Learn when and how often you should plan. Strategic planning is crucial for your success and easier than you might think. Get a rundown of a successful planning process and free worksheets.
So you want to breathe easier and still achieve more. You want to stop asking yourself how to finally crush that big goal.
Of course, you know how to focus on the things that matter. You stopped chasing all the shiny objects. Now, you want to plan like supermom so you can get so much more done.
But when and how often do you have to schedule a little planning session? It can be hard to dedicate precious time to just sitting around and planning. But trust me, a little bit of planning can go a long way. It will pay off.
Let’s dive deeper into why, how often or when to plan.
Why planning is important for you
Do you constantly find yourself putting out fires instead of spending your time intentionally? Maybe you start your day asking yourself what you have to do or where to start.
You don’t even know what the next best action step is. You have no go-to tasks scheduled in a strategic planning process and you wonder how to come up with a plan for your day.
I have been there. I put off planning because I had no time for that!
That was a stupid idea. Without a plan, you will waste precious time wondering what to do next or what tasks need your full attention.
You may think, I can’t afford to take even 10 minutes for strategic planning! But trust me, you can’t afford NOT to plan.Even if it's the last 2 minutes before you go to bed. Use a tiny little bit of your time for planning. It can go a long way.Click To Tweet
Envision your future to jumpstart your planning process
One of the best planning tips: Don’t have a plan for one entire year. Rather have a vision. I try to look down the road and decide where I want to be in one year or in five years or in life. Try to envision your future and what you want it to look like. What do you need to accomplish to be successful? How much time will you need to get there? What are important milestones along the way?
Focus on those goals that matter most right now in your season of life. You cannot do it all now. Instead, choose to pursue only one thing for some time and see what happens.
You might enjoy going through the “Goal Focus Workbook” as a strategic planning guide that is in my free resource library for subscribers. Subscribe and grab your password at the bottom of this post.
As a mom, you will have things coming up throughout the year that you can’t put off or re-schedule, like summer break, vacations, holidays or Ramadan. However, you can’t plan action steps one year in advance. Your life will get crazy every once in a while and you can’t predict when the little one is going to be sick at home.
Takeaway: Don’t try to map out the entire year in detail. Instead, choose one to three focus goals to achieve in this season of your life. Write down what exactly you want to accomplish. Be specific.
Create Your 12 Week Plan
Instead of creating a yearly plan that will most probably fail, you create a strategic plan for the next 12 weeks or quarter of the year. What are the most important things you need to accomplish in the 12 weeks to come? This is a span of time that you can oversee much better than 12 months. Choose the Top goals for the next 12 weeks/the next quarter. Think of milestones you need to reach in order to approach each goal.
Takeaway: Decide on your goals and milestones only for the next 12 weeks or yearly quarter and roughly map out a way that gets you there.
The monthly planning process – Key to your success
You now have goals in place that you want to crush! Now break them down into 4 weeks or monthly sections. I like to do a monthly planning session on the first of the month. I decide on the 3 most important things that I need to do in order to accomplish my goals for the 12 weeks and beyond.
The monthly planning session is a great time to review goals, re-focus on those that matter, and decide the next best thing to do. 4 weeks or one month is a good span of time to oversee and allows you to make significant progress. But only if you know where you want to be and how to get there. So, obviously, you need to break these goals and milestones further down.
Takeaway: Decide on the things you want to accomplish in the next 4 weeks or month. Don’t go overboard, be realistic. Less is more.
Your weekly plan of attack
Your monthly goals need to be broken down once again. I create weekly action plans and in my experience, Sunday night is a great time for that. I review the goals for that month and decide which action steps to work on that week. So, think of every step of action you can think of to accomplish your goals. Start with listing them in a brainstorming session. After that, arrange and schedule them to create your weekly plan and daily to-do-list.
Use a planner, a digital tool like Evernote, or print out free weekly planner sheets, like the beautiful Irma planner by Eliza Ellis. Check out her free Irma planner collection with daily, weekly, and monthly spreadsheets.
Consider batch tasking if you want to work more effectively as described in this post. I schedule my tasks into the batch tasking time blocks I created for my work-at-home sessions. I get more done if I focus on one or two kinds of tasks that day, for example writing tasks. As a subscriber, you can download a “Batch Tasking Workbook” in the free resource library. (You can subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of this post.)
Order your tasks and give your most important tasks your full attention. Mind your own cycle of activity! Schedule your important tasks when your mind is sharpest. For me, this is in the morning, right when I’m home from taking the little girl to playschool. Before that, it was the naptime after lunch. Without distractions, I do my best work.
My energy is lowest in the afternoon and I have my little one at home then, so this is the time when I can’t focus or sit at the desk.
Takeaway: Take a few minutes on the weekend to decide on the action steps for the week. Schedule them in your calendar. Be specific so you know exactly what to do when the time has come.
If I’m determined to make significant progress with a project, I do an extra 2 minutes of reviewing and planning at the end of the day. I check what I need to focus more on or reschedule.
When I sit down at my desk, I look at my to-do-list for the day that is ordered according to priority. Most important things come first so I can work on them when my mind is still fresh and sharp. Least important tasks come last.
Planning process steps in a nutshell
- Have a goal you want to achieve
- Map out where you want to get in the next 12 weeks or quarter of the year
- Create a monthly plan
- Have a weekly planning session
- Create a specific to-do-list for each day with action steps (An action step is something you can DO instantly, like “write 500 words on topic X” or “learn 20 words in French” as opposed to “work on learning French”)
Planning seems to be a lot of work and hassle. But it’s actually not. For example, I often have my weekly planning session with a pen and planner while the little girl takes her bath besides me. I check my daily to-do-lists for 2 minutes each night when the little one is sleeping.
I strongly encourage you to give strategic planning a try. Take a few minutes and see what happens. If you want some helpful strategic planning worksheets to get you started, subscribe to the newsletter and download the “12 Week Planning Kit” in the free resource library for subscribers.
Tips to make planning and goal achieving work for you
If you are new to planning or you didn’t find much success in the past, try these planning tips:
- Focus on the things that matter. Ditch the rest. Less is more!
- Start small with only 2 minutes of planning and stick with it
- Become ignorant and stop information overload! Put blinders on and allow yourself to ignore shiny objects and trends.
- Create different action plans to pull up anytime you have some time to yourself.
- Use batch tasking.
- Start planning your week intentionally. Find a 10 minute-chunk of time in your week to sit down, think, and plan.
- Create working routines for recurring tasks so you run on autopilot. That will save you time and brainpower.
Don’t waste any more time and start today! What is it that you want to achieve? Start approaching your big goal!
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