If you google Famous Planning Quotes you’ll find nearly 70 million results.  Everything from Antoine de St Exupéry’s ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’ to Eisenhower’s ‘In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is essential’.

No matter the scale of a project, the heart of a plan isn’t complicated.  Making a plan is just listing each step you need to take to achieve your goal and the kit and people you need for the steps.  Here are our five essentials for making a plan that works.

Clarity.  It’s very hard to make a plan if you haven’t worked out exactly what your goal is. Ask yourself what you want to do, what you must do and what you can do.  Write down the answers to the first two.  If some of them end up competing for the ‘can do’ space don’t kid yourself that it’ll all work out in the end.  Prioritise and compromise at the beginning because it’s so much easier to add something in at the end than realise you’re not going to achieve your number one priority because you’ve tried to fit in too much.

Simplicity. A hundred small, simple, methodical steps are much more likely to succeed than ten huge, complicated, messy steps.

People.  The fewer involved and the more they understand what they’re doing the better. Tell them exactly what you want, why you want it and when.   Then trust them to get on with it.

Flexibility.  All those famous quotes about no plan ever playing out exactly as it’s written are true. There’s always someone who doesn’t turn up on the right day or an emergency visit to the vet for the dog or even a fabulous invitation that you’d be crazy to turn down.  Build in time and space to tweak your goals.

The right tools.  Depending on which research you look at, humans process images hundreds or thousands of times more quickly than words.   You don’t need complicated apps or even Excel to make a programme and don’t use a diary. Colour-coding and lines on a simple wall chart will tell you what you need to know instantly.

And that’s it except for one last thing.  If you’re tackling something you’ve never done before, talk through your plan with someone who has done it before … before you’re in the thick of it and not when you’re stuck.  Of course, if you’re planning how to sort through all your possessions when you’re downsizing, you can’t talk to anyone better than Good Sorts!