Before you are going to do something, there is nothing as sensible as goal planning. A plan as we know it is something thought about and chalked out in advance before the real action takes place and is actually a recipe for success. Pretty good definition, huh? I made it up myself.
But then, the word ‘plan’ does not need much of a definition. It has been used so much that it has become quite hackneyed. So, we all know what it means, but how many of us really resort to planning before we start a course of action.
No, I’m not referring to a mental picture that we chart out in our minds that is in one word, vague. I mean a real plan in black and white, that is, put down on a piece of paper. Please do not underestimate the importance of a written down plan. Once we write down something it clears up a lot of hazy areas and opens aspects that we probably overlooked.
And the most important of all is that with a plan and only with a plan can we get a rough estimate at least, of how much time the course of action would take. Plans should always be time bound and there we get the relation between time management and planning. In fact, planning is as fundamental to time management as organizing and prioritizing. The advantages of planning are given below.
The advantages of planning
- Planning helps us to have a better idea about the course of action that we propose to take.
- Planning better defines the course of action that we propose to undertake.
- Planning gives a rough estimate of the time required for a project.
- Planning gives us a fairly good idea about the expenses involved in the project. In fact a budget is also a plan, a financial plan.
- Planning helps us to get prepared for emergencies that may arise during the course of the project.
- A well though about plan gives us a clear idea about what is to be done every day, every week and every month.
- Planning helps avoid duplication of labor.
- If a plan is followed, every one will have a clear idea about his or her role.
A point that I would like to add while we are talking about planning is, we should have both short term plans as well as long term strategy plans. At the same time we should also try to draft out contingency plans to deal with a crisis if it arises. There are lots of good free planning resources online. Just try a search and you’ll have a long list of sites to choose from.
I thought it would be useful for you to have a brief overview of the different steps involved in planning.
The steps in planning are
- Set objectives
- Assess you present situation
- Survey your alternatives
- Decide on the course of action
- Provide for control
- Implement the plan
But whatever be the plan, I again want to stress the point that a plan should always be time bound. As the project moves along, the plan should be flexible in the sense that it should incorporate any changes that might prove necessary once the project is put into action.