Don’t be

Have you ever found yourself burning the midnight oil, trying to meet a deadline, and thinking, “Why do I do this to myself?” You’re not alone. The adrenaline rush of last-minute work can be addictive, but it’s a high-stress, high-risk way to operate. What if we could shift that narrative and find a better way?

The irony of me writing this two days after the my deadline is not lost on those close to me

As the late Douglas Adams once said: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

A humorous reminder of our all-too-human tendency to push things to the last minute. 

But here’s the thing: while it’s fun to joke about deadlines slipping by, the real magic of creating our desired outcomes happens when we’re ahead of them, thanks to good planning.

Planning is not just about avoiding the whoosh of deadlines. It’s about taking control, setting your pace, and ensuring you’re moving in the right direction. 

With a solid plan, you’re not just reacting to what comes your way; you’re proactively shaping your path. It’s the difference between being at the mercy of time and being in command of it.

So, why is planning important? 


  • It reduces stress and overwhelm, and improves quality of life and relationships
  • It’s empowering. 
  • It transforms the stress of looming deadlines into confidence, knowing you’re on track. 
  • It turns potential chaos into clarity and direction. 

Planning means you’re less likely to be caught off guard, more likely to seize opportunities, and always ready to tackle the next challenge head-on.

In short, embracing planning means you’re setting yourself up for success, one well-considered step at a time. And in a world full of whooshing deadlines, that’s not just smart; it’s essential.

Navigating through your week with ease and having time for everything that matters, whilst not feeling like you’re always playing catch-up. 

Sounds dreamy, right? 

It’s totally possible with some smart planning. Let’s break it down:

Setting Outcomes Like a Pro

1. First things first: know what you’re aiming for. 

Setting clear, actionable goals isn’t just about ticking boxes; it’s about creating a vision, the end game for where you want to go. 

As a dopamine addict myself, I can appreciate all too well the incredibly satisfying burst of  wellbeing that is experienced when crossing off those milestones,  which can go hand in hand with being busy with the wrong things, so aligning actions with the outcomes is essential if we want to end up at our desired destination without detours.  (Yes I do like a metaphor).

2. Task Breakdown: The Roadmap to Achievement

Once you know what you’re aiming for, breaking it down into smaller manageable bite-sized pieces can make it feel less intimidating, more manageable and support reducing procrastination.  

I’m a BIG advocate of lists.

It doesn’t matter whether you have:

  • a pad and pen
  • a task list on your phone 
  • or project management software 

If you try and keep your tasks in your head, you’re not setting yourself up for success (plus you don’t get that dopamine hit of ticking it off!)

3. Tasking and Delegation

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is the art of defining and delegating tasks. My team knows all too well that my estimates are famously optimistic—double the time I think! 

This is a common trait among entrepreneurs; we’re often caught in a cycle of excessive optimism and unexamined assumptions, as highlighted by Keith Cunningham.

Utilising some Scrum methodology

Firstly, what is the definition of done? When will you know that this task is successfully completed? What is the finish line for each task?

Secondly, assessing resources/skills are going to be required to complete the task.

Thirdly consider the ‘size’ is the task.  Putting a time on it isn’t always easy.  We use a fun method involving T-shirt sizes or dog breeds to estimate time — yes, it sounds quirky, but stick with me:

  • XS – less than an hour
  • S – 1-2 hrs
  • M 2-4 hrs
  • L up to a day
  • XL more than a day

When assigning tasks, especially to others, context and clarity are crucial. For substantial tasks, breaking them down into smaller, manageable pieces is essential to understanding the dependencies involved.

Mastering the Art of Prioritisation

Not everything on your to-do list is equally important. Identifying what needs your attention first can be a game-changer. 

I am a fan of Stephen Covey’s time management matrix.  If I find myself in the Important/Urgent box (top left) then I recognise I need to take a step back and start working smarter.

By understanding where tasks fall in this matrix can be a gamechanger

Now that you know 

  • What the task is
  • What you need to get it done
  • When it needs to be done by
  • How long it will take you

You should head over to your day planner / calendar / diary …. And block out the time that you need to get it done.  And not move this block of time. This time should be as important as a sales call / doctors appointment (insert here something of importance that you wouldn’t dream of missing / deferring)

And putting in buffer time for unexpected and unavoidable hazards will give you a real sense of coming in early and create another boost of lovely hormonal well being (I speak from experience)

5. Reflect and Adapt: Your Path to Continuous Improvement

It’s rare to find any system that is a “one size fits all” for every person on every occasion, so taking time to reflect on what’s working (or not) is key. It’s about being agile and ready to tweak your plans to stay on the path to success.

When you’re ahead of the game, you’re in a prime position to grab new opportunities. It’s like being the first in line at your favourite store’s big sale – the best deals are yours for the taking.

The discipline of planning transcends your to-do list. It enriches your life, giving you more time for learning, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones. It’s about living fully, not just staying busy.

Embrace the power of planning and see how it can transform your life. Remember, it’s not just about the tasks – it’s about creating a lifestyle that’s more organised, less stressful, and downright enjoyable. 

Your future self will thank you, and trust me, you’re going to love the view from the top!