In this episode we’re going to talk about the value of planning for a productive life.
Planning our days and projects
I recently asked for your feedback and suggestions about topics. Several people asked about how I manage tasks and plan. I thought it was a great time to talk about planning in general and share a bit about what works for me.
What is planning?
Wikipedia says this:
“Planning is the process of thinking regarding the activities required to achieve a desired goal. Planning is based on foresight, the fundamental capacity for mental time travel. The evolution of forethought, the capacity to think ahead, is considered to have been a prime mover in human evolution. Planning is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior. It involves the use of logic and imagination to visualize not only a desired end result, but the steps necessary to achieve that result. An important aspect of planning is its relationship to forecasting. Forecasting aims to predict what the future will look like, while planning imagines what the future could look like.”
Planning is about taking time now to look ahead to the future--whether the next hour, the current day, or weeks or months ahead--envision an outcome, and strategize how to get from here to there.
Types of planning
Writers on entarga.com outlined an interesting summary of four approaches to planning (definitely check out their article for an explanation of each):
* Reactive - past oriented
* Inactive - present oriented
* Preactive - predict the future
* Proactive - create the future
Planning in general
Why plan and what is the benefit?
Strategic planning in business is an important part of an organization’s success. An article called Approaches to Planning describes common approaches to strategic planning in business, including SWOT analysis, which I'd heard of before, and PEST analysis, which I hadn't.
Briefly, in SWOT analysis, the goal is to dentify the business’s objectives and then “all the internal and external factors that will affect this objective, both favorably and adversely.” SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities (“characteristics in the environment that the business or project might exploit to its advantage”), and Threats (“characteristics in the environment that might cause trouble for the business.”)
In PEST analysis, you look political, economic, socio-cultural, and technological factors that could affect the project or desired outcome. The article referenced above says a variant--PESTEL or PESTLE--adds legal and environmental factors and is popular with businesses in the UK.
How does this apply to our personal/professional lives?
Planning saves time by allowing you to prepare for obstacles and assemble resources. It’s like having a map or GPS directions on a trip. If you didn’t look at the route ahead of time, you might still get to your destination, but it likely would take longer due to the wandering, the detours, etc. Planning clarifies the process and creates the most efficient route from A to B (or L or Z).
Planning can help prevent delays. As I was preparing for this episode I was in the midst of a project I didn’t adequately plan for. I had been wanting to try a new recipe, started to gather the ingredients,
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