Planning In Smaller Pieces

My wife and I are taking a trip to New England this year. We love traveling and exploring new places, but we both realize that a nice trip doesn’t just happen. There are so many details that go into a successful trip such as determining a rough itinerary, scheduling transportation, finding places to stay (especially if you’ll be staying at multiple locations), and figuring out what attractions you’d like to see and activities you’d like to do. A successful trip requires planning, but it can be overwhelming to get all the details nailed down, especially if you’re life has a lot of other things going on as well. This is why it’s so important to break down the planning process into manageable bites.

For example, once we have decided where we want to go and a high-level idea of what we want to see, we begin setting aside blocks of focused time to plan the trip. Since the weather has been nicer lately, we like to go to the park for about an hour on Sunday afternoons for our planning sessions. On our way to the park we decide what we want to accomplish during this specific session.

For our first session we determined what in New England we wanted to see. During session number 2 we laid out a route we wanted to take in order to see everything we wanted to see. Our last session included figuring out where we wanted to stay each night. Once we’ve accomplished what we set out to do for that session, we’re done! It’s been amazing how much of the trip we’ve been able to plan within a few short yet focused sessions.

Without some clear objectives I feel like I’m “shotgun planning”; jumping from one aspect of the trip to another without ever making significant progress. I also find that shotgun sessions usually take longer and require more of them to achieve significant results than a few focused sessions would. Focused planning sessions seem to have the added benefit of building excitement and anticipation for the trip versus frustration. I can’t imagine that a trip planned in frustration wouldn’t also bring some of that frustration on the trip as well.

If you have something to plan, whether it’s a trip, an event, or anything else, start the planning process early and try breaking it down into small, focused sessions. This will keep you from waiting until the last minute and being forced into a situation where you have to get everything planned in one session. It will also give you time to adjust and hone your plan, which will likely help you create the successful experience you’re after.

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