White boards and sticky notes. I’m a big fan.

I’ve always liked calendaring, planning and organizing. I suppose it helps me feel in control, when, in fact, I am not. I’ll revisit that little confession in therapy, I promise.

Planning is incredibly valuable. It actually allows for more flexibility, creativity and adaptation, not less. (More on that later.) For years, I have been using a white board to create a big monthly calendar with my big events and projects and their corresponding to dos. This system, combined with daily reminders and events on a digital calendar, served me well for a long time.

This third year of starting my small business, I learned that my calendaring practices weren’t enough. I was always running behind – never allowing myself nearly enough time to plan events, much less advertise them effectively. I had to set aside a lot more time to look much farther ahead in the future, set goals and set a schedule for launching a product or event. I now block out a day each month for it.

Not only was I not getting things done, but I was burning out on my own business.

Learn from my mistakes. Here are five reasons why advance planning is the way to go:

  1. Planning increases your creativity. Spending a few hours planning out and setting aside time for the phases of your project will free up much-needed mental space for dreaming, drafting and implementing your big idea.
  2. Planning reduces your stress. If you’re following your plan, you’ll no longer be pulling long days and nights finishing a project at the last minute. That means you’ll be swimming in far fewer stress hormones, which contribute to all kinds of mental and physical health issues.
  3. Planning helps you learn. I also set goals as part of the planning process, including what I want to learn from the new initiative, program or product I’m launching. If I’m clear about my desired learning and set aside time to reflect, I can learn more quickly.
  4. Planning makes you more adaptable. If you are less stressed and clearer about your goals, you’ll be able to learn on the fly and make adjustments if something goes sideways. Budget time for shorter planning check-ins so you can make changes along the way.
  5. Planning gives you time for YOU. If you are calmly moving forward in completing your project, you’ll be able to take walks, breathe, cook good meals and take care of the family and friend relationships that matter most to you.

Bonus reason: Planning makes you sexier. I mean, c’mon. Sticky notes and white boards are hot, y’all!

I am now sold on the practice of thinking 6-12 months in advance of any big new thing I’m planning to put out in the world. Set time aside with your sticky notes, white board and calendar so you have a more creative, adaptable and burnout-proof existence.

I’ve set some planning time aside for you. My Big Ol’ Radical Planning Session is set for Thursday, Dec. 8, and will help schedule your big work projects and make space for yourself. Register now.