Planning and the Dangers of Ignorance

Buddhists call ignorance a “poison of the mind.”

Indeed it is, especially when it comes to planning and time management.

How Does Ignorance Poison the Mind?

Progress in the area of personal growth often means seeing things differently than you have in the past. But ignorance keeps you trapped within the boundaries of what you already know.

And what makes ignorance even more dangerous is that it’s usually invisible. What I mean by that is, if you don’t know something, there’s a good chance you don’t know you don’t know it!

So, in your planning, ignorance can show up in two ways:

  1. You’re not clear on what’s most important to you because you’ve never asked yourself that question.
  2. You’ve “forgotten” what’s most important to you because you aren’t focusing on it.

You can address these two challenges head on by training yourself to plan by the week.

Plan by the Week

Weekly planning–when done correctly–forces you to get clear on what’s most important to you each week and what actions you need to take. It also keeps you focused on what’s important through the scheduling and execution of those actions.

Using the week instead of the day as your time management building block forces you to look at things differently–literally.

Get a planner with a week-at-a-glance format so that you can see the whole week at once, and follow these steps at the beginning of each week:

  1. Identify your top weekly goals by asking yourself, “What are the most important goals I want to accomplish this week?”
  2. For each of these goals, ask yourself, “What actions do I need to take to achieve this goal?”
  3. From this list of actions, schedule any time-sensitive appointments first. This will reveal blocks of “open” time that you can use to complete actions that are not time-sensitive.
  4. For actions that are not time-sensitive, assign them to the days where they fit best.

But as powerful as weekly planning is, it cannot by itself free you from the prison of your own mind.

Create a Dialogue

You can expand the power of weekly planning by getting out of your head and into someone else’s. Try this:

  1. The next time you do your weekly planning, invite someone who knows you well to join you.
  2. As you ask yourself the first question described in the 4-step planning process above, ask your friend to answer that same question, too (for you, not for himself).
  3. Compare your answers–what you think your most important goals are and what he thinks your most important goals are–and see what you can learn from your friend’s perspective.

Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

Through the combination of weekly planning and a powerful dialogue with a friend, mentor, or coach, you can expand your perspective and prevent being boxed in by ignorance.

Copyright 2007 Curtis G. Schmit

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