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Time Management: Lack of Planning

October 15, 2012 by Dr. Jon Warner in Time Management

In order to plan what we are going to do and how long it is likely to take us, we need a full list of tasks or goals to be achieved. A good place to start is to list all of those things that you should or would like to achieve in a given day, week or even month.

Assembling a list does not need to be done too scientifically. Some people may want to gather data on what they typically do by keeping track of how they spend their time for a few hours or even days, while others will just look at a few general categories and estimate which are applicable. In either case, your final list can now be analyzed in detail and used to start to become far better organized and time efficient.

However you go about developing your overall list of to-do items, it is critical that you objectively keep track of how you are using your time NOW before you plan how you will operate differently in the future. This takes some discipline and commitment on your part, which is why you need to set deadlines for yourself so that you accomplish this step before moving on. To summarize, in the planning step you need to:

  • List the tasks you perform throughout the day
  • Organize yourself by creating whatever log you are going to use and establishing how often you will record what you are doing
  • Discipline yourself by setting deadlines for yourself

Now that we have a planning system of some kind, we can go further and evolve our list of to-do items and one of the best ways to do this is to carefully prioritize it.

We all prioritize or re-prioritize our time in many ways every single day. However, there is a huge difference between simply rushing from one seemingly urgent task to the next, and working carefully through a well-ordered “To-Do” list. Achieving this, not only involves adding overall importance into the equation, but writing out your To-Do list in accurate language, and using some kind of prioritization system. This system suggests that “musts”, “shoulds” and “nice to do’s”, or A, B and C items, are a simple way to annotate your list of tasks and thereby create a simple priority ranking.

Of course, even an A, B and C ranking system is not the end of the story. There may well be a lot of “A” items (and even a lot of B’s). As such, a sub-prioritization process needs to be applied which takes other factors into account. This might include things like how long the task is likely to take, can the task, or parts of it, be delegated, and what is the deadline for completion?

The featured video clip is drawn from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder Time Management Video Vignette Set.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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