Last week I attended my second quarterly planning day. A session run by two (awesome) coaches locally.
Spending time in these sessions is helpful in a number of ways which I want to put in writing.
a) Because these are benefits it’s important for me to focus on.
b) Because I love putting things in writing!
c) Maybe there will be something here which helps you – I hope so.
My 6 Planning Pointers
1. Sometimes you need to get away from your desk to work out what you’re doing there.
I love my desk. It’s well equipped, well set up, and (now) feels like my own space.
It’s a fantastic place for the work I do in my business. Client work is there, reference books are there, access to the internet, music and email are all there… (There’s also a cat perched on my diary at the moment which isn’t useful but does add to the atmosphere.)
However, as I’ve discovered in these workshops, when I’m trying to think about future plans or the bigger picture I need space away from distractions to clear my head and change my focus.
At my desk, I can focus on specific tasks and a set agenda; but stepping away from that space can give me more freedom for creative thoughts and ideas. Sometimes that’s what I need.
2. Where are you now?
Spending time focusing on what you’re doing now is necessary when building a path to your goals. It can also be surprising.
There are things I worked through last week which I knew I could be doing better, but it was also great to identify those things I’m doing well. There can be a tendency to focus on the struggles we see coming ahead, but it’s just as important to consider the positive steps we’ve taken to get us to our current position.
This focus on now, can also help us recognise why things we’ve spent time on haven’t produced the outcomes we hoped for. Whether it’s going to networking meetings where our ideal customer won’t visit, or focusing time on social media accounts which don’t match the needs of our business, we need to review why we’re doing these things and be prepared to move on.
3. Think about your goals.
When I went to the first of these sessions I didn’t have clear goals for my business. I wanted to get more work and earn more money but I hadn’t thought any further than that.
Now I’ve considered what I actually want to achieve, not only in my business but as a person outside my work. Whether it’s more money, more work or more free-time you want, unless you identify clear aspirations and assess them it’s very difficult to make the improvements you need to achieve them. And, more than that, you’ve got nothing to measure against to show you’ve reached those targets.
4. Be realistic
At these sessions, we set goals for ourselves and make ourselves accountable to others in the group to ensure we make progress. Since the last session, I hadn’t completed all my targets in the timescales.
This was partly because I’d not understood the size of the tasks I was giving myself, but also because I hadn’t realised all the pulls on my time which restrict how much I can achieve. Being unrealistic means setting yourself up to fail which doesn’t help anyone.
I’m sure I’ll have made some mistakes again this time, but I hope I’ve been more realistic about how much I can do because ticking off those activities and seeing real progress is a fantastic feeling.
5. Change things around
Yes, it’s great to make a plan – to consider your ultimate goals and identify steps to get you there. But it’s also ok to recognise that things aren’t working as you expected and try something new.
Give yourself a chance to see the benefit of the work you’re doing but, as I said before, focus on what you’re aiming for and consider where you are – if your current plan isn’t going to get you to your goal it’s time to think about other options.
6. Keep your plan visible
Whatever your plan, it’s no good if you never look at it. How will you know if you’re making progress unless you can identify the work you’re doing and the direction you want to travel.
I think this is more important for some people than others, but I also know that unless I keep ticking things off my list I feel like I’m not making progress. And I need to feel that I’m making progress!
Plan, Do, Review
These are things which have helped me to feel more in control of my progress and the direction of my business. I hope that some of them will be of interest to you.
How do you feel about planning? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?