3 Ways to Increase Your Planning Skills, Stay Focused and Stop Procrastinating
The mark of the superior thinker is his or her ability to accurately predict the consequences of doing or not doing something while maintaining the ability to stay focused on the long term goal. The potential consequences of any task or activity are the key determinants of how important it really is to you and to your company. This way of evaluating the significance of a task is how you determine what your next priority really is.
Stop Procrastinating and Stay Focused
This law says that, “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”
When you run out of time and the consequences for non-completion of a key task or project can be really serious, you always seem to find the time to get it done, often at the very last minute. When you have no choice, when the consequences for non-completion are serious enough, you start early, you stay focused and you drive yourself to complete the job rather than to face the unpleasantness that would follow if you didn’t get it completed within the time limit.
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Rule: “There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do.”
It has been estimated that the average person in business today, especially managers in the age of cutbacks, is working at 110% to 130% of capacity. And the jobs and responsibilities just keep piling up. Everyone has stacks of reading material they still have to go through. One study concluded recently that the average executive has 300-400 hours of reading and projects backlogged at home and at the office.
What this means is that you will never be caught up and planning skills are more crucial than ever.. All you can hope for is to stay focused and be on top of your most important responsibilities. The others will just have to wait.
Deadlines Are an Excuse
Many people say that they work better under the pressure of deadlines. Unfortunately, years of research indicate that this is seldom true.
It is much better to better your planning skills, and then build in a sizable buffer to compensate for unexpected delays and diversions. However much time you think a task will take, add on another 20% or more, or make a game of getting in done well in advance of the deadline. You will be amazed at how much more relaxed you are, and how much better a job you do when you stop procrastinating.
Increase Your Planning Skills
There are three questions that you can use on a regular basis to help you stay focused on getting your most important tasks completed on schedule. The first question is “What are my highest value activities?”
This is one of the most important questions you can ask and answer. What are your highest value activities? First, think this through for yourself. Then, ask your boss. Ask your coworkers and subordinates. Ask your friends and family. Like focusing the lens of a camera, you must be crystal clear about your highest value activities before you begin work.
The second question you can ask continually is, “What can I and only I do, that if done well, will make a real difference?”
This question comes from Peter Drucker, the management guru. It is one of the best of all questions for achieving personal effectiveness. What can you, and only you do, that if done well, can make a real difference?
Every hour of every day, you can ask yourself this question and there will be a specific answer. Your job is to use planning skills to be clear about the answer and then to start and work on this task before anything else.
The third question you can ask is “What is the most valuable use of my time, right now?”
This is the core question of time management. Answering this question correctly is the key to stop procrastinating and developing better planning skills. Every hour of every day, there is some task that is the most valuable use of your time at that moment. Your job is to ask yourself this question, over and over again, and to always be working on the answer to it, whatever it is.
Do first things first and second things not at all. As Goethe said, “The things that matter most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.”
The more accurate your answers to these questions, the easier it will be for you to set clear priorities, to stop procrastinating and to get started on that one activity that represents the most valuable use of your time.
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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.