As discussed before, when a team goes into a game, its coaches have scouted the opponent, determined which of the team's strengths match up best to the opponent's weaknesses and created a game plan. Each team adjusts its plan based off how the game progresses, but the chance of winning at all depends greatly on starting with a plan. The same applies to living your life: plan your weeks and days while making adjustments as time progresses so you attack your priorities instead of getting sidetracked by others.
Whether on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, allot time at the end of each week to review the week ending as well as plan for the week ahead. Take control of your productivity by creating your own weekly game plan. I consider this process my weekly strategy session, where I plan for how to address the following:
- Tasks - Every project needs to be broken down into smaller, more manageable action steps; each of those actions should be assigned a deadline so there is an associated timeline. Evaluate which actions scheduled for the week ending were left undone and should be carried forward; then, determine when each of those incomplete tasks will get done. Decide what new tasks should be added to your to-do list; assign deadlines for each.
- Team Communications - Get in-depth updates from each member of your team (at work, at home or involved with the community projects you're currently addressing), including what is working, what is not working and what needs attention.
- Client Communications - Catch-up on processing outstanding emails, calls and snail mail. Reach out to schedule time with those who have been needing your attention. Touch bases with clients from whom you've not heard lately, whether with gratitude, to wish a happy birthday or simply seeing how things are going. Some should include a call to action but not all.
- Time Commitments - Review the upcoming week's commitments to ensure you've scheduled time for completing whatever preparations have yet to get done. Be certain your calendar includes buffers for travel to appointments as well as time to deal with the unforeseen that might arise.
- Personal and Professional Development - Determine opportunities for growth, including any training, networking or events that will move you towards your goals. Evaluate anything you've received via email or snail mail that has an imminent registration deadline, and decide whether to attend.
Be strategic and map out a specific plan for addressing all that supports your priority goals, understanding that "every what assigned a when is more likely to get accomplished." I have yet to find a "Someday" on any calendar; there is always Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday but no Someday, which means assigning time for completing actions moves the results of their completion from dreams to goals.
As we all know "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry", it is imperative to allocate time daily to reassess and make sure the next 24 hours continue along the right path. We live in the real world, and things happen to derail even the most well thought-out plans. As hiccups arise, adjustments will need to be made, but your days will be guided by your weekly strategy, which will be empowered and reinforced with these daily wrap-ups. Address these items at the end of each day:
- Communications - Get updates from team members and "hot prospects", new and returning; touch bases with those that need awareness of what's happening and what you're doing.
- Tasks - Review the to-do list from the day ending, determining which incomplete tasks can be completed when. Prepare the next day's must-do list, documenting what 3-5 action items will be realistic for the next 24 hours so you can hit the ground running to complete them starting first-thing in the morning.
- Time - Evaluate your schedule for the next day, verifying that you're prepared for it all. If you're not yet ready, when will you make time for completing those preparations.
- Workspace - Tidy up... File new items, return that day's work into each item's home and set out the materials for whatever you'll address first upon returning to your office.
- Successes - Celebrate all you've accomplished in the day that's ending. If you got out of bed, you accomplished something! Acknowledging these wins motivates doing more.
- Gratitude - Make note of that for which you are grateful at the end of each day, whether one item or a list of things, and consider all areas of your life (home, work, community, self).
- Final Preparations - Plan from where your meals will come, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Will you pack your lunch or go out to eat? Do you need to put something in the slow-cooker that evening or in the morning? Then, check the forecast and pick out each detail of what will be necessary for the next day's outfit, including jewelry and undergarments.
With proper planning, what matters most to you finds time in your schedule, and you stay on track amidst all the curveballs that life throws your way. What steps do YOU take to plan ahead?