5 Tips to Creating Planning Habits that you can stick to!
Starting a new year can come with new goals and habits that can feel motivating and encouraging, however, for some people, these can feel impossible to meet. In order to help with this feeling, we can use effective planning methods to ensure the habits are achievable. This article will focus on 5 tips on how to create planning habits that you can stick to.
Planning our week can be really beneficial to ensure we have the right balance of tasks and are as productive as possible, and to avoid any unnecessary stress which may occur as a result of not planning. It allows us to best decide how to use our resources (people, time, money, information) so that we can make more significant progress towards our goal.
However, it can often feel like an overwhelming task on your to-do list and whilst some people over plan, others have no plan at all. When looking at our wellbeing, we can feel overwhelmed quickly with all the tasks that we need to complete in the day, and end up not knowing where to start, or doing nothing at all.
For this reason, I have set out 5 top tips when it comes to planning your week right based on my experience as a Therapeutic Life Coach. This list takes into account the main causes of feeling overwhelmed with planning, and how to combat these feelings.
Here are the 5 Tips to create a planning habit that you can stick to!
Tip 1: Diary it Out
Before getting started with planning, it is a good idea to look at your week and start to look for any patterns that may be emerging. Are there any consistent tasks that you complete every day? How long do you spend doing the key tasks in your personal and professional life? It may be easier to have a page to a week view so that you can see an overview of all the tasks that you need to complete within the week.
Take a look at what you have planned and whether it needs to be there. Ask yourself what is the purpose of this task? Is it a necessary task or a ‘space filler’?
What fills your time? Now you’ve looked at what you have planned in what happened in the gaps. Social media is a big one for a lot of people. But a lot of people don’t know you can check your phone to see how long you spend on social media. Check out Facebook settings and your time on Facebook. This can be an eye opener for many of my clients (and me!) Facebook allows you many tasks to manage this such as activity logs, adding ways to manage your time (such as quiet mode and time reminders). Instagram also has these insights go to ‘Settings’ ‘Account’ and ‘Your Activity.’
From this, you will be able to narrow down your tasks and fillers: allocating specific time within your schedule to complete your tasks and look at reducing some filler activities.
If you are unsure of how long tasks may take you can use time-tracking apps such as ‘Toggl’ to calculate the time you should set aside for the task.
Tip 2: Notice your thoughts around planning
Are you somebody who needs to have everything planned out? How do you manage when something needs to be changed, runs over or doesn’t fit within the plan created? Does this make you feel overwhelmed or flustered? It’s important to start noticing our thoughts around planning so that we can understand our planning process.
Our thoughts shape our behaviour so by focusing on our thoughts we can start to identify any unhealthy thoughts that may be presenting. Unhealthy thoughts can become internalised into your core beliefs, and it’s important to recognise these thoughts and recognise that it is possible to change these. The self-awareness of identifying and accepting these thoughts will allow you to take an active role in the process of positive behaviour change.
If you aren’t able to recognise these thoughts, they can become a core belief in your mind and you may feel unable to take on new tasks or habits without these negative thoughts and feelings attached.
A quick exercise to help. For each task/ filler start to notice the thoughts
Planning task…… Thought…..feelings…..behaviour.
Are you planning unrealistic tasks for time available. Are you thinking you HAVE or SHOULD do things. Are you planning too far in the future. Are you adaptable and flexible with your plans?
Tip 3: Have non-negotiable tasks
Having habits or tasks that you complete every single day, week, or month that are non-negotiable can be really beneficial in helping these habits stick. These are things that you will always make time for, no matter what comes up at work or in your personal life.
An example of this is having daily tasks such as; eating well, taking a break, spending time with family members and going to bed on time. So you might choose drinking at least 2l of water. It needs to be a task that is doable Every. single. Day.
Whereas other habits may occur on a weekly basis such as; exercise and a weekly meeting. So you might decide that you will exercise 3 x per week and on specific days.
Lastly, monthly tasks could include business tasks such as budgets, expenses or reports which are routine tasks.
These are consistent tasks that we know we have to complete, and have completed in the past, which can help with the motivation and finding time to follow through with the tasks. This is often about setting boundaries for yourself and others so that you are able to prioritise getting things done so that you can achieve the most in your professional and personal life.
This approach has been a game changer for me since coming online with my business and having the capacity for people to book into my calendar. In the beginning my calendar was ‘as is’ which meant that people could book whenever there was a gap. This meant sometimes it wasn’t the best time for me and meant I was less productive in the ‘gaps’ I had. I now ‘book out’ time for tasks such as admin and business planning to ensure it gets done. This was what I used to do when in full control and is a massive game changer to getting tasks done.
Tip 4: Habit stack/Diary tasks
If you have any new habits that you wish to work on, there are two main ways of implementation. You can habit stack them, meaning to put the new habit in between existing ones that you complete automatically, or you can diary them into your week.
The idea is to introduce a new habit with something that you are already doing to help remind you to complete the task and build this into your everyday routine. For example, you could introduce exercising to your morning routine by doing 10 Jumping Jacks after you eat breakfast, or squatting whilst cleaning your teeth 😊.
The idea on habit stacking is that many habits we have become automatic because we have built strong connections between the synapses in the brain (you don’t think about getting dressed or the order you put clothes on). By stacking next to other existing habits it forms a cue which a new habit and means we become triggered into remembering to complete the new task when we do the existing.
The next part of this tip is to plan them into your week much like you would a meeting. I know many of us who have service led businesses are very good at planning time in for face to face meetings, but less good at planning in the admin that goes with it. By time blocking specific tasks to the same time each week, it is much easier to complete the tasks.
Tip 5: Review your plan
Sometimes life doesn’t go to plan, and you will need to plan for things not to. Many of us over-estimate what may be achievable at any given time, and it may be that you need to change plans accordingly. It is a good idea to think of planning more as a roadmap, and plan in time that is used to catch up if the plan doesn’t go the way you imagined.
You can also schedule in ‘dead time’ which can be used to practice self-care techniques such as breathing, mindfulness, or journaling that can help calm the mind. Creating a balance in your routine and schedules.
Remember, that we are all human and sometimes it may take longer to achieve the tasks than planned. It is okay to not be able to achieve everything you set out to do and adapt your future plans to account for this.
Also, life likes to throw a curveball or two. Most of us have had this with COVID, caring for children or relatives, caring for ourselves, emergency tasks that take precedent. The key with any planning is to look at how we can adapt and be flexible when plans change. Sticking to the same plan regardless and having a fixed mindset can mean that we get stuck.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Question 1: What is the importance of planning your activities?
It is important to plan activities, habits and tasks into your day to help you prepare and manage your time to avoid high levels of stress or anxiety. Planning your schedule will give you a better idea of if you are staying on schedule, and whether or not you will be able to add more tasks into your week. It will also allow you to prioritise tasks depending on how necessary they are, so that you have enough time to complete all your non-negotiable tasks.
Question 2: What are some examples of daily habits we can plan?
There are many habits that you can complete every day including but not limited to:
- Go on a walk
- Go to bed at the same time every evening
- Nourish your body with food and water
- Spending time with loved ones
- Wake up at the same time every morning
Question 3: What are some examples of weekly habits we can plan?
Weekly habits are routine tasks that you complete on a weekly basis, for example:
- Go Grocery Shopping
- Meal Prep
- Plan and Schedule your next week
- Plan your meals
- Review Budget
- Self-Care Hour
Question 4: What are some examples of monthly habits we can plan?
Monthly tasks are often tasks that only need to be done occasionally, however are still just as important. Some examples of these could include:
- Deep Clean House
- Pay Bills
- Review Finances
To find out more about how to create planning habits that you can stick to, book a quick and free consultation with me, a life coach and therapist, and together we can work through an action plan to help you plan your habits.