What Does Intentional Planning Mean And How To Do It

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Let’s be honest, no matter how much or little you have on your plate, planning is a guaranteed way that you get it all done efficiently and to the best of your ability. Especially if you are working from home, it can be hard to stay motivated and focused without a detailed step by step plan (more on that here). Most of us keep the mental calendar of big events but it takes intentionality to sit down and plan out all the small to-dos and give yourself room for the unexpected occurrences that are also bound to happen. 

Whether a week, month or just a few days ahead; it is extremely beneficial to have a time scheduled with yourself to sit down and pull out your planner and write down specifics for the upcoming events whether it be for work, family, friends, etc. Not only will this ensure that you are present for each event, but you will also be stress free and save a lot of mental energy that we all get from ‘decision fatigue’.

It is going to take a lot more intentionality at first to make yourself sit down and think through everything but will become second nature as you make it a habit. 

Before you start here are a few things to consider: 

  • You’re going to need to set aside a good 30 minutes to have a think about what the next few weeks are expected to bring.  Set an intention for your planning period. This could be, asking yourself: am I going to have a busy week? If the answer is yes, think about intentionally building in time in between meetings to give you breathing room. Remember: you're in charge, here. This is also a good time to identify goals and what/how much you would like to incorporate into your week in order to achieve them.

  •  Think about what’s upcoming and what you need to be prepared for it. I like to have both my planner and the family calendar with details of school holidays, children’s clubs etc, in front of me when I do this. If you have a partner, you might also find it helpful to have their calendar close to hand too.  Do you have everything you need for a particular trip your family might be going on? Do you need any extra grocery shopping if you’re having friends to stay? Is it you or your partner, or both of you, who will be attending your child’s sports day or school summer fair and are you expected to bring anything with you (picnic, batch of home-baked cookies, etc?). This is a good time to identify your personal lifestyle and any

Once you get a good feel for what you’re going to be planning out, the next steps have to do with intentionality:

  • Try and think about balance.  We often get very focussed on completing client work, and sometimes neglect the work our own business needs, or to keep up to date with our own learning and development.  Do you need to set aside time for regular website maintenance, or marketing mail outs, or networking events? 

  • Factor in your own energy levels.  Working late three evenings a week, going to the gym for an hour every day, and then a ten mile bike ride with the family at the weekend might look good in your diary planner, but is it really feasible or sustainable? Schedule in non-negotiable time that’s spent on activities that nourish and recharge you. For example, as I put my kids to sleep (I sit in their room for about 30 min until they fall asleep) I listen to a 10-minute guided meditation. This allows me to prepare myself for the second part of my evening and sometimes, I get a boost of creativity! 

  • Think about the wider draws on your time. In my experience Christmas and late summer tend to be the busiest times for school and social events at which parents are expected to attend. If your partner is a big sports fan or has a particular hobby which takes them away from home, do you need to schedule around that? Be realistic with yourself on all activities or your overall scheduling will not stick for long. 

Now create an inventory of both the things which take up chunks of your time and the things for which you wish had more time.  This will help you identify what is important to you. Your list might include some of the following: 

  • Family time

  • Gym or other fitness time

  • Time alone with your partner

  • Professional development time - e.g. catching up with industry news or taking a course online

  • Hobbies

  • Shopping, cooking, home-making time

  • Time with friends

  • Preparation time for client meetings / kids activities 

  • Rest and recharge time

You should now have a good idea of both what needs scheduling, and how much time you can reasonably allocate.  

  • I tend to work on a monthly basis so at the beginning of the month I might sit down with my Ponderlily planner

  • Block out the time that I know I’m not going to be available e.g. school events/weekends when I want to spend time with my family/specific time set aside for my own interests. 

  • Add in the dull but important things, e.g. gym/grocery shopping/catching up with my industry news and reading. 

  • Now I can see exactly how much time I reasonably have left over to schedule in client work and my own business development. 

It sounds very complicated but, trust me, once you start planning smarter, you won’t look back! Want to have a read at how I plan my week?

And finally, don’t forget to schedule time for your own rest and relaxation!

If you need some extra help getting organized and empowered to be productive, check out our productivity quiz! We have developed some questions to get to know you a bit better and recommend the best plan of action for your productivity! Check it out here!

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