Listicle: Develop planning skills through persistent practice

Learning how to plan can be a frustrating experience

Instead of forcing yourself into an established scheduling process, find a system that works for you. Photograph: Getty Images

Instead of forcing yourself into an established scheduling process, find a system that works for you. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Learning how to plan – especially if you’re new to organising your time – can be a frustrating experience. But you can develop planning skills through persistent practice.

Here are some key steps for using knowledge of your natural brain strength to build your planning skills.

1. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses: To find out what part of your brain dominates, complete the self-assessment in the book Thriving in Mind, or participate in the more formal Benziger Thinking Styles Assessment. Learning more about your natural thinking style can help you better understand what works best for you.

2. Accept the difficulty: If we expect that a task will be difficult, we may still flounder, but we’ll be more willing to work through any issues, since we’ll understand that challenge is part of the process.

3. Let go of all-or-nothing thinking: Some people think that they must follow their plans perfectly, or their efforts will be wasted. Instead, try to view learning as a process where improvement counts and every day matters.

4. Find systems that work: Instead of forcing yourself into an established scheduling process, find a system that works for you, whether it’s using sticky notes, whiteboards, spreadsheets or apps on your phone. Experiment until you find the right fit.

5. Borrow other people’s brains: If you know people who excel in planning or have good organisational skills, ask for their advice and insight. They may be able to offer solutions to problems that overwhelm you.

6. Keep trying: When you find yourself getting frustrated in the process of planning, have self-compassion when you make mistakes, refocus when you get distracted and adjust your plan when new issues crop up.

Copyright Harvard Business Review 2017