MANAGING UNCERTAINTY: THE UNDERESTIMATED POWER OF DAILY PLANNING

In 2007 I started my training in London to become an executive coach and one of the most surprising things I heard from my instructors was “people often underestimate the power of daily planning”. “What do you mean exactly?” I asked. The trainer’s response was “we mean that they could achieve a lot more in their everyday life if they would systematically dedicate some time, even just 10 minutes or less, to plan what they want to accomplish the day after”.

“This is just common sense”, I thought. Funnily enough, the trainers anticipated what I had in my mind. “You might be thinking Kati that this is just common sense, AND you might also know that the problem with common sense is that it is not so common!” The failure is often in the implementation. They were absolutely right!

After 13 years of training and coaching executives, entrepreneurs and companies, I have realized more and more how planning is often something people do on a macro level but not necessarily on a day-to-day basis. I have heard many stories of people telling me how frustrated they felt because they were used to arriving at the end of their day without feeling a sense of accomplishment. They felt like they were wasting their time a lot.

The typical question I ask in this case is “how clear were you on what you wanted to accomplish?”

A common answer was “not so clear”. Or “yes, I was quite clear but then other things came up and I ended up doing other activities instead of what I had planned to do”.

Then I usually ask, “how clear is to you what you should say not to?” Typical answer… “Not necessarily so clear or, better, I don’t always have the energy, willingness or courage to say no…”

Planning is important because it reduces the sense of ambiguity and uncertainty we often have in our life, especially these days. It helps the brain to get the feeling it is in control, and this is something it likes a lot. It does not matter if there are in reality very few things we can actually control in our life. The important thing is that we prepare ourselves mentally to feel that way, as much as we can.

Not to mention the fact that being able to give up control and learn how to navigate the unknown and the uncertain is an important leadership (and life) skill, but this is another blog post for another day.

As a first step, train yourself to get as much certainty as you can, by planning your days, according to what is important to you.

Ideally this action should be taken in the evening, focusing on the following day, but not necessarily. It can be done also in the morning if this work better for you.

 Below are 7 questions to ask yourself to start building the habit of planning your day:

–       What do I want to accomplish tomorrow?

–       What 3-5 actions will I put in place to do so?

–       How much time will be necessary?

–       How realistic is my plan?

–       What do I need to change to make it more feasible?

–       What do I need to say NO to in order to do what I want?

–       How will I feel at the end of the day if I reach my goal?

Now go make it happen!

About the author
Katiuscia Baggio, On-line course creator
15 years of experience as executive education director in a business school
MBA, ICF PCC coach, coach trainer, leadership trainer since 2007.

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