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Improve Your Life with Long Range Planning

Updated on June 12, 2011

Any time of year is a great time to improve your life with a little long range planning. Have you been guilty of simply plodding along with your daily life, tackling tasks and crises along the way without really taking time to think of where you’d like to be in five, ten, twenty years? I have. This year I’ve made a commitment to myself to ‘plan to plan’. That is, I’m dedicated to spending more time thinking about, and planning for, the Big Picture. Here are a few tips I’m gathering along the way.

But first…

Why waste my time on planning when I could be doing?

For me, looking that far into the future makes me nervous. It just looks fuzzy and really, really far away. But it’s real, or it will be soon. Think about what you were doing ten years ago. Was it a whole other life?  

For most people the answer is yes. And yet, here you are in the life created by all those choices along the way. And in ten years you’ll be somewhere completely different. Doesn’t it merit a few minutes of your time to ponder what that might be? I believe we can accomplish anything we want, but the really good things usually take a really long time. So start planning now!

Here are my favorite resources:

David Allen’s GTD

Getting Things Done by David Allen is an amazing resource for nerdy, organized types like me. It might be a little overwhelming to some people, but if you’re the type to sit down and read a book about organization cover to cover – and I admit I am that kind of girl – then you will love this book.

Allen makes the point that while it’s wonderful to make and achieve goals, it’s much more important to look at your life from what he calls a ‘50,000 foot view’. He says it’s the only way we can be sure the goals we’re setting are serving our true desires – those big dreams, your purpose in life, or whatever you choose to call it.

Note: I use online service to manage my lists. It gives me the option to make big goals, and then prioritize and link various smaller projects and the tasks that go with them to the big goals. I know, I’m a nerd. If you are too you might like this site. My favorite part is that I can access all my list anytime and anywhere via any computer or iPhone!

Timer and Notebook

Maybe it’s easy for you to whip out a piece of paper and set to work sketching out a ten-year plan. Not me. I have to trick myself into it. I use a timer a lot when I’m working. If I’m working on something fun that I know I could do all day, I’ll time myself in order to maintain some limits. If I need to do something I don’t particularly like, I break it into bits and do ten or fifteen minutes at a time. It’s a trick that helps me.

No one said you have to plan your whole life all at once. Get a timer and a notebook and commit to five or ten minutes a week. You’d be surprised at how much you can think up in that little amount of time. After a few weeks you’ll start to get really excited about the plans you’ve made. Then you can start breaking those down in to steps and pieces.

Zen Habits

If you like things on the simpler side, I highly recommend reading the Zen Habits blog, by Leo Batuta. He dedicates every Monday to Productivity and Organization and he’s a lot more holistic in his approach (Zen, if you will) than the businessy/consultant speaky Allen. This post on his quasi-knockoff ZTD system is a good place to start.

Happy planning – and I hope you’ll share your tips and tricks in the comments

Image Credit: pattaya, Flickr 


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  • Lela Davidson profile image

    Lela Davidson 9 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

    waynet - Glad to hear it. You and me both!

  • waynet profile image

    Wayne Tully 9 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

    Planning is something that we all are guilty of not doing enough of...thanks for the reminder and I think I'll give the timer and notebook idea a try tomorrow!

    Cheers and take care!

  • Lela Davidson profile image

    Lela Davidson 9 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

    Thanks, foodstorage. I totally love FlyLady too! Thanks for the comment. I gotta go shine my sink!

  • foodstorage profile image

    foodstorage 9 years ago from Utah

    I love Getting Things Done and I totally love the timer method for accomplishing things. I learned that trick from which is also a great site for organizing your home life.