A great downfall of self-employment is that it lends itself to creating a schedule that’s so flexible you struggle to get anything accomplished.
I knew that downfall. All too well.
Then I discovered If/Then Planning.
It can help you reach your goals whether you work in a large organization or an office in your attic or anything in between.
It’s broad enough to apply to any area of your life, simple enough to apply right away and effective enough to lead to results fast.
The Silly Putty Schedule
After living a work schedule dictated by others, minute-by-minute, for twelve years, I reveled the flexibility of my new work life. (Two years in, I still got hungry for lunch at 11:14 on the dot. Every single day.)
- Professional association luncheon at noon? No problem.
- Block out the morning to take mom to a doctor’s appointment? Sure.
- Celebrate the first sunny afternoon in a week with a walk in the woods? Yes, please.
The results of a schedule that was more flexible than a blob of Silly Putty?
Utter lack of organization and productivity.
Enter If/Then Planning
You have goals, stuff you want to be, do, create, experience and have.
You’re smart, so your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-specific.
Setting goals is one thing. Making them happen? Quite another.
I learned about If/Then Planning from Heidi Grant Halvorson, in her tiny but mighty book, 9 Things Successful People Do Differently.
Contrary to my experience in 7th grade algebra, Halvorsen explains that our brains like to encode and remember simple formulas, something she explains is called the language of contingencies.
Here’s where it gets really cool.
When you set up the equation clearly, your subconscious takes over, scanning for X so that you get toward Y – wait for it – without having to think about what to do.
Not having to think about what to do sure as heck never happened to me in algebra class.
If your brain is as scattered as mine, which it likely is, because we both live in an over scheduled, hyper digitized, highly caffeinated world, not having to think about getting stuff done is a fantastic way to, well, get stuff done.
Get Started with If/Then Planning
- Identify an action that will move you closer to your goal.
- Decide when and where you need to take that action.
- Put them together: If X, then Y. (Or “when X, then Y.”)
Here are a few examples:
- If it’s Tuesday morning, then I write and publish my newsletter.
- When Monday afternoon rolls around, then I prep for tomorrow’s staff meeting.
- If it’s 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, then I am in yoga class.
My current If/Then Plan, the one that’s been pivotal in helping me get control of my time and get things done, amid an even crazier than usual schedule and workload:
If I have been awake and out of bed for more than ten minutes on a week day, then I will sit at my desk and review my plan for the day.
No coffee. No Facebook. No email check. Up for 10 minutes equals backside in chair, planning my day. Every day, Monday through Friday.
- Your turn.
- Think about a goal.
- Figure out one action that will move you closer to it.
- Decide when and where to take that action
- Make if your If/Then statement.
Change the world as you boost your productivity in achieving your goals.
In a way that’s way simpler than doing algebra.
image: Pixabay, with permission