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make your plan

Do you have a plan for something that you want to do or make? Is this a plan that is floating around in your head? Often, I hear clients say something like, “Someday I want to organize this room and turn it into my office.” Or “it would be great to clean out the garage so that my car can fit inside.” You can replace this wishful thinking with thoughts of your own. If you have a someday plan or idea like these pretend clients, I have a solution for you.  There are 7 steps to make your plan a reality.

Here are the 7 steps:

Step 1: Name the end result

Have a concrete idea of what you want to accomplish. Create a vision board showing how you want it to look. You can do this by cutting pictures out of magazines or by creating a virtual vision board on Pinterest. In addition to knowing what you want to accomplish and how it will look, put into words how it will make you feel when you get this project done.

Step 2: List all the things you need to do to make your plan happen

Next get out a piece of paper or sit down at your computer and make a list (in no apparent order) of all the things you need to do to take this project through to the end result.

Step 3: Order the list

Now, think sequentially but start at the end. What is the very last thing you will do before declaring this project done? Then, what is the step that comes before that and so on.

Often, one step hinges upon the completion of the step before. Go into great detail here. Write down even the smallest tasks.

Step 4: Buy supplies and/or find help

Do you have all the supplies on hand to complete the project? The follow up question to this is: do you have the skills necessary to complete the project? If you need an extra pair of hands to work on the project, enlist that help. Perhaps you need to find someone with a certain expertise to complete part of the project. Find the help you need before getting started so that you can keep the momentum going.

Step 5: Schedule the steps

As you list the steps to take think about how much time each step will take to complete. You may consider breaking the steps down even further so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. For instance, instead of emptying the entire garage in one day you can decide to empty one wall of the garage in an hour or two.

Next, schedule each step in your calendar. Consider how much time you have available and allow some flex space in case something more important crops up in your day.

Step 6: Find an accountability partner

Enlist an accountability partner to help you keep your project moving forward. Tell that person what your plan is for the day or the week as it applies to the project. Then give your partner updates.

Step 7: Celebrate each win

Celebrate and reward yourself every time you complete a step. Save a big reward for yourself when you finish the entire project.

In conclusion:

Follow these 7 steps and make your plan a reality.

  1. Name the end result.
  2. List all the things you need to do to make your plan happen
  3. Order the list
  4. Buy supplies and/or find help
  5. Schedule the steps
  6.  Find an accountability partner
  7. Celebrate each win

Many people have wonderful plans in their heads but when it comes right down to it, they don’t know how to start or what to do to finish the plan. Thinking up the plan is just the beginning. If you want to make your plan a reality you have to work the plan. When you have a concrete end result and a vision of how you want the project to look and feel it is much easier to finish the project. And, if you have a significant reward in sight – something to work for – that is even better.

If you have a plan in mind and are looking for an accountability partner, consider joining the Clear Space for You virtual clutter support group I run with Jonda Beattie.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Contact Diane for a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation.

18 Comments

  • And I feel the most vital step is scheduling time to do each task. I’ve seen a lot of people get their plans and buy the stuff but never schedule it in their calendars!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      I agree! It’s all fine and well to talk about doing the tasks yet if you don’t set time aside in your schedule it never happens.

  • Some projects I detail out in advance, and others I am less specific with. It just depends. In general, I have a big idea or goal in mind and then create a list of tasks and questions. But I don’t usually order them because I find that projects tend to be fluid in terms of the steps. But I can see that in certain cases, it’s important to make a step-by-step plan. However, sometimes putting too much detail at the onset can cause overwhelm and make it more challenging to activate. It is fascinating how valuable having an accountability partner is. I’ve experimented with it this past year and have been amazed at the results for myself and my clients.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Linda. I agree that sometimes acknowledging the details can create a feeling of overwhelm. Sort of like facing a mountain and realizing that to get to the top you have to climb it and that it will take time.

  • This is so simple, and yet we so rarely do it! I think we tend to dream the result, and then start, and then figure out things we need, and then stop in the middle to go shopping, and then get distracted and abandon ship. In other words, we tend to lack the intentionality that is really needed to complete a project. A little thorough planning and a strong process can be very helpful to keep us focused. Accountability is also a key! Love that you added this:)

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Seana. Yes. It’s time to stop dreaming and start doing – intentionally

  • I love that you included being specific on the steps. Steps are the pathway from nothing to the goal. Thank you for sharing.

  • Yes! Accountability is especially important. Often people get overwhelmed and burn out without some form of external motivation. This is a solid process.

  • I think planning out a project is critical to its completion. It makes us think more with intent, moving from an idea to a goal.
    Anyone can make a list or a list of their list. As you pointed out, which is an important step, is ordering the things we need to do. Often I’ll let my ideas be fluid, then I’ll go back and re-order what I need to do. Whether it’s a timely task or one that’s really important for the completion of the project.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      I know, Ronni. Ordering the list is one of the most critical steps in the process!

  • Lucy Kelly says:

    Even if I don’t end up following my plan exactly, taking the time to outline it first like this is crucial. Having something detailed and solid to reflect back on means my meandering is a lot more channeled and purposeful.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      I agree, Lucy. A little wandering away from the plan is not usually a wrong thing to do so long as you have a solid plan to fall back on.

  • I like that you suggested #3, putting your list in order. I think this is where people get bogged down. Not knowing the order or not doing it and then it’s have to move forward. Thinking through the process sets people up for success.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Janet. For me, putting the steps down in a random order and then sorting the list helps me to think through the process and even define how I want to get it done.

  • Diane, I have a running joke with Nanette that every time I create a vision board, it’s just a series of landscapes with tall, slender women with long ponytails doing outdoor yoga. I don’t like being outside or doing yoga, so we’ve determined that my ultimate goal is to be a tall, slender woman with a long ponytail. Do you think I can effectively plan for that? 😉

    But seriously, this is a superior guideline for creating a step-by-step plan for managing any project, whether it’s organizing or writing a novel or building a mountaintop yoga studio. And I love, love, love that you included step 6, because I think accountability is the key to any plan making it all the way to the finish line.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you very much, Julie! I love learning about your ultimate vision board…hmmm