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One of my 101 things I have on my list is to become a better planner…or more appropriately, “#35. Read a book on how to become a better planner”. I am not a great planner. I pay my bills on time, I make it to appointments when I am suppose to but is not that what it takes to live in our society? What about those who go above and beyond the call of duty?
I recently went on a surprise trip with my wife and some dear friends to Las Vegas, Nevada (you can read the post here). My wife, Brendy, surprised me, planned the entire trip and even worked behind my back, collecting everything in cash to bankroll the trip. I’ll just say I felt spoiled but more importantly I felt loved (not because of the amount of money spent but because Brendy really thought through the entire thing). My wife IS A MASTER PLANNER.
On my 101 list I put “Read a book on how to become a better planner” because I want to become a better planner myself (reading is my default learning platform). I’ve searched a bit now and have not found what I believe to be a good book (or blog) on personal planning. (If you have a resource on personal planning, please let me know via the comments or email.) However, I realized I married one of the best planner’s I know. So I asked her what makes a good planner.
Q: What makes a great planner?
A: Plan to plan
If you make a plan to plan, everything else falls into place. For instance, Brendy takes 2 to 3 minutes before bed and plans. She thinks of the items to be done the following day, the following week and even the following month. From here you can create new and add-to lists (in the next paragraph) create your agenda and do a brain dump. Brain dumps are an essential part of becoming a great planner. Have you ever ran an old Windows computer for years without turning it off (am I the only one?) the computer starts to lag, it starts to miss things. This is the same thing for humans. Turn off that computer in your head and clear the thing. Do a brain dump, put everything up there on paper and then–shut down! Turn your brain off. Move to something else. Your brain is not a good filing cabinet. When you do this you will find that your sleep will be sweeter and your days will be fuller.
Q: What do you do once you’ve made a “plan to plan”
A: Make To-Do List
Once you have taken the time to “plan to plan”, then it’s time to transfer those items in your head to lists. Your brain stores thoughts and ideas like cobwebs. By putting ideas from your brain into bullet points you help to get a better grasp of what you truly want to accomplish. The key is to make it simple. We as humans over estimate what we can do in a day…yet we under estimate what we can do in a year. Therefore, think of the 3 to 5 most important things for that day and put those things down.
“Humans over estimate what [they] can do in a day…[and] under estimate what [they] can do in a year”
For those items that do not make it into the To-Do List, make lists. Yeah, that’s right. You have a capacity of 3 to 5 large things a day. All the rest go on lists for another day. As you do your planning for the following day each night, go through your lists to see what may be able to be performed in the near future. Some of my favorite lists include: Someday Maybe, Gift Ideas, Project Breakout, Vacation Plans and of course, I could never forget the 101 List. Get creative. Start your own that work for you.
Along with your lists, start making go to checklists for things like vacation planning, year end goal self audits, packing your suitcase and anything else that can be systematized to a checklist (i.e. camping packing, shopping, birthdays, passwords, etc). This sounded crazy to me but think about it, how many times have you left for a vacation and wondered if you remembered your camera? Make a list, check that item off and you will never wonder again.
Where and how you make your lists is all up to you. Make them on your iPad, your agenda book, your laptop, or unopened junk mail envelops, it doesn’t matter…just make your list and you will be on your way to becoming a rockstar planner!