The Importance of Planning Ahead
It’s time to really think about your journey in business and in life. You have to do a lot of planning if you want to accomplish a lot. You have to set your goals, choose which tasks you want to complete, and what you will do day-to-day.
I want you to set aside your previous methods of planning and creating your to-do lists, if you do those things at all. Those methods may not have been working for you and they may not fit into this method anyway. This method is designed to cut the clutter by planning ahead the right way. You’ll be able to focus on what works and eliminate what doesn’t work.
The first step is to get a rough idea of what you want to accomplish in your life or business. I guarantee that what you plan right now will change, at least a little bit, as you go through day-to-day and implement your to-do list. The idea is to plan for now so you have some direction.
I have no doubt that there are some big things you want to accomplish and you’re tired of sitting on these projects. You know they can help you earn a bundle. You want to do better and do more. Now is the time to make that happen—through planning.
Next, I’ll show you the steps of how I recommend you plan.
Your Plan For Planning- Step 1
Write down everything (I mean everything! Don’t censor this) you would like to accomplish in the next month or so. Give yourself 20 minutes to free write this list.
Be open and honest and let everything come through that wants to— even if it surprises you. Write it down even if you know (or think) there is no humanly possible way to get it done in 30 days.
Your Plan For Planning- Step 2
Go through your list and scratch out everything that immediately stands out as not being a good fit for your next month or so. Go through one more time with a more critical eye and eliminate everything that isn’t truly on your heart and mind as being a top priority to complete.
Give yourself no more than 10 minutes to complete this task— give yourself too long and you’ll never make the decisions. The time limit forces you to seek clarity.
Your Plan For Planning- Step 3
Circle your top 3 priorities. What stands out to you? Which 3 things would really excite you to accomplish at the end of the month? These projects are what you’re going to focus your energy on. There may be other, smaller projects you can choose to fill in the blanks.
Later, we’ll do an exercise where you’ll plan your daily to-do list so you can accomplish your top 3 projects by the end of the month.
The Importance of This Planning Exercise
The fact is that you need to make plans like this so you can shape and take control of your life. Planning ahead helps you become more productive and more creative. Planning ahead will give you more energy to accomplish what you want to accomplish, because you won’t have to think about it day-to-day.
It’s discouraging and difficult if you tend to wake up and make your to-do list at the start of the day. Plan ahead and you won’t have to think at all–you can just jump right in and get things done.
“Thinking” can suck all the energy out of productivity. You can’t stew over whether you should do this task or that task first. You need to have a system and a solid plan of action so you can just sit down and do your work efficiently and effectively.
You want to work in a way that doesn’t drain all of your energy. You won’t be able to get things done if you don’t have energy to work. Thinking and brainstorming during your work hours can zap your productivity.
Get a rough idea of your schedule a month in advance; like I’m having you do now. Then, get a solid to-do list done the night before you have to work. These steps will give you energy to be more productive.
Planning Ahead Saves You A Bundle Of Time
You want to achieve as much as possible with as little energy as possible. The famous master of productivity, Brian Tracy, tells us that for every minute spent planning we save 10 minutes in execution. So if you spend about 12 minutes planning the night before, you’ll save yourself around two hours in work time the next day. You want extra hours in the day? There you go.
The fact is that some small business owners tend to be poor planners. We know it’s important, and we’ve heard it before, but we don’t do it the right way. This is the right way–you have to plan ahead, in detail, before you sit down to work.
Do this, and I can already promise you’ll accomplish more in the next month or so than you have all year—and it will all be due to planning.
Remember— the idea for this method is to make your general plans 30 days at a time. Then, you’ll make more specific, detailed plans the night before a workday. You can adjust and change your plan over time— it’s important to stay flexible. If you think of something new, simply add it to the list–don’t allow it to take up space in your mind and set you off course.
Productive In The Morning And Creative At Night
There’s another reason why making your list the night before can really help. You’re probably most productive in the morning, but you’re probably most creative at night. My book, Unlock the Creator In You! explains the really cool phenomenon behind this. It helps you work less, create more, and stand out in a crowded field of businesses.
Make your to-do list and let your creativity run free in the evening and at night while you’re sleeping. Then you can wake up refreshed, more creative, and much more productive.
Your 3 Important To-Do’s Per Day
As part of your planning, I recommend you have 6 total to-do’s per day. But only 3 of those to-do’s will be your “must do’s.” You can get 3 things done per day, right? Easy.
The other 3 to-do’s are things that would be good to do, but aren’t as crucial. You’ll be able to get some amazing things done by making sure you do at least these top 3 things per day.
And this sort of fits in with those 3 projects you’re going to be focused on. Choose 3 projects and take AT LEAST 3 steps toward completing these projects, every day.
Get Those To-Do’s Off Your Mind as They Come In, By Planning
You should get every potential “to-do” off your mind and on your list as soon as possible. You can keep a running list of things you would like to do but don’t have time to do right now, so they don’t clutter your mind. You need to be free to focus on your most important tasks.
Don’t let anything set you off or distract you. That includes new marketing techniques or business models. Stick with what you’ve planned to do. Put everything else aside for now until you follow your 3 projects through to completion.
Breaking Down Your Top 3 Tasks
This is meant to be a simple process, so I’m going to give you examples of what your 3 major projects might be that you plan ahead for. These should be high value items that have the potential to boost your income. They should be things that will make you feel great for having accomplished them.
Maybe it’s writing a new e-book, launching a new website, and adding 1,000 new subscribers to your e-mail list.
Tailor your list of 3 major things to your business, of course.
Choose your 3 things. Then, go through each of them and break the tasks needed to complete them down into their smallest steps.
For an ebook it might be:
Brainstorm topics for the book
Brainstorm chapters for the book
Research competing books
Come up with a unique angle for the book
Brainstorm subtopics for the book
Create an extensive outline for the book
Do extensive research for each topic and subtopic in the book
Write two thousand words of the book at a time in each work block
Finish writing the book and do a first edit
Edit the book for clarity
Launch the book
You can make your tasks even smaller than that. Think about how much time you would like to take on the ebook, depending on its length and depth. If you would like the book to take 15 days, break it down into 15 tasks. If you would like the book to take 30 days, break it down into 30 tasks.
Within reason, writing an ebook can take as long or short of a time as you would like. Stretch yourself and press yourself to get it done.
Go through this process with each of the tasks on your list. You may get more than these 3 tasks done, certainly, but at least you will have accomplished 3 major things for your business over the course of a month.
However You Do It, Plan It
My method might be perfect for you or maybe you want to do it your way. The only truly important thing is that you do plan ahead.
Choose a few major projects to focus on—or just one project.
Figure out what you need to do to complete that project. Break your tasks down. Get your to-do lists out of your head and down on paper.
Plan ahead what you’ll do each day.
Rinse and repeat.
Plan, plan, plan. Your business will get so much easier to handle and grow and you’ll be so much more productive as a result.