I used to struggle with planning. I actually used it as a procrastination technique. Of course I didn't realize that at the time, but when I looked back to see why I wasn't being productive, I realized that I was wasting a lot of time planning out tasks instead of actually getting them done. And to be honest, I felt very all over the place. Nothing felt organized in my business, and I felt clueless as to what I should actually be working on. It all came down to the fact that I wasn't planning effectively.
I completely changed my process and started planning for just a quarter at a time. In my opinion, it's really not realistic to plan out your whole year. Life happens, things change. You don't want to have to constantly be re-planning (hello, procrastination), so I've found it's best to stick to a quarter at a time. And hey, I have WAY less time to work now that I'm a Momma, but I am also WAY more productive than I've ever been. It works! Here's how to do it -
1. Determine your goals and projects for the quarter
Here's where you'll want to look at the big picture. What goals do you want to accomplish for the quarter? And what specific projects need to get done? Projects can be client projects, but also projects for your business - a website relaunch, brand photos, etc.
Make sure you're being realistic. Remember, this is only one quarter out of four for the year. Don't set yourself up for failure by trying to accomplish too much. I recommend choosing 1-3 goals and 1-3 projects to focus on.
2. Break down each goal and project and assign tasks
What's it going to take to accomplish each project and goal? How much time do you need to put aside? These are the things you'll want to think about when you're breaking down your goals and projects for the quarter. You will also want to assign specific tasks to each. This way, when you're ready to plan out your weeks and months, you know exactly what needs to get done.
3. Plan out one month at a time
It's easy to want to get ahead of yourself and plan out each individual month in the quarter, especially since you broke things down into specific tasks. I'm going to advise you NOT to do this. Like we talked about before, life happens, things change. It's much more effective to plan out just one month at a time.
Plan out the month ahead of you and choose which tasks you're going to accomplish this month to work towards your goals. Remember, you have 3 months per quarter. Don't try to jam too much into one month. Be realistic with yourself and think about what you'll actually be able to accomplish. I know it might seem like you're selling yourself short or not giving yourself enough to work on, but I promise, you're going to be so much more productive when you're not overwhelmed. I know from experience!
If it feels good to you, break things down a little further and assign your monthly tasks into weeks. I like to create a desktop calendar for myself that I update each work day. It has all my tasks for the month broken down into each week, and if something doesn't get done, I just move it to the next workday. It's easy, keeps me on "schedule" and doesn't make me feel like crap if I didn't get something done. I simply just move the task!
And there ya go! That's how to effectively plan out your quarter in 3 simple steps.
I happen to have a Quarterly Planning Template for sale that uses the above method! You can easily customize it for your business and hold yourself accountable this quarter.
Will you try this method of planning? Let me know in the comments below!