In my office with one of the planning whiteboards (taken with my webcam)
A couple questions came up on the comments – some easy ones:
How much do you sleep? 5 to 7 hours a night
What is a ‘Big Rock’? It’s Stephen Covey’s term for the ‘Must Do, Really Important, Lines Up with Value, Vision and Life Purpose’ things. For more on this, keep reading this post.
“I’m sure coffee helps.“ I wish. I don’t drink caffeine. Any. Nada. Zilch. One day, I could write a long post about weaning myself from that addictive substance and the subsequent walking-zombie month.
And the not easy one:
Could you share something about your marketing strategy?Yes! I totally can and will. And it’s complex enough to probably warrant a few well thought out posts. Plan on that in 2010 from me.
What did I say? Always on the iPhone. This is on a vacation to scout my brother’s wedding!
As I mentioned in this post, a full 10% of my schedule is devoted to planning my schedule. For me, planning happens in three stages:
1. Yearly Planning – I do this in November for the entire year. What goals do I want to achieve in an entire year? I’ve posted about this type of planning here and here. It usually takes about 2 days of planning, refining, planning, refining, planning and refining some more before goals, vision and value is aligned. And, this is a living document. If it needs to be changed during the year (say, we land a huge account or I get an awesome opportunity to travel abroad for work), it gets changed. I’ve blogged about the process of goal setting, planning your year, determining your vision and values here, here, here, and here. The yearly planning is by far the most difficult and challenging. Once it’s done, everything rolls easier from there.
2. Monthly Planning – I do this monthly with my Management Team for business and my Accountability team for personal stuff. I’ve blogged about the Management Team meeting here and the Accountability team here and here. This is just the process of looking at the big yearly goals and breaking them down into more manageable chunks of what needs to be accomplished in 30 days.
Project task board at Bramble Berry
3. Weekly Planning – I do this on Sunday or Monday morning. I look at my schedule for the entire week, revisit my goals for the year and the month and then start to slot those things in accordingly. Some of my weekly goals and tasks are around family and friends – they’re not all about business. Remember, it’s the extra 20% (health, family and friends) that makes me feel fulfilled in my life so my ‘Rocks’ also include nurturing important relationships. It usually starts with a list. I want to take XYZ class his week, see XYZ friend, go to So-and-So’s house for dinner, make XYZ sales calls, write 5 blog posts, work on X SoapQueen TV scripts etc…
Then, I go through my schedule and literally slot these goals (or “Rocks”) in (using PlanPlusOnline software), leaving lots and lots of time for the smaller pebbles and sand. In any given day, my task list is typically not more than 4 to 6 items. This allows me to be extremely flexible in helping out where needed for customer service, answering emails and all the other stuff that comes fast and furious when you own your own business.
Some of the things I do every single day don’t get written down as a task because they’re just part of the routine. For example, unless it’s a scheduled work out class, I just fit in gym time when I can. Or, daily clean up at the office. Routine, mundane things don’t go on my planning.
The whole process takes 20 minutes max and it’s easy to do. Productivity isn’t about running around, trying to get every single little task done, jumping from fire to fire. It’s about doing the few things that matter. It’s about doing the things that help to move you, your company and your family towards your goals.
Do I drop the ball and disappoint myself and others by not always meeting my deadlines and goals? Yes. I do. Life happens. And, tomorrow is another day. Do my days get totally messed up and not go as planned? Of course it does. Today was one of those days (thus the blogging at midnight). And, when it does, like a diet, you just get back on track and find time during the rest of the week or the weekend to complete your ‘Rocks.’ The pebbles and sand somehow always seem to find their way into the day without any help. Need help determining your rocks? The Cliff Notes version is here. Or, you can buy the book ‘First Things First’ by Stephen Covey (highly highly highly recommend) and do the exercises. They are enlightening and life changing.
Other tools: Whiteboards, whiteboards, whiteboards everywhere! I have FIVE huge whiteboards in my office. They are constantly changing with whatever project is being worked on, whatever the quarterly goals are and whatever we’re brainstorming on that everyone needs to see.
Planning your life isn’t difficult once you knock out the Yearly Planning – everything flows from those ‘Super Goals’ that you give yourself at the beginning of the year. Take a stab at it. Give it a try. Get started now and I’ll do a post in late December so we can all share our yearly goals and help one another get excited about goals, dreams, schedules and even a little pixie dust.