I love it when a plan comes together. HANNIBAL SMITH, The A-Team (TV series)
Planning helps you find a way to move from where you are to where you want and need to be.
Here are a few tips and tricks to make the process even more productive.
Work in a large format instead of on your computer or a sheet of letter-sized paper. Use flip charts, white boards, poster boards, foamcore, the walls or doors. They all work, and sometimes, this large-scale approach helps you more readily see the big picture.
Use different colored Post-Its or index cards for each major outcome, along with the related goals and tasks, if you’re visually oriented (and most of us are).
Set a timer or define a fixed timeframe for your first pass through the process. Be reasonable. A chunk of 2-4 hours will give you a healthy start toward roughing out your plan. Continue to block out comparable chunks, until your plan is more fully developed.
Work your strengths. Process and step-by-step thinkers, for example, tend to favor a top-down approach. If this sounds like you, tackle Tier 1 – Outcomes then systematically flesh out Tier 2 – Goals and Tier 1 – Outcomes.
Shift your focus, if you're struggling, and work from the bottom up. First tackle Tier 3 – Tasks, and document things you know you must do or want to do. Then tackle Tier 2 – Goals and Tier 1 – Outcomes.
Be simple, direct and clear at every stage. Define who owns each task, goal and outcome. Specify dates and measurements that reflect reality. Doubling sales by March 30 looks lovely on paper, but is it realistic?
Avoid falling into an endless planning loop, where you never have quite enough time, clarity or data to finalize your plan. A plan that’s only 80% complete is generally better than no plan at all.
Accept it. No plan survives its encounter with reality, so as soon as you begin to implement it, it will evolve and change.
The (almost) Painfree Action Planning mini-series is far from exhaustive, but hopefully it's served its purpose.
Planning helps you think big thoughts, then convert them into specific targets and concrete actions. It helps you spot potential obstacles and sometimes find the easiest path around those obstacles. It helps you set priorities and confront each day with greater confidence, because you're positioned to compete.
Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?
The Truth about Planning
Painfree Action Planning: Overview
Painfree Action Planning: Core Elements
Painfree Action Planning: 5 Pitfalls
Strategy | Where's Your Sweet Spot? (series)