Organisation and planning are skills that usually need to come together in order to achieve a successful outcome. Planning involves thinking about and preparing tasks that need to be done to achieve specific goals. Planning is a tool to manage a project, a job, an activity or a situation that you are going to undertake. It is directly associated with scheduling, time management and organisation. Organisation involves managing the plan and arranging each task in the appropriate order by considering your time constraints and workload. It also includes preparing back-up plans and solving problems. To organise well, you should be able to prioritise tasks, knowing which jobs should be done first and which later.
Apart from being tools to help you to achieve your goals, good planning and organisation can also reduce stress and panic levels because following a plan helps you know where you are in terms of the wider process at any given time. When things are set in advance rather than being dealt with as they come up, it is easier to finish tasks quickly and efficiently because you can stay focused on your performance and on the quality of the work. You are unlikely to find yourself stuck, not knowing where to begin or how to continue. Although unexpected, unplanned problems or obstacles can always come up, it takes less time to address these problems if everything is organised, because there will be fewer problems to begin with.
In contrast, without planning and organisation, you may not have a solid idea of what is necessary and how much time you will need to spend on each small task. If you work with no plan at all, you will not realise which tasks are the most important and which tasks you should begin with. If you do not know exactly when to finish pieces of work, you risk missing deadlines, delaying work or even failure to complete the work. You might end up rushing to meet a close deadline, leading to the production of poor quality work.
You might like to consider the following tips regarding how to organise and plan properly:
- Use planning tools, such as planners, schedules, ‘to do’ lists, action plans, diaries and timetables. You cannot just keep a plan in your head. It is always better to write down your plan in a way that enables you to go back and check on your progress.
- Prepare alternative plans. You should always try to follow the plan you have set. However, the plan can be flexible depending on the situation and the actual workload of each task.
- Break down any large job into small tasks to make it more manageable. If the job is quite sizeable and requires a long time to complete, you should break it down so you can better estimate the time needed for each small task.
- Spare some time for unexpected situations. Since there is always the chance of unexpected problems and obstacles arising, you should allow some time for revision or for solving problems. If your schedule is too tight, you might not be able to manage problems effectively.
Updated 19 May 2023
Emily Finlay, PhD, AE (IPeD)