A solid action plan is a good foundation for a productive life. Making a list of tasks is an excellent way to keep track of what you have done so far, and what is left. If you don’t make action plans regularly or you just want to improve this guide is here to help. The goal of this article is to offer easy to use steps to come up with a bullet-proof action plan or help you develop a more efficient way of doing one.
Action plans are awesome. Since the day I started implementing them into my own life I started to feel their power. To simply put it I was able to do more every day. Later on, I tried to improve the way I make these action plans and checked the results. It wasn’t only about how much I achieved every day, but the way I felt during the execution of my plan. You’ll be surprised how little changes can adjust the way you think about your tasks. First of all, let’s talk about why you should make an action plan.
Why make an action plan?
An action plan is a great tool to collect and schedule all the necessary steps you’ll have to take. Here at Goals Infinite we believe, that it is essential to have a good plan as it is what separates dreams from goals. Create plans and execute them regularly and you will be unstoppable.
The difference between a To Do list and an action plan
On a To Do list, you collect tasks under each other and cross one out when you are don with it. An action plan, however, answer the questions, Who, What, How, Why and When. It is a lot more detailed than a To Do list. If you think all those extra bits of information are unnecessary (like the Who? when you are writing an action plan for yourself only) feel free to skip them. A To Do list is still better than no plan at all, but an action plan is superior when it comes to details.
— Goals Infinite (@GoalsInfinite) 19 August 2016
Making a bullet-proof action plan
Having a plan is great, but often it is no more than a piece of paper with some chores one it. At least it feels like chores. It can be really demotivational to see a long list of undetailed bullet points that you HAVE to do. Here I collected some easy to use guidelines that you can follow when creating an action plan, to make it is more actionable, user-friendly and to make you more productive overall.
Keep your list short
One of the most demotivating things is when you look at a list of tasks and it is 6 pages long. I can already feel the positive attitude fading away just by thinking about it. First of all, you don’t need to cram every item for the next two months into a list. We all have 24 hours a day, so we can only achieve limited amount. Second, if the list still grows long only with your daily tasks make separate lists. Here’s an example: make a list for the morning, for the afternoon and for the evening. You can separate your tasks by locations as well: office, plant, home. Now you don’t have to deal with a huge list at a time.
Keep your tasks short
No one wants to see tasks, that are 2-3 lines long. Keep it short, I recommend 5-10 words each. If you feel the need to add extra detail, consider using the next trick.
Break down complex tasks into smaller ones
This is my number one productivity trick that I use all the time. It makes everything look easy and more doable. I already wrote an article on this, for more information read this.
Make your tasks actionable
Every task you put on the list must have a verb in it. Instead of “Report”, write “Do the report for the Johnstone case”. I found it to be the most efficient to put the verb as the first word. This makes every step an action that you can imagine instead of just being a boring bullet point.
Categorise your tasks
Batch processing is what you want to achieve with this. If you have to write 10 emails during the day, do all of them in one sitting. If you have to make 10 phone calls do them after each other. This is a more efficient way to deal with small but similar tasks.
Schedule your tasks
Estimate the required amount of time for each task, put them in order and set a deadline for each of them. According to Parkinson’s law, a deadline increases productivity, especially when it is near. The only reason, why you should update your deadlines is when something unexpected comes up.
An action plan is a powerful tool, that every high achiever should implement into their daily lives. I hope these guidelines will help you to make an actionable and efficient plan that you can use at work or for your personal goals.
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About the authorGabor Hosszu is the founder and head article writer of Goals Infinite. Being passionate about personal development and helping others were the main reasons he launched this site. By trade Gabor is a mechanical engineer. His hobbies include being a chilli farmer, a video game nerd and a wannabe beer expert.