As I write this, we’re heading to the mid point of the year and that inevitable shock that we’ve already reached June! What this speed of time passing can remind us of, is the need to plan well in our micro businesses so that the fast passing of time doesn’t accidentally undo our goals and hopes for the year.
So, whatever time of year you’re reading this, please know that these practical ideas and tips will really help towards the feeling of control, calm and progress.
My list is clearly not comprehensive but some great platforms or ideas to may try depending on what you need most.
A digital calendar has been a revolution in my life. The chance to colour code, add reminders & collaborate with clients and colleagues. I use Google which integrates with umpteen online platforms like Zoom, Calendly, Slack, Wordpress and more. Obviously it helps me stay organised during the week in terms of meetings and appointments but it has also allowed me to block out precious planning time, time for self care or time for writing etc. I colour code based on work projects and clients as well as personal items and key deadlines too. Other digital calendar options include Outlook, iCal and Team Up.
I LOVE a list and waiver between digital options and paper (check out some printable planners in the Member Hub). I like to use Trello as a great way to build lists that I can share with clients or keep private. The drag and drop option is a great way to prioritise tasks and add supplementary documents or information and I love the visuals. Trello also works great on mobile and can be used to plan content, projects or just your everyday 'to do' lists.
Prioritising is key in planning, so I like to have an ongoing 'now, soon, later' list. Usually as a paper, coloured in version on my office wall (but try Trello or perhaps Google Calendar tasks & reminders?). This urgency filtering allows me to un-muddle my brain and remember what's important to focus on at any one time. For example, the 'now' list might include invoicing, returning emails, accounting, updating online shops etc. The 'soon' list might include updating content planner, updating my website or adding new dates for events. The 'later' list might be setting goals for the later in the year, changing my website or developing new products and services.
Customers are key and without them, we have no businesses. Therefore, planning their journey regularly is a key planning tool. There are some fabulous online tools to help us do that, including Uxpressia, Smaply and Lucidchart. This is a great way to visualise how you need to prioritise your daily activities to ensure that your focus remains on the customer.
Sorting out your focus is an essential element for all planning of course! There is a brilliant book by Dr Amisha Jha called 'Peak Mind' that clearly describes the difference between attention, focus and concentration (listen to her interview on Brene Brown's 'Dare to Lead' podcast on Spotify for an overview) which really helped my finally believe the idea that 'multi tasking' ISN"T a thing. We can only pay attention, have focus and create concentration on purpose. it is a skill to nurture.
The final key element to good planning is, for me at least, quiet time. It isn't until we quieten the noise down that the ideas and creativity has a chance to land or develop in our minds. There are still many times that I don't find enough quiet time and quickly, planning begins to suffer. Quiet time means different things to different people (from meditation to doing the washing up without the radio!) but a top tip for me is to have a way of making notes to capture half thoughts or the flutter of an idea. This could be a notebook and pencil, a voice recorder on your phone or a note taker on your phone. If getting creative and tapping into your long held dreams is on the agenda for you, try Elizabeth Gilbert's book, 'Big Magic'.