In my office with one of the planning whiteboards (taken with my webcam)
I was heartened by the level of reader engagement on my post about scheduling yesterday. Thank you for reading and participating.
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.
No, I don't watch TV. I happily watch movies in my spare time but we don't have a TV hooked up to cable or anything.
Natalia, The brands are all separate so I could sell or spin off any one brand without hurting the others. For example, if someone came in and bought Bramble Berry, I could keep my lovely retail store in Bellingham or license out the SoapQueen brand to a large craft store chain. It's more work but it give me more options for the future.
Casco Bay Soap Co. says
thanks Anne Marie, I look forward to learning more from you. You are an inspiration….thank you for all your guidance.
Casco Bay Soap Co.
Thank you so much. Im almost done with all this information. Can I ask something else? Why bramble berry, otion and soap queen, instead to be just one brand ?
Thanks, thanks, thanks…. !
– Natalia Cruz
Anne-Marie, You are such an inspiring person! I've been reading your blog for over a year now and I didn't catch the full scope of what and how you do until you posted your schedule, and I'm completely amazed. It seems like each and every thing you do is intentional, is there anything in particular you do to keep focused? I simply cannot fathom staying as present and determined as you do. Is it safe to assume you don't watch tv? Thank you so much for sharing everything you do so publicly.
I think that is the key to my non-success so far: I don't plan nearly enough. I need to start a system that works for me. I don't know what works for someone who is incredibly forgetful.
Marmalade Hills says
Thanks Anne Marie! You are awesome! Off to get free trial of PlanPlusOnline 🙂
I use Plan Plus Online to do my general overview and scheduling – and then I sync that with my smartphone (iPhone now, Treo before this). I carry around a notebook for big ideas or to-do lists that get transferred to tasks in Plan Plus Online. Before Plan Plus, I was managing everything through Outlook but it wasn't as efficient for me.
Energy for my day is through eating fairly healthy throughout the entire day. People that hang out with me are amazed at how much I eat – but it's all healthy. Lots of protein, low on the processed carbs and very little sugar (save cupcakes) and fat (save cheese).
I go in phases where I write everything down and monitor every gram (using Livestrong.com) of everything that goes into my mouth to less draconian. I probably spend 1/3 of my year with hard core monitoring to keep myself honest.
I also meditate in short bursts throughout the week in the morning and work out at least 5 times a week.
I think all of those things really help with the energy throughout the day.
That is great you don't drink coffee, I was raw vegan for a year and half and didn't drink any coffee during that time . I just recently went back to coffee (I know it's really bad for you) but am just drinking it once or twice a week so it doesn't become a daily habit. Also I'm eating much healthier these days which I find helps with energy. A lot of people I work with use coffee to wake them up and keep them going so I just assumed that maybe it was helping you.
What do you find gives you energy with your 15+ hour days?
I deleted my previous comment due to a typo
Marmalade Hills says
What kind of tool do you recommend using for planning? Your phone calendar with short descriptions? Book type planner where everything is more spread out? I am an old fashion girl, I like to see things on paper and I like structured plan with bullets and highlighters vs just one straight line of text in my phone's task list. I love whiteboards, but it's hard to carry one around 🙂 so I'm just carrying around my paper folder with lots of other stuff…
I think being organized and planning is such a huge part of keeping things on tract. I usually review my planner the night before and plot out my to do list for the next day, it's nice to wake up and know what things need to get accomplished. When you're a one person micro business this is particularly important.
I really enjoy these type of posts too, thank you so much for sharing them with us!
I enjoy reading this blog and have been an avid reader for quite a while but I must say these types of posts are one of my favorites.
I love all the tutorials too but I can say that I look to you as a mentor in business and having these posts that gives us a peek into your life and world that I would not normally see is awesome.
I always wonder how you do what you do and getting some of the answers is great and helpful to me in working on growing as a business woman. Thank you for doing it and being a constant resource that I can turn to for knowledge and inspiration!
Morgane et Romeo says
Thank you, that was a very interesting post!!
Thank you so much for sharing with us your precious time ( i can imagine you in bed with your laptop finishing your post at midnight!)!
Have a great day!
I write down my yearly goals in a small 5x5p5 booklet. It is always im my wallet and I review it regularly. It keeps me focused on what really matter to me.