Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco

Naked Planning

Does the thought of planning fill you with dread?  When you do force yourself to plan, do you realize at the end of the day that you never actually looked at your list? If so, it could be time to step out from behind all of the project management software, moleskine notebooks, and to-do list tools that have kept your daily activities hidden and participate in some naked planning.What do I mean by naked planning?

Basically inviting another person into the process of planning your days and keeping you accountable to what you say you’re going to do.Why? The most successful people I know acknowledge what’s hard for them and then put the right support in place to help them achieve their goals. By baring your planning to someone else, you can get over your embarrassment and frustration about what you’re doing (or not doing) and get the right things done.Here are three keys to doing this effectively:

Create Safety

You want to find someone who is extremely reliable, but not judgmental to help you invest your time more effectively. For paired planning to work, you need to know that this person will consistently be there for you and that you can be completely honest with him or her without fear of criticism. This could look like talking to your significant other, business partner, or co-worker. But for the sake of safety and neutrality, you may find it better to enlist a person outside of your inner circle like a mentor, coach, or friend.

By baring your planning to someone else, you can get over your embarrassment and frustration.

Create Transparency

Even with someone else involved in your planning process, you will still need all of your time management tools. But instead of hiding behind them, you will use them to create total openness about the reality of your situation. Make it a personal goal to update your to-do lists and calendar before talking with your planning partner. And if appropriate, you may want to even give the other person online access to your documents.

Precision plays an essential role in this process. While you are talking with your planning partner, you must clearly define what action steps you want to take, what deliverables you hope to produce, when you will do the activities, and how long you estimate they will take you. You may already know these details and simply be stating them to your planning partner, or you may use your joint planning time to help you through this process.

Either way, by the end of the conversation, you should both have absolute clarity on what you intend to do. In the end, you may find that you don’t have time to do everything you wanted to do. That’s good. It’s better to have realistic expectations and to clarify your priorities during the planning stage than to try to forge ahead with expectations of accomplishing the impossible.

By the end of the conversation, you should both have absolute clarity on what you intend to do.

Create Accountability

You and your planning partner should both keep a written record of what you agreed to do. That way when you connect over phone, skype, or in person, you can accurately measure your actual versus intended progress and make adjustments accordingly. Some people find that it works best to connect in this way on a weekly basis while others need a daily connection time.

You can choose what works best for you and your planning partner to do consistently. The frequency is less important than the fact that you know—without a doubt—that you will need to report back on your results. If you prefer writing over talking, this sort of collaboration could also happen through email, text, a shared document, or a project management system.
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Creating the right kind of accountability plays a huge role in your productivity. By enlisting someone else to keep you honest, you can reduce your resistance to the process and dramatically increase your output. 

Remember: You don’t have to work alone. It just might be time to expose yourself.

What’s Your Approach?

Do you have other people help you in making regular planning a habit?What has helped you to put this accountability system in place?

More insights on: Motivation, Task Management

Elizabeth Grace Saunders

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Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Training and author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress. Find out how you can accomplish more with peace and confidence at www.ScheduleMakeover.com.
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