Carefully Laid Plans

Those of us with the planner gene have an easy time with this, but some people might bristle when I talk about project planning. To me, project planning is a fun way to spend an hour of my free time. For you, you might prefer to outsource the project planning. Neither of us is right; neither is wrong. We are just different people with different natural strengths.

I love a good project plan. It helps me take a Big Project and break it down into stages, that are easily handled by me. This method of working works for me. But it didn’t always. I had to learn how to make project plans, and then toss them aside to do the work that was before me.

This may be atypical for a planner, but I have found the greatest success by making a project plan, and then not following the plan. Somehow in the making of the project plan, my mind settles in and says, ok, I see where we are going. And with my mind quieted, my intuition can kick in and guide me to good results.

Here is how it works. Say you have a huge goal to launch a new business. It feels big and overwhelming, so you sit down with a blank sheet of paper, and map out the phases. There is a phase for idea generation for your new business. There is a phase for business start-up tasks. There is a phase for creating your products, or content to sell. There is a phase for marketing your business. Lay them all out in any way that you visualize them and let your mind take them in. This is the structure, your mind says. This is where we are headed, and I can see it all. Then, put away your project plan.

I pay little attention to what phase the task belongs to; instead, I notice my energy and my natural intuition as guides for what I want to accomplish.

When I do this, I then begin to work on my Big Projects depending on what feels best to me each day. I pay little attention to what phase the task belongs to; instead, I notice my energy and my natural intuition as guides for what I want to accomplish. When I work this way, I keep a Log Book so that I can track of every step I have taken toward my big goal. I don’t work from to-do lists. I work from daily could-do lists, and ask myself, what task do I want to do next? In this way, I work often in a non-linear fashion that may seem disordered to you, but feels natural to me. My mind accepts all this non-linear work because it has the Project Plan and knows that eventually we will bring all the phases together.

When I first started working this way, I criticized myself for not doing all the steps in order. For not following, strictly, my Project Plan. For not doing the work as I was supposed to. If you follow the goals community, there seems to be a common belief that the best way to work is to set aside time on your calendar, and then do the work you are supposed to do at that time. I hope that works for someone, because it has never worked for me. What works for me is paying attention to my energy and then maximizing that energy to get done whatever needs to be done. I even have a phrase for it: buzzing around.

Like a bee, I often float between and around different tasks throughout my day, getting little bits done on different things. I log each and every small action. At the end of the day, I don’t look at my could-do list. I look at my Log Book and say, look at all the actions I took today! This was a great day. All from just buzzing around.

If you are someone who allows a to-do list to determine whether you feel good about yourself, or your day, then I encourage you to give the Log Book a try. It’s a great way to train your brain to focus on that which went well, instead of noticing that which you did not do. This one switch has turned my inner critic into my inner noticer, who is always looking for good thing to notice.

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