Happy New Year!
I was a little surprised that the link to Depak Chopra’s “7 Times” to include in your day was almost as popular. It is quite simple, fundamental and easy to include in a daily routine, so I guess that’s the appeal.
Please read on for more information, tips and resources on making sure your plans and process is maximized for 2016.
Planning is Paramount for Success
Arguably the last quarter of the year is the best time to plan for the new year, however if you have not planned out your year yet, its not too late. I can’t stress how crucial planning is when promoting your project, business, region or destination. Lewis Carroll famously wrote in Alice in Wonderland “If you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there”. The three keys to planning are to have clearly defined objectives, understand what resources you have available and know your timelines. Everything else typically falls into place when those components are in order and managed.
After 30 years of planning this is what I have learned. A year is a long time to plan for and longer than that is somewhat futile. Especially in todays rapid fire, digital speed world. I think it is a good idea to have high level plans and some specific goals for those longer term horizons, after that I wouldn’t get in to too much detail.
Planning is the third step in my 9 Step Formula for Marketing Success. If you are looking to improve your marketing you can download a copy of my “Cheat Sheet” for free here.
What’s the biggest trend for 2016? Multi-tasking is out and short bursts of focused and concentrated effort is in.
The people I most admire, plan 90 days out – this is a tangible realistic time frame, from which to plan, execute and succeed. Yes, have a one year plan and perhaps a 2-3 year higher level strategic plan. Personally I believe the 5 year plan has out lived is usefulness. Having long term goals is another thing and you should have them. But for now let’s stick with the short term.
90 Day Letter to Myself
My friend Scott Oldford does something called a “90 Day Letter to Myself”. This is a great idea, basically you create categories of importance such as, health, finance, relationships, etc… and you write a letter to yourself on what you are going to achieve in each of those areas over the next 90 days. You get quite specific on your goals, why they matter and how you are going to achieve them with specific numbers and time frames. Then you seal it, plan accordingly and reflect back in 90 days. Click here for a free template to write your own 90 day letter. I went one step further and broke my letters down to 30 days each to keep me focused. I found this extremely helpful. Scott’s letter is geared towards entrepreneurs and the whole person vs. just a business plan or project. The letter idea is easily modified to suit your particular purpose.
Todd Herman:90 Day Year and 2 Weeks of Focused Implementation
Many other business people I look up to and follow have variations on the 90 day theme. Todd Herman, a high performance coach, says 90 days offers the ability to manifest and manage: Focus, Fast Growth and Momentum, which is hard to argue. He refers to a study by USC Mind & Society Center that proved goals beyond 90 days increases the level of procrastination and that a study by Ludwig and Gheller showed that without the feedback loop of short term goals, motivation immediately drops off.
Todd goes one step further and suggests breaking your 90 day plan into two week chunks of execution and deliverables is the key to success. This makes a ton of sense to me and I don’t think it needs to be complicated. Simply detail your 90 day plan, map out your first two weeks into detailed actions and expected deliverables. As you progress and at the end of each two week period check in on your results and progress. Modify your plans based on your successes and sketch out the next two week implementation plan and make sure you have the following two week’s plan detailed and ready to go. This kind of feedback loop keeps you motivated. Here is a link to his video and his web-site.
The Pomodoro Technique: 25 Minutes of focused bursts of work
From there you want to breakdown your next two weeks into daily tasks. I’ve been following a daily system that is working really well for me. It’s called the Pomodoro Technique. The idea behind it is that you spend short bursts of focused energy and attention on a specific tasks, take a short break and then spend another short burst. The bursts should last around 25 minutes and the breaks around 5 minutes. The idea is that you set a timer and focus on that task and only that task. I use the timer on my iPhone. During this time, you don’t check your e-mail, take calls, chat to co-workers or check Facebook etc.. you just focus on the task. I’ve been doing this for about 6 weeks now and I can tell you I am much more focused and productive. Click here to get this free 30 page super quick read and guide to getting up and running in 10 minutes or less.
After each burst, you take a 5 minute break. This is a great time to get a coffee, tea or water, stretch your legs, check e-mails or Facebook, etc… I work at home so I exercise in between – doing yoga stretches, pull ups and weights. I have a short attention span for strength training so these short beaks are perfect for me.
The way Pomodoro works is that you schedule for 40 Pomodoro’s per week, 8 per day 16.67 hours per week. The rest of the time is for meetings, making calls, following up on e-mails, and doing other work as required. But during those 16.67 hours per week you stay laser focused. Give it a try, it’s quite easy to implement. I think you will be surprised how much more productive you will become. Your work work gets prioritized and done and there is still a lot of time to deal with meetings, calls and other work.
By following Pomodoro, you will also have eliminated multi-tasking and jumping from one project to another, which is a real productivity killer. Todd Herman’s studies indicate that we loose 20% of our time and efficiency when we switch from one project to another and that the productivity loss is cumulative. When when you switch to project 2 from project 1, you loose 20% of your time switching gears and then when you switch to project 3 you loose another 20% of your time again for a total of 40% of your time and so on. This makes a whole lot of sense to me. So the key is to focus for short bursts as recommended in Pomodoro and stack 2-3 -4 or more 25 minute bursts with small breaks in between one until one project or task is finished. This is when you become the most productive. Here is Todd’s chart outlining the cost of switching gears.
Depak Chopra: 7 Times to Include in Your Day
To top it off and to take a more holistic approach, I blend in a little Depak Chopra into my daily routine. Depak recommends 7 Daily “Times” such as physical (exercise) time, focus (work) time, etc… to be part of your daily routine. I usually fall short on 1 or 2 but I am able to blend the rest into my days seamlessly as they are part of a productive day. Click Here to get a free PDF of the list of 7 Time’s that are part of a holistic day.
Finally, be aware that nothing is permanent and things, everything and anything can change in a minute’s time. So while things may or may not be going to plan. They can change for the better in particular. All you have to do is plan and take action and steer your ship in the right direction.
Planning is the third step in my 9 Step Formula for Marketing Success. You can download a copy of my “Cheat Sheet” for free here.
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Let me know if you have any projects you need help getting started on in 2016.
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