Most of us know a little bit about planning, because whether we realize it or not, all of us plan at some level and in some ways. Do you fill your gas tank before going on a long trip? Do you invite guests over for a visit? Do you get food on the table for a meal? Whether you think about taking an action a month, a week, or just seconds ahead of time, when you decide you need to do something before you actually do it, that is planning. Many of us, however, may not plan as effectively as we would like. If you're on the end of the continuum closer to "flying by the seat of my pants" but would like to move at least a little closer to "I know exactly what I'm going to do tomorrow, next week, and next year," then you will benefit from learning and applying personal planning strategies.

As mentioned above, when you decide you are going to do something ahead of time, that is planning. The dictionary states that to plan primarily involves 1) a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something; and 2) an intention or decision about what one is going to do.

Everyone plans, in one way or another. Yes, even those seemingly completely disorganized people you know – the ones come to every meeting late with a handful of binders and loose papers, spilling a cup of coffee as they sit down – even they plan. They may not be planning very effectively, but if they get to the meeting with most of the stuff they need, they did some planning to achieve that, (even if it was at the last minute).

The key in the effectiveness of your planning depends on how you do it: when you plan, how often you plan, whether you put your plan in writing, how far in advance you plan, how you prioritize, and more. How you put these factors to use makes up your personal planning style.

Each one of us has our own unique personal planning style. Your style is defined by the planning and preparation you do for yourself not only so you can get more done and get things done more quickly, but to also decrease your stress level, incorporate work tasks and projects into the rest of your life, and have greater satisfaction in all aspects of your life.

You utilize your personal planning style when you plan any given event, task, or project, even when specific planning strategies are mandated for you by your employer, (such as specific work plan forms, working in partnership with others, etc.). You also utilize it in how you pull everything together, coordinate your flow of work, and fulfill your function and role.

What makes your personal planning style unique for you is seen in how you look at and choose to employ the function of planning. You may or may not choose to plan ahead or to do additional planning so you can stay ahead of the game. The people you know who seem to always be on top of things, however, work continuously on developing their personal planning styles. They take charge by design rather than letting circumstances control their actions and reactions.

When you look at others who plan well and seem to be in control more often than not, do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed? Are you wondering how they do it and thinking that you could never achieve that level of effectiveness and productivity? If so, you’re wrong, because you can be just as effective and productive, and you might not need all those forms, calendars, checklists, or other tools many people use. Your challenge is to find what works for you, and that might be completely different that those things that work for someone else.

Author's Bio: 

Donna Birk is a writer, trainer, coach, and Licensed Social Worker. She founded and operates People Builders, "Where Your Growth Is Our Goal." Get a FREE goal setting guide and FREE E-zine at her website: