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In our last challenge, you evaluated your business, worked out what was working and what wasn’t and made some notes about what you could change. You also defined your goals for the next quarter and mapped out your objectives. This time we are looking at making progress in meeting those objectives. And that means creating a 90 day plan.
Goal setting is only meaningful when you have a system to hold yourself accountable for meeting your objectives. Working in a solo business, you are the only one affected by your failure to meet your goals, and it can often be challenging to motivate yourself.
Why not join our new Facebook group. You will find like-minded people who will help, support and offer accountability to help you keep on track.
Now let’s get stuck in with this challenge …..
This month I want you to sit down and come up with a plan for the next 90 days.
Being meticulous about how you schedule your time is essential when it comes to being able to grow your business. You want to do it in the least amount of time, while also maintaining a life (and your sanity!)
This challenge breaks down exactly how to plan and schedule your days for maximum productivity and growth.
Action 1: Identify all the work needed to meet your goals for the quarter.
You should already have your goals and objectives written down from last month’s challenge. If you haven’t, then it might be worth revisiting them before you start this challenge.
- Define your goals.
- Be clear on the objectives you need to meet for each goal.
- Write down all the actions you need to make to reach your objectives.
- Finally, write down all the tasks/steps that you need to do to complete the above activities (the actions and tasks may be the same, depending on the scale of your goals!).
What we are trying to do is break down the work needed into smaller and smaller, more manageable, chunks of work.
There should be roughly no more than a day’s worth of work in each chunk (but use whatever makes it more manageable for you).
These chunks of work are then easier to focus on and complete than focus on the bigger picture. If you can slowly tick off each chunk of work then slowly and surely you will be meeting your goal.
This should leave you with a list of tasks, and their related business objectives and goals. Basically a roadmap of everything you need to do for each goal.
Action 2: Estimate, Sequence and Prioritise
Now you have all the tasks written down in a list do the following:
- Go through each task and estimate how long you think the task will take to complete.
- Assess whether any tasks have dependencies on others. i.e. do you need something to have happened from the first task to allow you to finish the next task? This dependency chain creates a critical path (in project planning terms). It means that your completion time of the whole project is dependant on the completion of all tasks in the chain. Hopefully, you don’t have many of these so you can keep things flexible.
- Assign who will do the task, assuming you have someone else you can outsource to! otherwise, it will just be you 🙂
- Decide on the priority of each task. This becomes obvious if you have a critical path. But suppose the results of completing one task will have a massive benefit on your business. In that case, that might be something you want to focus on sooner rather than later.
- Using the priorities you have just defined, decide on the sequence you want to complete your tasks.
Your task list now has columns for estimated effort, any dependancies, who is responsible for completing it, priority and sequence.
Action 3: Putting it in a 90-day plan
Depending on your goals, you may decide to focus on one goal for each month in the quarter. Or maybe you can spread all of the goals across all 3 months.
Whatever route you have decided to take, sit down with a piece of paper (or your digital planner) and split the page into 3 sections (one for each month). Write down the tasks you want to achieve in each of the months.
Make sure you don’t overload each month (your time estimates will help you here). Bear in mind any dependencies and the sequence you need to do the tasks in.
Please don’t forget that you have your day to day work and living to fit in too.
If your goals are in addition to your existing working life, you need to make time to do them amongst your current commitments. After all, there is no point spending all your time creating content for Instagram, which will increase your audience, which will increase your sales, if you have no time to complete your current orders. So there is a balance to achieve in your plan.
If you know you only have approximately 5 days a month where you can work on additional tasks, then don’t assign more than 5 days of work to each month. That may mean that your goals will take longer to achieve, but that is just how it is, your plan MUST be realistic.
Try assessing your current working practices if you have no time to fit in any extra work. This may even end up being your goal for month one – streamline your existing work to create more time. See if you can create any spare time before overloading yourself with more work. This post might help you look at your time management better.
Remember, your fundamental goal is ONLY to be working on things that will move you towards your goal. If your current tasks are not linked to your goals, then you need to consider how necessary they are.
Action 4: Fill in the detail on a monthly plan
Now is the time to grab your calendar/planner.
You already know what you want to focus on for each particular month due to the 90-day plan you created in Action 3.
For each month in the quarter, and using your monthly planner page, decide which tasks you will try and complete each week of each month. You don’t need to specify the exact day yet, although if you can, you are one step ahead.
When you have worked out which tasks you will do each week, go back to your original task list and fill in the target end date for each of the tasks. Again, these don’t need to be anything more specific than the week ending xxx, but if you can complete it in finer detail, go right ahead.
At this point, you can stop.
You have your 90-day plan and you are good to go.
This might mean that you haven’t been able to assign time to all of the tasks in your list in this quarter. If this is the case roll over the remaining tasks into your next 90-day plan.
But what you have in your hands is a plan for the next 3 months (90 days) that has considered what you need to do, the importance of each task and what you can realistically achieve.
Obviously, if you complete all of your tasks before the end of the 3 months, and you have more time available, then you have a ready-made list of what you know are important activities for you to begin working on.
The next steps are concerned with what to do on a week by week and day by day basis.
Action 5: Use your 90 day plan to plan your week every week
At this point, you can either sit down and plan each day for the next week, month or 90 days!
Usually, it is more realistic to do your detailed planning for the week at the end of the previous week. But do whatever works best for you.
Personally, I like to have a bit of structure, so find the monthly planning in step 4 works best for me and I can then adapt the details closer to their scheduled time.
Your planning for each week (or whenever you choose to do the planning), should include:
- Writing down all of the small, specific action steps that you need to complete (and when!).
- Schedule certain types of tasks for particular days each week, so you start creating a routine.
- Create time blocking for each day. For example, anything that requires lots of creativity/focus is scheduled during the first half of the day. Anything that sucks your energy, or can be done with minimal brainpower, schedule during the second half of the day, if that is how you work best or meets your needs!
Action 6: Plan & prioritise each day (every day)
The last thing that you do at the end of every workday is to review, prioritise and plan the following day’s schedule.
While you have already planned your week (action 5), taking a moment to review your game plan for the following day gives you peace of mind, and it also allows your brain to relax! Plus you can make any last-minute adjustments that might be needed.
So at the end of every workday review tomorrow’s schedule and do the following:
- Carryover / re-schedule any tasks that you might not have finished that day.
- Make sure to prioritise what is the MOST important task for tomorrow.
- Make sure you know exactly what you’ll work on first (should be the MOST important task!).
- Add any particular last-minute tasks that might’ve popped up.
- Acknowledge how much you achieved today!
- Give your brain permission to rest because you know exactly what you need to do tomorrow.
Nothing kills productivity and focus faster than getting distracted. Because you value your time, be RUTHLESS about killing distractions! This means doing things like …
- keeping your phone on silent and out of reach during work hours,
- not leaving tabs on your computer open (to things like Facebook),
- only checking social media during a scheduled time,
- not checking email throughout the day,
- turning all email notifications (including on your phone) off,
- and trying to work in an environment where you’ll have as few distractions as possible.
Take your goals and build a plan that fits your schedule and get ready to see your business bloom.
And make sure you keep repeating this every 3 months.