Having worked with a number of organizations on their annual planning, something I’ve noticed is those who take their planning offsite are more productive – the simple reason, no distraction which equals focus on the task at hand.

If you’re thinking of setting time aside for your future planning, looking at where you’re going, what you need to get there – then get away from your office; you’ll thank yourself for doing it.
When we’re working on plans in our normal work environment the chances are the phone will ring, we get distracted by emails and of course by “interruptions” from staff. How can this be any good for the task at hand, it surely can’t be.
Not only are we faced with distractions (caused by others) but we can also find our minds wandering away from the task at hand. Because we’re in our usual work environment we are aware of other things around us that need doing and our mind can easily slip away to thoughts about how these can be achieved.
Stop the opportunity of being distracted dead in it’s tracks by simply getting away from the office, find a neutral place you can work from; your home isn’t likely to be that – there’s distractions there too. 
If there’s a team of you, and hopefully there’s more than just yourself, look at hiring a small meeting or conference room – forget that this might cost you a hundred dollars or so, see it as an investment rather than a cost.  The added productivity that you’ll gain from being away from the office will soon outweigh any costs of a meeting room. 
Something that’s also important is to let all staff know that you are away from the office and not contactable, there’s always someone else who can handle those “urgent calls”, “urgent emails” – you don’t have to, and should there be any need for you to be contacted have one person in your office who will gather any information and call you, you don’t want everyone calling.
If at all possible phones and other internet capable devices should be switched off and only activated when you’re having a break, the only exception to this is for “those” calls from that one person in your office – so if at all possible suggest that they can only contact you when you know you will be having a break from planning. 
It’s a no brainer really, we call know that in our personal lives when we want to get something done we need to switch off from external distractions, and the same goes for your work life, to get to the end of your daily “to do list” you need focus and as minimal distraction as possible. 
So next time you’re planning to set time aside to plan – look for a venue, advise staff that you’re not to be disturbed and should they need you they’re to let your ‘contact person’ know – maybe that person can handle any queries/requests without you having to be disturbed.
Whatelse can you do to make sure your day is productive? If you have Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions drop a them in the comments below.

 

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