Planning is Everything

I’ve been thinking about planning and scheduling lately. No, not in the sense of writing software to automate some of the more tedious aspects of planning and scheduling. Although, the thinking I do about planning my time to allow me to make progress on all of my writing goals and creating a schedule to allow me to ensure I set aside time to work on them will undoubtedly help when I turn my attention to writing software of that sort.

I’ve done a reasonably good job of writing a minimum of seven hundred and fifty words a day in a journal for the past ten years. Usually, the goal here is to empty my mind of the various detritus that clutters it up and keeps me from focusing on creating stories and essays. On occasion though, most notably during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo as it’s often called), I use my journal habit to help find time for a more focused pursuit, like writing the aforementioned novel. The point is, I’ve developed a habit of writing my journal every day. Now, I need to figure out when I’m going to set aside time to write fiction on a daily basis.

But writing fiction isn’t the only activity vying for my limited time. There is also rewriting, editing, proof reading, and all the other incidental activities requisite in producing a polished, publishable product. And that is not even considering finding time to write and lightly edit the weekly blog post that I committed to this year. The one that you are reading right now in fact.

I have good intentions of writing several blog posts in advance so that I don’t get in a time crunch and find myself writing my blog post at the last minute in order to publish it every Monday at noon as planned. That hasn’t happened yet although I do have some hope of getting a few posts ahead before we get too much further into the year.

Dwight Eisenhower once said “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” It has taken me a while to appreciate the wisdom behind that statement. The way I’ve come to understand it is that the process of planning forces you to think about how to accomplish the activity you are undertaking. The plan that you come up with is merely one way of accomplishing the task. There are other ways of doing it, some better, some worse.

When you set out to execute a plan, you discover all the details that you overlooked while planning. The good news is, you have given some thought to the details that you didn’t overlook, thus reducing the amount of work you have to do while replanning in the moment. Also, you have practiced thinking about the problem so you have a better idea of where to start when you are considering how to proceed when you are replanning.

Habits help. If you can do something every day for two weeks, you will have established it as a habit. Once you have established a habit, adding a new aspect to that habit is a lot easier than establishing the habit was initially. For example, I have a strongly established habit of writing a journal entry every day. When I decided to add a practice of identifying three things that I was grateful for each day, I tagged that activity on to the end of writing my journal entry and established the habit immediately.

Take time to list your goals. Then prioritize them. Take the highest priority goal and schedule some time, fifteen minute a day perhaps, to dedicate toward achieving that goal. Keep that daily commitment for two weeks. Soon you will have achieved your highest priority goal. Take the next goal on your list and do the same with it. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you will start achieving your goals.