I must admit Planning is something I'm getting better at, but I still need to improve on big time. I hear everywhere nowadays that "you must have a plan, you must have a plan.." but how many of us actually take the time to sit down and put this down on paper?:rolleyes:
From what I know it's best to start-out by deciding on a clear goal or objective that you want to achieve. This objective has to be big enough to excite you but not completely unrealistic. It has to be Real.
When I sit down to plan out my time I don't like to look much further than 6 months into the future. After that I find the goal becomes less of a priority and the longer timescale provides me with an excuse to not get started... When the goal is 12 months from now I can always be lazy and put off taking action because of the large timescale involved.
So when I have my 6 month goal I then work backwards and break all the little tasks down and give myself some benchmarks that I've got to hit as I move towards the 6 month mark. These are usually monthly intervals, so each month I know I have a particular thing I have to get done.
This is great for focusing the mind. I know for a lot of us IM is a hobby to make some extra cash but I think the key is to have a business-like approach to it. To change from an "opportunity seeker" into a strategic marketer who knows what they want, and have a Plan on how to get it!
Once I have my monthly tasks in order the real fun starts as I try and allocate enough time week-by-week to get everything done. A helpful technique that I use is to make out a simple To Do List each day before I get started. I find it helps to keep me focused and not get distracted by everything else that's going on. Also, I only check my emails at certain times and always log out of FB, MSN and Skype - they really kill my productivity!
All of this combined is great for increasing Productivity because it's not the amount of hours you work which is important, but the number of "Productive Hours" you work. That's one of the main rules I try to adhere to when I working on my IM stuff.
I have a digital timer and I'll set it for 50 mins or so, and for those 50 mins I try to stay completely focused on the task at hand and not get distracted. Again, maybe this is a little overkill but hey, each to their own....
So back to my initial question - do any of you hold much value in Planning or do you think it's garbage? If you do Plan then I'd be interested in hearing about any techniques you use...and how useful you find them.
Cheers all - Noel.