Planning doesn’t always come easily to some of us. Sometimes we need advice, pointers, or check-ins to help make sure that we meet the mark. Yet, planning can come with pitfalls and mistakes that we often run into for lack of consideration.
One the best examples is when you’ve prepared breakfast, gotten the kids ready for school, you’ve dropped them off, and then you run into traffic that sometimes ends in a 50-yard dash for the office door or classroom.
And that’s why we’re here today to pinpoint some of the weak spots in your planning that can be shored up to help you meet the mark more consistently. Here are 4 fixes for the biggest mistakes you make when planning your workday:
1. Factor in the unexpected.
We can't count on traffic to always be to the same degree each day, and that's why it's best to factor in any issues that we can run into. If you're expected to be seated and working by 8:00 a.m. and have an hour commute, then it might be best to leave home 45 minutes to an hour early to make sure you leave enough buffer time for traffic.
If you have children, then you know that sickness can seem to happen almost at the drop of a hat and a change of plans is needed, so you may need to adjust your preparation routine for the week by pre-planning breakfast ahead of time by possibly making bacon, sausage, pancakes, or waffles the night before so that the kids can reheat and eat in the morning.
If you're a business professional and find yourself spending time with clients over their scheduled appointment time, then this is definitely a must. Here's how to manage appointments better: factor in some buffer room so that you and your clients can have time to discuss questions that might come up, or if in the case of interview scheduling, allot enough time to cover for unexpected overage so that your time is better managed.
And let's not forget when office equipment stops working without warning! Prepare for equipment malfunctions (especially if the equipment is on the older side) by having an alternate route for your task, whether you need to print presentation slides for a report or prepare handouts for students in class. One of the worst things that can happen is not having enough for students to do or not being able to present the new marketing campaign you've come up with for the next month.
2. Don't forget to set automatic reminders.
If you struggle to remember dates, times, and often misplace the small slip of paper that you jotted down one of your client's appointments on, then you definitely should consider setting automatic reminders. If you accept medical appointments, offer home service visits, or attend meetings then setting automatic reminders can certainly be helpful.
For home service visits, if you're expected to be at a client's home by a certain hour, then you can set up automatic reminders for appointment for 24 hours in advance, 12 hours in advance, or even 1 hour in advance using an online scheduling system. If you're a manager or administrator with frequent meetings throughout the day, plan those meetings through a calendar app like Google Calendar and sync your calendar with your appointment management system if you have clients or open office hours for students.
3. Set limits for reaching your goals.
Don't let perfectionism eat away at progress. Set limits for reaching your goals instead of overworking. As we mentioned in our previous post on reasons why you keep falling short of your goals, striving for perfection and not reaching it within a certain span of time can set you back. Instead, if your goal might be to email updates to your subscribers in one day, then you might limit yourself to one or one and half hours of completing that task and then moving on to tackle the next. Or, if you get wound up in creativity (which we sometimes do), try to figure out where you went off on a tangent and re-align yourself so that you can complete the task on time.
4. Acknowledge what's not of best interest.
If it would not be of good interest to take on additional responsibilities such as chairing a school committee or spearheading an additional project, then it's best to acknowledge it up front. Don't spread yourself too thin by taking on too many responsibilities and not being able to optimally navigate them.
For example, sometimes we're enthusiastic and want to take on more active roles within our kids' schools, community, or at work. You might have experienced this when trying to lead multiple initiatives at work or in the community, and found yourself neglecting other responsibilities that were more urgent. Sometimes we try to do this to boost our notoriety or experience, and then we realize that our choice was more costly. Determine your strengths and limits, and then optimize them for your interests so that they work well for everyone.
Know of another mistake that we tend to make when planning our workday? Tweet us the 5th mistake you would add to our list, and then leave a comment below letting us know how each of us can optimize our scheduling to avoid it. For now, happy scheduling!