By Caroline Creedon
How often are you stopped in your tracks because you’ve just been hit with what you think is a brilliant idea?
Those great ideas can come from anywhere, at any time, but more often than not, they become a distraction from the work you really need to focus on.
So, how do we stop ourselves from getting distracted every time the genius hits?
Preload your calendar.
I know that sounds so simple, but there’s a little more to it. The point is, if we have things lined up for ourselves already, we can always bring our attention back to that original lineup – one that’s been thoughtfully planned and prioritized (not plucked from thin air of all our many “great ideas”).
Scheduling your next steps puts you in the driver’s seat and keeps you there. I’m not saying you need to be a control freak, but you do need to stay in control of the plans for your business and the future of that business. Whether that pathway leads to profit, expansion, or somewhere else, it’s up to you to decide where you’re going and to keep yourself and your team on track.
Now, are you ready to crush the year ahead?
The first step is deciding what you want to preload into your calendar. What are those milestones or targets you need to preload and stick to?
Preloading your calendar all comes down to six essential principles:
Cashflow follows your calendar.
- There’s a saying that the best way to predict the future is to create it. This principle simply means that the amount of money you’re going to generate in your business is a direct result of what you do and when. So instead of bouncing around like a pinball machine full of great ideas, stick to your plan and stay true to your own process. Imagine yourself as a steam engine on the track, full speed ahead.
- When you know what your year ahead is going to look like, you don’t need to waste time rehashing changing possibilities throughout the year. You simply buckle down and map everything out once, then follow the plan almost effortlessly. Of course, if things change a little along the way, that’s fine. Roll with the punches. But it’s the commitment to your own process that’s going to get you where you want to be.
- Now, pause here for a minute. You can achieve an enormous amount when you preload things into your calendar in the right order. Have you heard of the stone/pebble/sand analogy? Simply put, if you try to fill a jar with sand first, then pebbles, then rocks, you won’t have enough room for everything. But if you switch things around and fill the jar with rocks first, then pebbles, the sand will fill in all the crevices at the end.
- Think of your calendar as an empty jar. Slot your big-ticket items in first, then fill in the rest based on their impact.
Milestone the moneymaking
- What are the big moneymakers (the rocks) in your business? How often do you do them?
- Great. That’s your first step to crushing this year. Load those moneymakers into your calendar now, whether they’re daily, weekly, or monthly, all the way through to the end of the year.
Find your freedom
- We often hear the phrase “work-life balance,” and while no one’s going to argue its importance, it’s important to consider the concept from another approach: work-life harmony. It’s not just about balance, it’s about finding ways to sync everything, both in business and beyond. Keep going with your annual map and lock in your holidays and free time. I don’t mean you need to have your flights to Bali booked or your nephew’s birthday party scheduled, but consider how often you want to work and set boundaries to guarantee yourself some work-free time. Do this weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly.
The pebble process
- The pebbles in your jar are the things your clients expect from you. These are the things you deliver to every client on a regular basis. From checkpoints in a client contract to regular service sessions, lock in the time in your calendar to account for all these pebbles.
Sift the sand
- Allocate some time for all the little things that happen behind the scenes to keep you running smoothly. Maybe these are professional development days, maybe they’re personal commitments. Either way, time spent on you all adds up to the grains of sand that fill in all the gaps to make your empty jar full.
Okay so now, you’ve got your entire year mapped out. What’s next? Do a stress test. Ask yourself the following two questions:
First: If I live my life and run my business according to the plan I’ve just set out, will it get me where I want to be?
Second: Will this plan kill me?
If you’ve answered yes to the first question, and no to the second, you’re ready to go!
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