For many people planning is something of a mystery. They see it as either the role of project managers, or something that gets done once a year at the Strategic Planning sessions. For others it is a way of getting into action or moving away from procrastination – ironically becoming something to do instead of actual action.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Planning can be a dynamic, quick, short-term driver for action. It just needs to be looked at in more simple terms.

I have worked with many companies, teams and individuals in the past who have found themselves stuck. They think about what they are going to do, or work out their strategic aims and try to figure out where to go form there. Often the process becomes so onerous that people put off planning itself. I have tried many different forms of planning in the past, and indeed still use some to great effect. However, one of the simplest, and most effective methods I came up with is called the WDF planning method. It’s simple, quick and effective – what more could you ask for?

Basically, it asks three questions, in Sequence:

  • What do I Want?
  • What will I need to Do?
  • What’s my First step?

Lets look at each of these in more detail.

What do I want?
A great deal of planning fails because it is too tactical: people first work out what they need to do, rather than where they are trying to get to. This can often mean that the tasks you identify have no real flow towards a desired destination, or worse, can lead you somewhere you don’t want to go. So the first step is to ask yourself “What do I want?”. This can be where you want to get to, what you want it to be like.. anything that describes (to you) a future desired state, in whatever level of detail works for you.

What will I need to do?
Once you know where it is you want to be, or what it is you want to have achieved, the second step is to brainstorm ideas about what steps you need to take to get there. In reality, this process can also involve grouping the ideas in to sub-steps, or working out the sequence that things need to be done in, but the most important thing is that you will have a list of things that will take you towards where you want to be.

What do I need to do First?
Once you know where you are going, and you have a list of the things you need to do to get there, it is simply a case of figuring out which one you need to do first. At this stage it may be advisable to ‘chunk’ your tasks into manageable sizes. The main thing is that you look through your list, and pick the one task that is going to get you into motion. It can be small or large, but it should be something you know you can do.

Then, in the words of Nike, ‘Just Do It!’  Brian Tracy’s excellent Eat That Frog, has some very good advice regarding this step – I strongly recommend it. Broadly speaking, you should work out all of the things you need to do in a day, identify the worse thing, and just start it: the rest will look after itself.

Planning can be difficult to get started; it can be complicated and intense, but it doesn’t have to be. By using the WDF method, you will find you are moving towards your goals in no time.

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