3 Steps to Effective Planning

planning time management Nov 09, 2020

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When it comes to planning, there are generally two groups of people.

One, the people who don't plan.

And two, the people who do plan.

Now, of the planners, we can further divide those into two groups.

The people who plan in their head. And the people who plan in a planner or an app.

I want to talk to you about planning.

Because a lot of people who do plan, will plan and get about their day.

And I would argue that there are three things you need to consider when it comes to planning.

And the first and the second thing have nothing to do with the actual planning.

Number one: what is your why?

Because, if you don't have a why, what are you going to plan for?

What's your purpose?

You need to have a why.

Now, here's the thing: your why may not be related to your business or your brand or your cause.

For example, I didn't know what my why was until about a year ago.

My other has late-onset Alzheimer's. She's a 3-year-old trapped in a 76-year-old body,

My father is 79-years-old and is my Mom's full-time caregiver.

Through in Covid-19 and you've got a very stressful situation.

So, my why is to make enough money pay off all Mom and Dad's debts and to get my Mom into an assisted living home, which has to have memory care specialists, and I pay for it.

I want an assisted living care that my father can pick wherever he wants Mom to go and I will pay the bill.

That's my why.

That's a huge why.

What's your why?

Have you thought about it?

Your why shouldn't be until quitting time, or until the weekend or until the first of the year.

What is your why?

What gets you up every single morning?

Start with the why.

If you really want to go deep on why, go read Simon Sinek's book, Start with Why.

You have to know your why.

That's number one.

Number two, your why feeds your goals.

Now, we haven't gotten to the planning stage yet because you have to have goals.

Your goals are directly derived from your why.

What is your goal?

My goal is to pay off my parents' debts, ease my Dad's financial burden, ease his mental burden from caring for Mom, and to pay for my Mom's assisted living care.

Those are my goals.

What do I need to DO in order to make those things happen?

Well, I need to make money.

I need to make a lot of money.

Now we're getting to the fun part.

Now I know my why.

Now I know my goals.

Now, my goals are not just to pay off my parents' debts. My goals are not just to pay for my Dad's choice of where he puts Mom in assisted living.

My goals are also to help you become more productive; to become a thought leader in the space of productivity.

But those are not really goals, are they?

Because what does it mean to say, "I help you become more productive" or "to be better at time management"? Those are kind of, they're not goals, they're like "it'd be nice to haves."

Goals need to be specific. 

I can specifically say "I have paid my Mom and Dad's debt off". I am paying my Mom's assisted living care costs". Those are specific.

Now, for example, let's say I want to have a hundred thousand downloads per episode of The Mark Struczewski Podcast. That's very measurable. Did I have a hundred thousand downloads per episode or did I not? 

Very specific. So when you create your goals, which again come from your why, you have to make very clear that they're measurable. 

We've all heard of SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. I somewhat believe in that but I think that you should have goals that are what Jim Collins wrote about in Built to Last: big, hairy, audacious goals. He's them BHAGs. 

You have to have goals that scare you to death. Keep you going. 

Now that we have our why. 

Now that we have our goals.

Now we can start planning.

So, what goes on your calendar?

Well, before you start planning your day, what I want you to do is think about "how many hours am I going to work tomorrow?" Or whatever day you're planning for?

You have to start there.

If you're going to work eight hours, now you reverse engineer and fill those eight hours.

The vast majority of time, it's going to vary by individual, the vast majority of your time should be on needle-moving activities.

Are you doing activities that are moving you towards your goals which are fulfilling your why?

Should you be on social media? If you're building a business, a brand, promoting a cause, absolutely.

But how long should you be on social media?

Once you figure that out, you need to put that on your schedule and stick to your plan.

Now when I plan my days, I plan in 50-minute increments. I use the 50/10 Pomodoro Technique. Which means, when at all possible, I will work for 50 minutes and then take 10 minutes off. I will go outside and play with the dog, maybe read, hang out with my wife, do something for ten minutes. 

So, 50 minutes of work, 10 minutes of rest, and relaxation. Maybe you do the traditional 25/5. Or 52/17. Or 45/15. Or 30/10.

Find a Pomodoro Technique that works well for you. 

When I'm planning my days, I plan my days in 50-minute chunks. 

But before I put something on my calendar, whether it's an electronic or a paper calendar, I ask myself, "what can I do that's going to move the needle?"

Obviously, the more eyeballs on my videos, the more ears that listen to The Mark Struczewski Podcast, the more people that read The Mark Struczewski Insider newsletter, the more people that follow me on YouTube and Linkedin, the more people I can help. Which means the more money I may make, which means I can fulfill my goals which means I can fulfill my why.

Is all this making sense to you now?

Start with your why.

If you don't know what your why is, here's what you do: get a notebook, don't do this electronically. Go get a notebook. You probably have one lying around your house. Go get something to write with. Go someplace quiet. No TV. Nobody talking. No music. No city jackhammering your front street. Someplace quiet.

I just want you to brainstorm. Everything. At the top write, "what is my why?"and just write and write and write and write. 

Now, this is going to happen in two stages. The first stage, you're going to have a whole bunch of ideas. And then you're going to think you're out of ideas. Don't quit now. Wait. And the ideas from your subconscious mind are going to come forward and that's where the gold is.

Discover your why.

And then once you have your why, start creating goals that are going to help you fulfill your why.

Once you have those two pieces in place, now you can start planning. Planning those needle-moving activities.

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