Around this time of year I start to do two things.
- Panic about the year having gone by SO quickly,
- Convince myself that next year I will plan better, do more, and basically magically turn into a hyper productive unicorn of business awesomeness.
In order to achieve aim #2, I find some time (literally I’m talking 10-15 minutes, which is about how long my attention span lasts these days) and my calendar and start to broadly work out what my next year is going to look like. Nothing is set in stone but it helps to declutter my brain a bit and often leaves me thinking about projects I’d like to take on or opportunities I might be able to seek out. Later this year (or let’s be honest, probably early next year) I’ll get way more serious about planning but for now this basic planning is a major help to my business.
I based this method on the “big rocks” time management concept by Dr Steven Covey. The gist of it is, imagine you have a jar you need to fill with various sizes of rocks. In order to make it all fit in, you have to start by putting in the big rocks, then the medium ones, then the small ones, and eventually you fill in the blank space with pebbles. If you tried to do it the other way, the big rocks (AKA important stuff you cannot avoid) would get left out.
Here’s how I go about it. First, I procrastinate by making a hot drink, grabbing a cookie (or three), playing on Facebook, watching a Buzzfeed video and getting in a few rounds of a game on my phone. Then I grab a calendar for next year and I:
1) Mark out the days/dates/months where I have family, religious or other personal commitments which cannot be moved. You know, like birthdays, weddings etc. I start with PERSONAL things (not business things) because for me those will always be higher in priority. Also: VACATION TIME should be going in that calendar!
2) Now I look at the business stuff. I put in the non negotiable business stuff which is date related. For me that’s things like launching a class or publishing a book, for you that might be related to marketing and promotional things like Mothers Day promotions and wedding fairs or attending a show or entering a competition.
3) Then I look at my list of stuff which I have to do (or really want to do) but which is not date dependant and put that into the calendar (for example, teaching classes). I make some rough decisions about when that’s going to happen. I also consider seasons and culture. As an example, no point to me teaching in Australia in January, as the country goes to sleep that month (we’re all too busy on the beach.) So if you own a small bakery, you might include here some things like – launch new product line, revamp website. Important things which technically can be done at any time of year…but if they don’t go in the calendar, you and I both know you’ll be scrambling to make them fit in later.
4) Allocate space for at least 2-3 new projects in between that stuff that was non-negotiable. This is something we don’t prioritize and we SHOULD. It’s so hard to find time for the fun stuff and if we just waited for the right time, or the day week when business is slow, it’ll never happen. Unless you plan for it, nothing will happen other than these cool ideas will gather dust on the shelf of your brain. We don’t want that to happen. We want to bring the cool stuff out into the light of day.
5) Drink a Slurpee to make myself feel better about how overwhelming that all looks.
Before you know it, the entire year ahead is already filled…and that’s before you’ve really considered any current orders on the books or orders which you know will come. The purpose of this isn’t to overwhelm you, it’s to organise you enough so that you START the year feeling like you’ve got a handle on things. So often we procrastinate, leave stuff around till it’s too late, or whine and moan about how the year has gone so fast and we’ve done none of the things we want to. Having this basic overview really helps me to get all that under control and I hope it helps you too!