As project management types, many of us are so busy helping others with their planning and project activities that we forget to take time to do our own planning. I liken us to the plumber with the leaky faucet. Whether it’s planning the next step in your career or planning the next quarter, we need to take time to plan out our roadmap. We must be prepared to take our own medicine. It’s good for us, after all.

I’m taking my own medicine and beginning my process of planning the next year. Starting in quarterly chunks of planning. This helps to figure out what I can get accomplished. I always have more ideas than I possibly have capacity to complete. There are so many new projects I want to explore, new ways to deliver value, things I want to try.

Are you like me with a to do list that never quite gets to empty?

As I prepared for some time out of the office, I kept working furiously to get things knocked off my list. I got A LOT done, but as I worked, I found more things that I wanted to add to my list! It’s crazy, I know. The list just gets longer no matter how many things I check off! I have projects coming out of my ears and I know that I won’t be able to get them all done.

It’s healthy (at least I think so) to keep that list of ideas coming in, things you want to accomplish, goals that you are setting out for yourself. The creative energy is good for us. And it’s important to jot down the ideas we have when we have them instead of discarding the idea or possible new project.

So what do I do? I prioritize!

I am always looking at the order things need to be done in. What’s urgent? What’s important?

Urgent vs. important

It’s crucial to find the balance between urgent and important. So often, we spend so much time on the urgent that we never get to the important. For example, you have urgent client needs that must be addressed, but once you’ve taken care of all the needs of your clients, you have no time left for the important things like planning for the future.

As a business owner, I like to remember something my coach always says, “You cannot only work in the business. You must work on the business if you are going to be successful in the long term.”

The same applies to you, whether you run a division, a company or a project. We must make time to work “on the business” we are managing, as well as in it. This means taking time to step back, figure out where we are going and what big things we want to accomplish, then plan out our roadmap for getting there.

This takes planning for the future. Yeah, we gotta actually do some planning.

Take a few minutes to think about your big goals for the next year. What will bring you the most happiness? What will give you the greatest sense of accomplishment? How can you drive high-IMPACT?

Then, put a plan together and manage your big goals like you would any other project. Yes, this means actually writing it down. It’s only a dream until you make it a plan. Once you make it a plan, we know how to handle and execute a plan, right?

OK, now go Get. It. Done!

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