10 x Practical Tips for the Best Planning
Good chance that you – like 90% of all people – sometimes lose the overview, drown in your to-do list and watch your must-do-list only get longer and longer (instead of shorter). With far too many headaches as a result.
One of the solutions lies in good planning. Because: good planning is half the job.
The other half is your work attitude.
Just ask yourself:
Am I working with focus?
Are my priorities in order?
Am I using the OKR method?
Do I help myself to focus (or am I distracting myself)?
Do I use Boomerang, Asana or other time management tools?
If the answer to one (or more) of the above questions is 'no', we recommend that you read on. Below we set out our best tips and tools for more efficient planning, more productive work attitude and above all: a lot less stress.
So put your phone away, close disturbing tabs and choose a moment of focus.
Ready for? Here we go!
1. Welcome to the world of OKRS
OKR what? O = Objective / KR = Key Results.
The OKR system is a handy way to organize your goals, sub-goals and tasks. And therefore your priorities. At MOYU we all use it, so we're all on the same page.
Objective: determine an end goal. Your dot on the horizon. What do you want to have achieved in x number of months or in a year? Think of this as your final destination.
Tip: Be as specific as possible. “I want to lose 10 kilos” is more specific (and better) than “I want to lose weight”.
Key Result: which sub-goals support this higher purpose? Suppose you want to double the number of visitors to your website. Then you will have to set a sub-goal to, for example, increase organic traffic, or to attract more paid visitors through advertisements. A KR can then be “I'm setting up three new campaigns”. Or, in the case of weight loss, “I can cook ten healthy meals.”
Simple, but effective.
Activities: now determine which actions you need to perform to achieve those sub-goals (and therefore your higher goal). Are you going to work on SEO content? Do you schedule time every week for developing a new campaign concept? Is Tuesday your healthy-and-new-recipe-try day?
These activities must therefore directly or indirectly contribute to the higher goal, your objective.
Tip: Really give this OKR system a try. Many of us do a lot of work every day, but do it without a clear (measurable) end goal.
2. Pick your priorities
If you know clearly where you want to go, it's easier to list your priorities. If you make a daily, weekly, monthly or even annual plan, always check whether your planned activities really contribute to the higher goal that you want to achieve.
Tip: Set yourself one important task a day that you absolutely must complete. Work on this right away in the morning, so that you have already finished the most important thing of that day before 12:00. We guarantee you it gives a good feeling ;-).
3. Use the right planning tools
Your brain is not made to remember and oversee many different things. Therefore, work with a planning tool that you find comfortable.
Our favorite systems:
In this online system you can manage your agenda, set up timelines, create projects, switch with colleagues and work with goals, sub-goals and even sub-sub-goals.
A (stone) paper calendar can work wonderfully, but a digital agenda offers many more possibilities. Think of inviting colleagues, creating online meetings and shifting tasks if necessary. Prefer a physical agenda? Then take a look at this erasable weekly planner from Dennis Storm.
The Power Placemat is always standard on our desk. This planning tool helps you to keep more overview in your tasks and gives you the opportunity to write, scribble, etcetera.
4. Give yourself some (extra) time
It's oh-so-tempting to fill up your calendar completely. Because then everything supposedly fits. On paper, at least. Make sure you also plan some blocks of 'nothing', or work out time, prep time, etcetera. These are often tasks that a) MUST be done and b) don't actually deserve time in your calendar right now. As a result, you quickly fall behind the facts.
So be realistic in your planning and take into account different types of tasks, from updating your mailbox to preparing a meeting.
5. Choose focus (in stead of distraction)
Anyone who wants to be distracted in 2022 only has to look at the ten tabs that are open on his or her screen. Or turn on the notifications. Or constantly checking emails.
You get the idea: distraction is always there. The question is: what do you choose? Focus, or distraction?
So turn off those notifications, keep only one tab open, don't check your email in between and possibly use (noise-cancelling) headphones. This saves you from stimuli and noises from outside.
Tip: Use the Boomerang tool to set if and when emails come in – for example, only between 09:00-09:30 and between 16:30-17:00. We are really big fans of this, because you know that it is useless to check your email: nothing is coming in anyway. And so you stay far away from your inbox.
6. Listen to your own energy level
As much as we want to be super(wo)men, unfortunately most of us (usually) are not.
So listen to your own energy level and take that into account in your planning.
Is your creativity high in the morning? Take advantage of it and schedule a block of brainstorming in the morning. Do you get tired after lunch? Give yourself the space to walk around the block, meditate, cuddle with your dog, etcetera.
Tip: Headspace is a great meditation app with which you can do guided meditations for example, more focus, but also more peace, self-confidence, purposefulness, etcetera. We love it!
7. Dare to say ‘no’
“No” is a powerful word. So use it when you need it. And that's more often than you think.
By saying “no” to a task, request or phone call, you define your boundaries and you make them clear to someone else.
Tip: This may not be nice to hear, but everyone is replaceable. So are you. If you say “no” to a task, there is always someone else who can take on the task.
8. Experience the power of erasing ;-)
Have you completed a task? Check it off! As a result, you briefly experience a feeling of happiness, because your brain sees this as a reward.
Tip: Do you want to take your happiness to a higher level after completing a task? Then erase the task. This also gives you more overview, space and a wonderfully tidy feeling.
9. Take brakes
Racing through your work sometimes is useful, and sometimes fun, but not if it's at the expense of your focus. Block your calendar by planning regular breaks. You can also use the Pomodoro technique: set your timer to 30, 40 or 50 minutes and work on a task during that time with all your attention. When your timer goes off, take a 10-15 minute break. This way you keep your brain fresh and sharp.
Tip: Make the most of your break by exercising. Go around the block, do some stretching exercises, a downward facing dog or do a dance. Whatever works best for you.
10. Create and keep those healthy work habits
You have probably tried to use at least one of the above tips before.
Very good. But… are you still using them right now?
As humans we are very good at starting something new, but keeping it going is often a problem. Makes sense, because we like to fall back to old habits quickly.
If you want to improve your work attitude in the long term, you will have to hone new work habits.
Tip: Successfully change your habits? Read here how to do that!
Would you like to share another tip for better planning or work attitude? Share it with us in the comments and we'll put your tip in this article!