We know we preach a lot about planning and staying on task, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and that’s okay! Planning can be hard for everyone, and if it doesn’t come to you naturally there are still some things you can do to make the process a bit easier for yourself…
First things first, you don’t have to be ‘smart’ to be able to effectively plan. In fact, a lot of creative people who process their thoughts visually can have a difficult time translating these visual thoughts into actions such as organising their time. Or on the other hand, you may do an amazing job at recognising and executing your important tasks, but can find it difficult to keep on track with other tasks when there’s less time pressure.
Here are some key steps, inspired by Harvard Business Review, to build resilience with planning:
Find systems that work for you:
Instead of forcing yourself into a strict planning routine, find a system that works for you. For example, if you tend to work better with visual aids (such as images, diagrams, mind maps etc), try to find a way to plan to this strength. For example, if you prefer visual stimulation to get you motivated to start planning you could plan using a bullet journal. You have the creative freedom to draw and create visual cues all around your planner!
Or, if you like to see time as a flow and a rhythm, use to-do lists that allow you to adapt and adjust your time as needed, instead of feeling boxed into a strict time schedule.
There is no wrong way to plan, that’s the beauty of it! Experiment until you find the right fit.
Let go of your all-or-nothing thinking:
Everyone can fall into the trap of feeling annoyed, upset or angry when you don’t follow your plan perfectly or don’t complete all the items on your to-do-list. Sometimes it can lead to thoughts that your efforts have been wasted, leaving you in a negative mindset.
Instead, it’s important to view the planning process as ‘every improvement counts’. Maybe you’ve only done 1 piece of homework when you planned to complete 3. This is still a positive improvement and you should be proud and happy that you finished that task. This will build your resilience because you won’t beat yourself up as much when you deviate from your plan, and in turn, you’ll find it easier to get back on track if you sway slightly!
One of the definitions of resilience is: ‘the ability to spring back into shape’. When you find yourself getting frustrated in the process of planning, have some self-compassion when you make mistakes, refocus when you get distracted and adjust your plan if issues arise - don’t give up! For example, you may decide to move a project you thought would get done today to the next day. Or you may reach out to a classmate for help on getting a group project completed.
Encourage yourself to work through distractions, frustrations and procrastination - but remember to never beat yourself up over it! When you convince yourself that you can change and define your reasons for wanting to plan, you’ll have a much higher chance of being resilient in the process of improving your planning.