You’re looking to start getting your life together, planning for those lingering goals and start making some effort, but you don’t know where to begin. That is something that I’ve been trying to master over the last few months, with my growing workload, trying to finish my University degree and get my book published. I noticed that there would be days where I felt like I could conquer the world and days where I just can’t seem to stay focused enough to get anything substantial done. I needed a way to take charge of the day, so I wouldn’t have to go to bed every night wishing I would’ve done more. These are the few tips that helped me to change my planning game and finally start making progress.
Acknowledge Your Creative Peak
When are you the most creative? I know other writers who can’t write in the wee hours of the morning. They thrive during the evenings, finding their words easily, and finishing incredible stories. I’m not one of those people. My creative energy wears off around six o clock, and I didn’t realize this until I forced myself to start getting up earlier. I was always under the impression that I was a night owl until I started waking up at 7 A.M. and getting myself to a local cafe to get some work done. Acknowledge your creative peak, and it’ll help you stay on track with that goal list of yours.
Make Room for the Impossible
Learning to plan for error seems useless, but hear me out. A lot of the days where things don’t seem to follow the extensive schedule I outlined the night before, usually end up with me giving up halfway through. I needed to start planning for the possibility of having to change things around throughout my workday. By allowing yourself to tailor your day as it goes, you’ll not only keep an eye on those pesky to-dos, but you’ll also be able to channel your creativity in a way that inspires excellent work-without giving up somewhere in the middle.
Train Your Brain to Stay Focused
“If it can be done now, do it now. Don’t put it off until tomorrow.” Those are words I live by, and it saves me a significant amount of time when I’m working past the to-dos if I have the time. When I first started freelancing full-time, it was hard for me to stay focused long enough to work for more than an hour at a time. So, I started working in intervals, giving myself about a half-hour in between to switch things up or take a break. This has helped me stay working for longer, and it gets me back into the mindset of getting things done when I fall off track.
Use Your Planning Tools
Some people can’t stand a traditional planner. Some hate digital calendars, and some love them all. I’m one of those people. My planning routine usually lasts about fifteen minutes on Monday morning, where I look over my deadlines, write them down, and input them into my google calendar. I use Trello to keep track of my to-dos, ideas, and mindless things I need to remember to do like buy shampoo.
Get it Done Before the Deadline
Please, don’t leave things for the night before your big deadline. Your professors have told you this, your boss has told you this, and you still can’t seem to get out of the mindset that you have to be under pressure to do great work. If you’re thinking like that, you’re going about your work routine incorrectly. I will say, having a time crunch does help to force the words out, but this shouldn’t lead to frustration and exhaustion every time you’re trying to get the work done. Set a timer, write relentlessly, take a break, and do it again. That goes for any to-do on your list.
Finally, if you’re trying to start tackling a passion project or something you’ve wanted to accomplish for some time, make a realistic plan. Give yourself a deadline that works, and one that you’ll stick to no matter what. Track your progress, and schedule time in your calendar to let loose and be creative.
That’s how you plan like a pro.
Anisa Nasir is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and family. She’s the writer behind As She Writes.