How to Plan Like a Pro

(aka) My 3 Tips to Mastering Time Management

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All month long we’ve talked about time management – how determining if something is urgent vs. important can affect your time management. We talked about why you should love time management and we even got some time management tips from Gabrielle McBay, our April Black Girl with Purpose.

These are all great but I consider them the appetizers for today’s main entree because let’s face it. If you’ve read the posts from these past few weeks you probably thought to yourself “this is great but HOW DO I ACTUALLY MANAGE MY TIME BRIE?!” Not to worry. That’s our focus for this week.

As I’ve shared in previous posts, I’m a major planner (sometimes excessively so) and there are 3 things that I’ve found to be helpful for planning and executing. As I go about preparing for each week I:

  1. Identify my priorities
  2. Schedule my tasks
  3. Eliminate distractions

Identify Priorities (20 minutes)

SPOILER ALERT: Your priorities are unique to you so be honest as you identify them. What would accomplishing these things bring about? What are the consequences if you don’t accomplish them? Asking those questions will help you decide what your main focus is each week and keep you on task.

Schedule Tasks (60 minutes)

Now that you’ve identified your priorities, it’s time to actually plan for the items on your to do list. My business mentor says “if it isn’t scheduled it isn’t real” so I like to spend about an hour every Sunday scheduling out each of my tasks. Seeing them in a particular time slot makes me feel like I’m going into the week prepared.

To borrow a Dave Ramsey finance principle, I’m telling my time where to go instead of wondering where it went.

Tell your time where to go instead of wondering where it went.

Eliminate Distractions (10 minutes)

This can be the trickiest element but it’s also the most important. Why? Because identifying priorities and scheduling your task list doesn’t matter if you don’t give yourself the space to actually perform it! The best part about it is if you’re diligent about eliminating distractions you’ll easily add 120 minutes back into your day. Go ahead, time it!

Last week during a Black Girls with Purpose Mastermind training, I shared that we all know our particular vices. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, email or text – we know the culprit for limiting our progress (it goes back to that urgent vs. important list). So why not set yourself up for success by cutting those things off at the pass?

I love to turn my phone on Airplane mode and during weeks where I feel like checking my email has been particularly excessive I’ll actually schedule time to check – 10a, 2p and 6p. This allows me to get my work day started, check in midday to see if there’s anything important that I’ve missed and review one more time at the end of the day for things I’ll plan to add to the next morning’s to do list.

So What’s Next?

Utilizing these three tools has completely changed my time management and helps me go to sleep (most days) with the peace that I handled my work load appropriately. What’s more, planning this way makes me feel like I’m doing my best to live out Ephesians 5:15 – “Now be careful how you live, not as unwise but as wise. Making the most of the time because the days are evil.”

You can easily put these same disciplines into practice:

  • Spend about 20 minutes identifying your priorities
  • Spend an hour planning out your tasks
  • And eliminating distractions should take no more than 10 minutes!

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About Brie Daniels

Author of The Black Girl’s Guide to Living on Purpose and Executive Director of Black Girls with Purpose.