Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Time Management Tuesday: Developing A Planning Habit

Last week I wrote about planning to get the most out of small units of time when you're relying on Situational Time Management to help you get things done. Today I'm hitting the bigger picture--why planning is so important to Situational Time Management in the first place.

In The Chicago Tribune article The Blessings of Routine, author Charles Duhigg (whose book The Power of Habit seems like something I should read, doesn't it?) is quoted as saying "The routine is sort of the behavioral aspect of the habit."  "The reason we adopt habits is to help us meet our goals," Judy Hevrdejs, the article's author, writes later.

Our goal as writers is, immediately, to write and, in the long-term, to finish a written project. Work routines and habits can certainly help us to do that. However, they're far easier to form if we actually have a static life situation in which we have the same amounts of time falling on the same days of each week to work with. Those of us who are trying out Situational Time Management to manage our work time don't. Because of day jobs or family responsibilities we can't adhere to a routine because our work time keeps changing.

Without a routine to help us create a work habit, we have to be extremely careful that we don't end up working only when we have nothing else to do. How do we replace routine to make sure that doesn't happen?

What I've been doing is making planning the routine. To make Situational Management work, you have to be constantly thinking ahead, to the next week, to the next month, and beyond. What is your writing time next week? Schedule when you're going to work next week and commit to it. You know that a big work project is coming up for your day job in another month? What kind of writing can you do then? Do you finish the draft this month so you can put it aside for a few weeks and market or study while you have less time next month? Make a plan and commit.

It took me months to get into the planning routine with  the yellow notepad that I described last week. Now, though, toward the end of this week I'll be thinking about what will go onto next week's plan. I may even be making lists for next week before I start formally writing out the plan on Sunday night or Monday morning.

Planning is my routine and my habit. I think  that's how to cope with the situation I find myself in, and it's how to make Situational Time Management work.

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