The Secret to Effective Planning

Today’s guest post is from Philip D. Piercy as
part of the Organized Executive series.
Philip is the Assistant Principal for Academics
at Archbishop Curley High School in
Baltimore, MD and reads The Daily Saint at least a
few times per day. (

There is never enough time to do all that I want to do and
have it done right. This is a sentiment
that I hear repeated quite often by busy executives and administrators. This type of comment led me to consider how I
am able to juggle all of the different responsibilities I have. I thought about all of the literature,
workshops, conferences, and professionals out there who have myriad ways of helping
me get and stay organized. Upon
reflection, however, it is something of my own design that works best for me. I
utilize a 3-pronged preparation plan that doesn’t take long to employ, yet, is
invaluable to me.  Over my next three postings on The Daily
Saint I will share with you each piece of the plan which includes daily,
weekly, and 1-3 week planning
.  I
hope that these simple suggestions will work well for you.

Planning 1-3weeks

Begin by spending a few minutes each week looking ahead 1-3
weeks out. Although I keep a calendar of
events, activities, and meetings that covers several months, in my experience,
to plan tasks and projects in any great detail beyond this point is time wasted. Consider the following steps as you begin


  • Look
    at your calendar
    and/or agenda books. Establish what is fixed (i.e. meeting with the boss) and what may be negotiable. Use this information to help plan benchmarks and deadlines

  • Determine what projects and tasks must be worked on and/or completed in the next 1-3 weeks

  • Break larger projects and tasks into parts; determine benchmarks and/or deadlines for each part

  • Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize…What can wait until week 3? Week 2? What needs to be worked on next week?

  • Create separate lists of tasks for each of the next 3 weeks.

The more you utilize this type of planning the more
comfortable you will feel with it. Soon
it will become second nature and the time spent preparing will decrease. Also, once you have the first three weeks
planned out, each subsequent week will be mostly refining the work you have
already done. The benefits of planning
ahead 1-3 weeks can be enormous and include:

Gaining perspective (“10,000 foot view) instead of just dealing with what is right in front of you

  • Allowing you to deal with relevant and meaningful work based on intentional prioritization

  • Helping you to avoid last minute rush jobs that are more likely to have mistakes and create much more stress for you and your colleagues

  • Giving time to catch mistakes and make revisions before being finalized

  • Allowing you to deal better with unexpected issues that inevitably arise

People will often ask me how I find time to do such preparation. I ask them, how can anyone work effectively without
making the time to do it? You must make
the time; planning your activities, tasks, and projects must become a priority. The time you spend planning will come back to
you tenfold. I am convinced preparing this
way will help you focus, deal with unexpected problems, and, ultimately, save you
time. In the coming weeks as we discuss and
you implement weekly and daily planning you will save even more time and your
productivity and effectiveness will increase as well.

Good luck and God bless! I look forward to sharing more with you next month.


Resources for the Road

Be Cool.  Be Organized.

One Simple Question About Productivity

What Does it Mean to be a "Workplace Saint"?

Keep it Simple: Goal Setting