Plan smart with tricks up the sleeve

Work and lifestyle hacks that give planners more quality time on their hands.

Time and tide wait for no man, but planning and life hacks will save the day.
Time and tide wait for no man, but planning and life hacks will save the day. Photo Credit: gettyimages/tumsasedgars

Planners know no rest, whether furiously typing away, plodding ceaselessly along the halls, or orchestrating perfect set-ups. Going according to schedule and smoothly too, are paramount to calming the inner OCD that planners tend to possess.

With limited time to spare, carving out the extra minutes or hours requires steadfast discipline, focus and putting the talent for planning to good use.

Here are some reminders to start 2022 on the right foot:

Plan in advance

It’s basic, but worth belabouring the point. Have a line of sight to the week ahead, and leave pockets of time for unexpected things that crop up so as not to derail the completion of action items that are already locked in.

Colour coding the calendar always works too to make it easy to reference at a glance. Besides your own personal list, there are also myriad apps available on project scheduling and management that help with organisation and time efficiency as well. It just takes a little bit of time to get used to a platform, but after that, you are off and running. Besides Teams and Google calendar, check out other apps with more features. For eg, Asana, Timely, Freedcamp, Trello.

Prioritise your time

What action items should you work on first? The more pressing ones, the big chores or the simplest task that fits into the two-minute rule? Commit to the checklist and work through it systematically.

Frame up the action items that are important to tackle on a list. Go through the list from the top in order of importance and do not skip any items. This checklist allows you to also check off the mental load and it eases the mind. It’s a simple act that has an impact in influencing a positive mental state.

Determine your optimal time for productivity

How does your level of productivity vary over the course of the day? Are you a morning person or do you need more time to work up to the more mentally intensive tasks? Figuring out your most optimal time of the day will enable you to churn out more deliverables in a shorter amount of time.

Then, importantly, work according to your most optimal productivity level and the timing for it. For instance, if the morning gives you the best buzz, then tackle the bigger action items that are more mentally intensive and challenging to do. If you don’t know yourself and work according to your natural momentum, it’s like driving in sixth gear with the hand brake on. You’ll get worn out in due time. Here’s a useful self-test to take from Psychology Today.

Routines create flow and momentum

When things get chaotic, the best way out is to literally put the best foot forward and continue to move in a familiar routine. It helps to keep things going on days when external factors may threaten to slow you down.

So, adopt a routine, or several, and stick to it to help you stay on track. For instance, going for evening runs to clear the mind daily; prepping and freezing dinner portions for the week to minimise cooking time; or setting aside time before going to bed to recap and remember learning points for the day.

Give yourself reward points

Oftentimes, planners worry about a thousand other things, except themselves. To become the lean, mean planning machine they have become, they may have forgotten to think about themselves and to enjoy the small daily rewards that help keep them going on a positive track.

Establish your own detailed reward system for the things that you achieve at work. Set up a points system for the various tasks that you complete, and accumulate your points for a reward. Depending on whether it’s a small or big task you have completed, or a project goal you have achieved, the reward will make it all the sweeter and satisfying. An appointment at the spa? A dinner reservation at your favourite omakase restaurant? Or maybe just simply an hour of your favorite Korean drama?

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