Action plans are set up for a specific project or multi-tasked activity, and detail all the steps or tasks necessary to complete the project. They are great for getting organised and saving time.
For goal setting, if you’ve used the SMARTer goal template, the start of your plan of action will be detailed under the “A” column of the template.
This may be detailed enough, but if it isn’t, it’s worth taking the time to fully develop your Action items by expanding on these Action Items, so that you have a truly actionable plan to achieve your goals.
When preparing action plans, include as much detail as necessary for you to be able to complete th actions - including the “What”, “When”, “Where”, “Why”, “How” and “Who”.
When you are finished, ask yourself the question: “If these Action Items were my only set of instructions to achieve this goal or task, would I be able to achieve it?”. If so, then you’ve done well. If not, then fill in the gaps!
Preparing action plans is about looking at your end target and working out all the steps necessary to get there. Sometime you need to work backwards to develop your action plan – for example, to get a particular job you may need to do a certain course. To do that course, you may need to achieve certain pre-requisites, and to achieve those pre-requisites, you may need to do something else – and so on.
But also remember that action plans need to be flexible and able to be adjusted as things change – initially though, you need to have a general idea of where you are going - as long as you can flesh out the detail along the way.
To Do Lists
A ‘To Do’ list is simply that – a list of things you need to do.
It can be very broad like “Go grocery shopping” or very detailed – for example, detailing all the things you need to buy and which shops you need to go to. The important things to remember are:
- Make task descriptions as detailed as necessary for you to achieve them – include contact details, step-by-step instructions, resources needed, etc.
- Prioritise the items as High | Medium | Low priority (or number them in order of priority, with one being the highest).
- Do the High priority items first (or do them in order, starting from number 1)
- Only add the items that you can do in the timeframe – it may only be part of a task. Add the other items onto a Grass-Catcher List or into your Weekly | Monthly Planner if you’re using one.
- Any items you don’t get done get put on the top of the To Do List.
- Tick off items once they are complete.
What's a Grass-catcher list?
Also called a 'car-park' it is intended to catch any stray actions and thoughts that you come across from time to time, but don’t necessarily have a scheduled time in place. They maybe other ‘goals’ that you think you’d like to achieve at some stage or just practical things you need to do, or just things you need to do.
The point of this list is simply to capture these thoughts so they don’t slip through the cracks of your hectic life.
It’s also useful to carry a small note book and pen with you at all times – including on your bedside table at night – you never know when you’re going to come up with a brilliant idea or thought and you need to capture it!
There are several useful templates in the ToolBOX [under the FREE Life Planning Workbook] including a Grass-Catcher List and Action Plans template.