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Planning Is Overrated. You Should Do This Instead.

Planning Is Overrated. You Should Do This Instead.

Let’s face it; it has happened to all of us at least once. You want to get something done and you begin by planning ad nauseum. If you are among the greater majority you probably won’t finish. Why is this?

Getting stuck in the quagmire of planning is very common. Planning in the traditional sense can be the biggest hindrance to reaching your goals. Extensive planning leads to extensive procrastination. When you spend excessive time researching and gathering resources, the relevance of your idea diminishes as does your motivation with the passage of time.

Don’t worry – there is a solution and it’s a solution that has been implemented since the beginning of life on earth. Using the five steps of what I like to call the “Dynamic Step Algorithm,” can help ensure you will not fall into the black hole of planning.

Envision. Advance. Review. Pivot. Repeat. These are the five steps of the Dynamic Step Algorithm.Think of it as a smarter, flexible, more efficient approach to planning.

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Envision. What do you want to accomplish? What is your goal? These are the first questions you need to ask yourself. A defined goal is an achievable goal

Advance. With the resources in front of you, be it who you know or what you know, take that first step. Not only does every journey begin with that first step, it also provides feedback as to what the next possible steps could and should be.

Review. Now that you have taken your step, review the information provided by the feedback. What further options have been opened to you? What previously predicted options have been rendered moot? Ready, get set… PIVOT.

Pivot. Based on your Review, Pivot to the path that will help you most EFFECTIVELY get to your goal. It might be a slight redirection, or it may be a more substantial shift. Your goal might have even changed based on the feedback from your Advance. Pivoting allows you to reap the benefits of your efforts during Advancing and Reviewing.

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Repeat. Did your goal change? If not, then advance on your pivot, review and further pivot accordingly. If your goal changed, then envision once more and advance again.

The utilization of The Dynamic Step Algorithm can be recognized in many aspects of life. Animals use it to survive in the wild, armies use it in battles, entrepreneurs use it to thrive in business, and parents use it in raising their children.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering: Can I completely trash the concept of planning?

No, of course not. Extensive planning works best in situations where the past is relatively predictive of the future. When it comes to personal survival either in business, in the wild or in parenting, flexibility and agility in decision making are more useful than the rigidity of extensive planning.

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For example:

Going to the grocery store to have meals for the whole week is a relatively predictable, i.e., plannable task. First, figure out what the meals would be: Main dishes, side dishes, desserts, snacks, drinks. Next decide which store you would like go to. Next you arrive at Walrus Mart (great choice, by the way!) to peruse the aisleto fulfill your shopping list. You check out and go home.

However, what if you were dropped in the wilderness, Man vs. Wild style. Or if you get seriously lost on a hike. You certainly wouldn’t be planning the week ahead. You would be taking the necessary steps to survive. You need food. Don’t choose poisonous food. You need water. No, not salt water and not stagnant water. Is nightfall approaching? You need shelter. No, not a bear cave. These are dynamic decisions deserving of the Dynamic Step Algorithm.

Envision.What do you want to do? GET HOME TO CIVILIZATION!

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Advance.What are you going to do about it? You can hear a river, head towards that.

Review.Oh no! There appears to be a hoard of spiders in your path… ehhhh better head around that.

Pivot. Take another route where there are NO hoards of spiders.

Repeat.Success! You made it to the river. Fresh water. So repeat to find food, shelter and a way out of this wilderness.

Strategic use of the Dynamic Step Algorithm helps to alleviate the paralysis of extensive planning in situations where the future is unclear and surviving business, life and parenthood are top priority.Use it whether you want to learn a new skill or embark on a new adventure. Imperfect action, is often much better than planning for perfection.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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