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Planning A Planning Day

So I’ve realized it’s time to take my own advice and start planning my planning days. A while back I experimented with taking Mondays off to work on my business revamp and re-branding and then to schedule some downtime as well to rest.

While it was a great opportunity to get the re-branding done it didn’t work so well in the downtime department or for getting some business planning done. Now it’s time to get deliberate about scheduling a monthly business planning session.

I’ve been struggling the past few weeks trying to get all the pieces to fit and feeling like I’m losing sight of the “big picture”. I’ve also been feeling stuck and discouraged about where I am at.  I’m not where I thought I would be by the mid-point of 2014. So I went back and reviewed my strategic plan for 2014. It was great to see how much I had accomplished, but it also reminded me of key points and ideas I had forgotten.

It’s important to keep track of my progress, see what I have accomplished, and tweak the plan as needed. If I had been paying better attention and scheduling regular planning and review times I don’t think I would be feeling as stuck as I have been.

What will a planning session do for you?

  • Help remind you why you are doing what you are doing – your “Big Why”
  • Keep the mission, vision, and goals you are working towards front and center. Without regular review, it is too easy to get distracted and pulled in a new direction. Then you start to lose sight of what the original plan was
  • You make better decisions in your day-to-day work
  • It helps keep you motivated, even when it gets tough
  • It also can tell you when it is time to seek outside help from a friend or mentor

So here is a checklist I’m working on for my first planning day:

  1. Pick a date and stick to it. This is a valuable appointment. Don’t let yourself say that you will get it done when you have some time. Trust me you won’t.
  2. Pick a location. Preferably outside of your home and home office. Trying this at home rarely works. We get distracted by laundry, dishes, the dog, and other chores. These are just distractions that give you an excuse not to work on the business. Get outside of your office and move into a different environment without all these “should dos” calling out to you.
  3. Pick your environment.“Where you do what you do matters” says author Bob Goff. I love being outside.  My ideal spot is where I can at least see some nature. If the door is open so I can hear the wind and the birds even better. Not only that but…
    • Can you sit and be comfortable?
    • Do you have healthy snacks and drinks you can quickly grab?
    • Are there essential oils you could diffuse to help you focus, increase creativity, or energize you?
    • Do you have the tools you need to work on your plan? Calendars, pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, journals, etc. Whatever you need, have it on hand and within easy reach.
    • Music – do you need music playing in the background? Do you need silence? Or does the sound of the ocean or running water help? What helps you focus and be comfortable?
  4. Write out your goals. Make sure you have a somewhat structured plan in place. Leave room for inspiration, but be intentional. Write out your top 3-5 goals for this planning session.
  5. Plan down-time. Make sure to plan regular breaks. Go for a run, take your “Take-A-Break” Kit with you, or journal.
  6. Journal. This is a great place to track inspiration, reflect on what you have done, and what you want to do next, and write about where you are stuck or anything you need to get out of your head.
  7. Spend some time in prayer. For me, this is an important step. It centers my heart, reminds me of my blessings, and it is a chance to be still and listen.
  8. Keep it simple. Don’t try to do too much, especially this first time around, or you will feel discouraged. You are going to run into all sorts of distractions, your mind shifting to other ideas and things to do. You will find it hard to focus.
  9. Enjoy the process. This can and should be a rewarding time. This is a time to congratulate yourself on how much you have gotten done, recalibrate where necessary, and get re-energized for what you have planned next.

What would your ideal planning day be like?

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