Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail

A Critical Doer understands time; long and short view 


In “The Manager’s Diary” blog, a writer named Cameron posted a short but spot-on post about the most important meeting you’ll have all week…one with yourself.  A Critical Doer is all about getting things done, but the thing that separates us from others is that our action always has an answer to the question…”action for what purpose?”  That’s why it should scare you when leaders or managers in particular are working at a frenetic pace but don’t have an answer for why they’re doing what they’re doing.

In Cameron’s simple but effective solution to schedule a meeting with yourself, all he’s saying is make time to plan.  Although this is a good chunk of the answer, it’s not complete.  The solution guides you to plan but not what to plan for and how to manage time.  As you begin a new week, here are some tips to help you plan effectively and manage the crucial element of time.

  1. Obligate your time with only the things you can do before obligating time for things others can do. If you fail to think through the things that only you can do, you will squander away far more than your own time.  You’ll squander many other people’s time away as well because they will be at an impasse because you haven’t put them in a position to move forward.
  2. Delegate time in the same way you delegate tasks. In general, the more executive in nature the farther out in time you should be working.  The closer to a tactical or production level, your focus should be near term.
  3. Attack the seams. Even organizations that think effectively through near/mid/long term can execute poorly if they don’t “address the seams” as long term becomes midterm, and midterm, becomes short term. As the thinking transitions time and comes in contact with new people, think through what needs to happen to set up the next group in the transition for success.

These items closely parallel the Einstein quote I’ve shared with you several times…”if I had one hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I’d spend the first 55 minutes thinking about “what is the problem”, and the next 5 minutes solving it because I can solve any problem I can understand.”  My son and I put this to use yesterday in constructing new workbenches in our garage; the time we invested up front in planning made the project execute pretty quickly (and to our amazement it turned out well!).

Start the week with the greatest gift you can give your organization or family…and you as well…the gift of a well thought out plan that exploits time to your advantage.  Don’t be guilty of what many executives that delude themselves as successful do…master the art of being busy as crazy doing nothing of significance.  Make a plan to use your time wisely, ensure your work has an explainable and necessary purpose, and you’ll achieve far more with the same than you thought was possible.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


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Updated: May 18, 2015 — 9:28 am