By Debbie DiVirgilio Leadership Bytes

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Are you a planner? We often think of planning for the future in the organization with a mapped out strategic plan that details where we are going, the steps to get there, etc. While, strategic thinking is often not associated with our daily lives, it can make a huge impact in our lives. People often ask me how I manage to get so much done….this is the answer, well at least part of the answer (I will share the other part next week).

Do you plan out your life? How far out do you schedule? If you are like most people, you might sit down at the end of one week or the beginning of the next week and make plans for the following week. After reviewing the calendar and looking at the to-do list, you get to work.

I suggest that by taking the time to review your calendar prior to the beginning of every month, you can accomplish more, have more free time, and reach your goals. A win all the way around!

When we think strategically, we can focus on using our strengths to be more efficient and to develop a clear path toward accomplishment.

How to Begin:

Anyone can begin to think strategically with a few simple steps. Notice that I said the steps are simple, but not that the process is simple. Too many of us are accustomed to spending our time rushing from one crisis to the next. We have a tendency to believe the process of planning and thinking strategically will be very difficult, and it might be…at first.

Step 1: Look at your calendar for the entire month. Are there areas where you would like to have more activity? Plan now to fill those. But, perhaps more importantly, take a minute to see if all the activities listed (your to-dos) align with the goals you want to accomplish. If they do…great, but if not, you may want to look at eliminating them or assigning them to someone else.

Step 2: Do you have any margin in your month? Being busy looks good on paper, but an overflowing calendar can be overwhelming and doesn’t leave you any margin. Margin is the free space that allows you time to take advantage of those perfect opportunities that just pop up. Without margin, you will have to pass on what might propel you to accomplish your goal.

Margin is important to give your brain and body time to rest and rejuvenate. Ever wonder why you get the greatest ideas on vacation? It’s because your brain actually has time to relax and get creative. Who knows what you might accomplish with regular margin built into your schedule?

Step 3: Break down the projects you have for the month into measurable steps. For many people, a visual will be very helpful here. Then, you will have a clear picture of the things you need to do and how all the pieces connect to the big picture. Breaking down the project does several things: it allows you to see the resources needed to accomplish your goals and enables you to be realistic about what it will take to complete the project.

In addition to being more productive, strategic thinking will also help you to be more creative in your problem solving. It is difficult to think creatively about solving problems or accomplishing goals when you have no clue what is on your calendar and how it all fits together with the big picture. Thinking this way also helps you to reduce mistakes because you are less likely to miss something.

Above all, strategic thinking will increase your potential for success, now and in the future. Give it a try!