determine what to do first. Try to remain calm during this part of the process and be really realistic with both the prioritization of and the time it will take to complete each task.
As you continue with your weekly planning sessions, you will notice that the urgency and panic will begin to subside. If you are planning well, nothing has to be urgent!
Once you have your completed, prioritized list, it’s time to transfer these tasks to your calendar. I’m warning you now – you will probably not want to do this. I encourage you to keep in mind that this part of the process is critical for that dreamy personal power I mentioned earlier. As you transfer your tasks from list to calendar, don’t forget to account for free time which you can also schedule in advance.
After all the tasks are transferred to your calendar, get rid of the list! If you’re using single sheets of paper, crumple them up and throw them away. If you’re using a dedicated notebook or journal, put it up and out of sight until you need it again for your next planning session. The goal here is to rely solely on the completed calendar.
Now, all you have to do is follow your calendar. I suggest being strategic about turning off notifications and limiting distractions as much as possible during your allotted time. Keep in mind that if you don’t get each task done in the timeframe you’ve set aside for it, you will likely have to dip into your free time to make up for it. This is a mistake people don’t often make more than once!
Try to be gentle with yourself as you get into the swing of things with this new habit, but I will warn you – when the time comes to clean out your closet (or whatever the task at hand is), there is a good chance the primitive part of your brain will kick in and encourage you to watch Netflix and eat chips and dip instead. This is where brain-management comes in…
You will have urges to go on autopilot and engage in activities that provide you with instant gratification. Make decisions ahead of time and learn how to allow those urges while also NOT doing the thing that your primitive/toddler brain wants you to do. Be present with any feeling that comes up (typically it is restlessness, anxiety, or feelings of deprivation). It’s okay to accept and acknowledge those feelings while continuing on with your calendar item.
Your life changes when you are able to allow or overcome those urges to engage in delayed gratification. You start operating with your prefrontal cortex that has your best interest in mind. When we choose activities that engage instant gratification, we rob our future selves. When you honor your calendar and your commitments to yourself, you honor your future self instead of robbing it.
Plus, when you make decisions ahead of time, you don’t have to rely on will-power in the moment. The decision has already been made, and it’s been made with the best interest of your future self in mind. Honor the pre-frontal cortex and you will have the life you want! The calendar is the vehicle to get you there.
I hope you’re sold on the power of planning! Your future selves can thank me later 🙂 Click here to download the planning worksheet that will help walk you through this process.
The holidays are rapidly approaching! Think of what things might look like for you this time in 2021 if you give yourself the gift of coaching! If you are interested in getting started yourself or giving the gift of coaching to a dear loved one this holiday season, reach out to schedule a connection call and let’s chat about how I can help!
Mind Your Strength,
Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S, is a licensed social worker, holding a Master’s Degree (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. After spending 2 decades helping others achieve their mental and personal goals, Melanie worked with Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo, and became a certified Life and Weight Coach through the Life Coach School.