In its simplest form, a plan is a list of every activity that you will have to engage in, from the beginning to the end, in accomplishing a specific goal or objective. To begin the process of planning, you take a sheet of paper and you make a list of everything that you can think of that you will have to do to achieve your goal.
Determine Priority and Sequence
The process of planning is for you to now organize your list by priority and sequence. You organize the items on your list by priority, by determining which tasks or activities are more important than other tasks or activities. You organize the items from number one, the most important, all the way through to the least important.
You organize your list by sequence, as well. In sequencing, you determine which activities need to be done before or after other activities. Often, one task cannot be accomplished until another task has been completed. Sometimes, the accomplishment of a single task can be the bottleneck or chokepoint in the entire process.
Identify The Limiting Factor
In planning, very often the success of the plan will be determined by the achievement of a particular goal or objective within the plan. It may be the completion of construction on a new office, store or factory. It may be the date of delivery of the first finished product or service. It may be the achievement of a particular level of sales by a specific date. It could be the hiring of a key person for an essential job. The planning process helps you to identify the vital elements of the plan and focus more of your time and attention on the most important tasks and activities that must be accomplished before success is possible.
Expect Failure At First
No plan is perfect the first time it is created. Most plans to accomplish something new will fail over and over again at the beginning. This is to be expected. Your ability to accept feedback and make corrections to your plans of activity is vital to your success. Keep asking, “What’s working?” and “What’s not working?” Be more concerned with what’s right rather than who’s right.
Remember the old saying, “Back to the drawing board!” Whenever you plan doesn’t work, relax, take a deep breath, and revisit your plan.
Focus On the Solution
When you have a problem, resolve to be solution oriented. Expect difficulties as a part of the process and resolve to respond to them effectively. If you are not achieving your goals on schedule, ask, “What is the problem? What else is the problem? What are thesolutions? What else is a solution? What can we do now? What is the next step?”
It seems that when you begin work on the achievement of a new goal, you immediately experience setbacks, obstacles, difficulties and temporary failure. This is to be expected. It is normal and natural. It takes tremendous effort to launch something new and make it successful. But this is the price that you have to pay to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself.
Think On Paper
Always think on paper. Be continually making lists and sub- lists of every step in every process. Keep updating and revising your plan, making it better and better, until it is perfect.
Remember, planning is a skill. Because it is a skill, it is completely learnable. Your ability to think, plan, organize and initiate action toward your goal will eventually put you in the top 10% of your field. But it takes time.
One of the ways that you can “think on paper” is to create a project planning sheet for the accomplishment of a multi task goal. Inthis way, you create a visual image of your goal, and the steps you need to take to achieve it. This can be very helpful in opening your eyes to the strengths and weaknesses of the planning process.