Smart Planning For That Super Busy Life

Because timeliness is everything.

Life gets hectic from time to time. Right now I’m writing this post while my car is in the bay at Firestone. I’ve had a sensor out for about 3 weeks, and needed to carve out some time to get it checked out. After this, I need to stop back by my flat, grab lunch and walk my neighbour’s dog, quickly before heading over to a collision repair shop. Hey, you can get paid for just about anything in this hustle environment. And getting paid to get my daily minimum steps in at the same time? I’ll combine health and hustle.

Combining tasks is what Smart Planning is all about. Say you have to take your kid to a soccer practise and you also need to stop by the store and get some milk. If the store is on the way home, it’s brilliant. but how often does that work out?


That’s where Smart Planning comes in.

I recently learnt about Smart Planning from some random organiser webinar someone was watching in the library. I don’t recall why it caught my attention, but when it did, the lady was talking about organising a very busy schedule. Surreptitiously, I started taking notes. 

Keep in mind, I do not know who presented this webinar. I wish I did as it struck a chord with me. I’m always looking for ways to optimise my time, especially on crazy days when I’ve got a million unrelated tasks that really should be done. Things like car maintenance.

Smart Planning is like filling a jar.

Planners that add stickers and decoration first are doing it wrong.

Fill it with bigger stuff first, then the smaller things can be shaken into the cracks that are left. Bigger things, in this case are appointments and meetings, the smaller things are tasks and errands.

So, when you fill in your week, put your appointments down first. Then, write out the to do list, making sure the to-dos get you a little further ahead in projects in both work and personal spaces.

The idea is that you’d put in all of your appointments first, then layout your to do list. While looking at your to do list, you’d fill in the errands, calls, and emails. The key is to put them into a planner where you can block out and schedule time to do each of the things that need a dedicated time. From there, you’d figure out places where you can add in the smaller tasks and errands.

So, back to taking your kid to the soccer practise. It’s practise, not a game, so you can leave during it to get milk from the shop while the kids are kicking balls around. And, with the left over time, you could probably get in a few phone calls and other things you can do off to the side.

The lady recommended filling your schedule by the day. I nixed that idea immediately, as I like to look at the week, which breaks down into an hourly day. Think of any day planner that has “hourly layouts” and you pretty much have the way I operate. (I currently use an Erin Condren hourly layout planner, but next year I’ll be using a Plum Paper custom.)

I already did this subconsciously, but consciously makes it better.

Not forgetting a thing? aHAHA. Not there yet.

I’ve been an efficiency and productivity nut for decades. While I was still in the military, I used to try to do as many things as possible “along the way” from one place to another. Had to travel from one side of the base to the other? Needed to get some deodorant from the commissary? Grab it on the way.

The problem with my old approach is that I didn’t think consciously about all my errands or tasks. Just the things that popped up. My entire week was chaotic because I didn’t plan ahead for the next trip to the commissary for toothpaste which would inevitably run out later that week. I also had no idea how long each thing took. Those side trips could take way more time than I’d intend, and I’d have no idea. I would just be running frantically from place to place as I pretended to be “efficient” and “productive” instead of just stressed.

After working with this method for just a month, I’ve been more conscious of how much time extra errands take. I’m also aware of how long it takes me to run to the corner store to get some deodorant and toothpaste. I’m also making calls in “found time” while driving to and from appointments, and giving my all to the world.

How can you see yourself implementing this method? What ways have you saved time and made your life more productive?