The Planning Strategy of Successful Leaders
There is a key strategy that successful leaders use in planning their week’s goals.
It has nothing to do with their company’s mission, financials, or travel itinerary.
This one strategy helps keep them focused, balanced, and refreshed in their pursuits.
Effective leaders make sure they plan their personal goals first.
When planning their week, the most successful people will always carve out time for their personal goals. They know that in the crunch of today’s expectations of their roles, if they don’t “schedule time with themselves”, they will squelch their ability to learn, grow, and be fulfilled in their life’s pursuits.
Successful leaders know they need to schedule their personal goals into their work week in order to achieve a harmony and balance in their life. They “take the time to make the time” and find the opportunity to:
- Unwind and recharge
- Enjoy their family and friends
While this key strategy seems simple, there are some layers of complexity to it. There is always those non-negotiable appointments or standing meetings that trump their schedule and take priority. There is also the demands of last-minute urgencies that derail even the best of plans. And there is also the pitfall of mental and physical fatigue or the feeling that something else more important needs to be done.
The best ways around these challenges are as follows:
- Work around the non-negotiable demands of your time. You can do this by taking your schedule, seeing what is planned, and not scheduling anything else until you map time for your goals. An even more pro-active approach is to regularly schedule time weekly for yourself – I carve the last 2 hours of each Friday for clean-up, planning next week, and doing a weekly plus-minus of the past few days.
- Flex your schedule to benefit YOU. You also need to determine what work activities can be flexed or moved to create a better window of time for you to engage in self-development. For instance, if the early morning hours involve 8:00am meetings and it’s critical for you to spend that time planning or preparing, you can either flex that time and plan earlier, or move the meeting later to allow for planning if that 8:00am window is best for you. This goes for evening and weekend items also that may not even be conflicted by work but by other personal appointments. The goal here is to set your time up to work best for you first and foremost.
- Discern what urgencies should usurp your time, if any. Urgencies many times are the result of someone else’s priority colliding with your priorities. While legitimate urgencies occur in work and home, you will need to take a quick moment to pause and discern if the situation warrants disrupting your time. The goal here is to address what is important, and to establish needed boundaries to ensure others respect your time. Needs of customers and opportunities to serve will many times rise above our own needs, but if we’re not careful we can allow others to disregard what is important to us and dictate our agendas. Take each situation on it’s own merits and ensure you are making the best choice for everyone involved.
- Don’t let weariness derail your goals. A running joke with my wife is when I read late at night and fall asleep moments after opening the book. She laughs as I wake later and try to plow through another paragraph only to fall asleep again, saying that I’m too stubborn to forego my reading and just go to sleep. While I am determined to make my reading a priority each day, I am not willing to let fatigue beat me.
- Find your balance point. In my example above on my reading, my challenge is to strike that balance between rest and reading in order to achieve my goals. That’s why my end of week plus-minus review helps me to find what has worked and where I need improvement. Balance is key to making your schedule time work for you, including above steps such as flexing our time to better benefit ourselves.
The main point is this – schedule time with yourself to achieve your goals. Find those “white spaces” in your schedule and dedicate those times for yourself. Find the balance, and adjust to make sure you don’t neglect your work, but don’t neglect yourself either.
What strategies do you use to be successful in planning YOUR goals? Share them in the comments below!