Failing to plan? Here’s how to start plan properly

I HAVE a client – very successful retail marketing start-up, who have had an ‘interesting’ and challenging road to becoming the successful company they are now, and I am proud to have been supporting them throughout this period.

They now need to focus on future planning because as Benjamin Franklin said ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. This has been recognised and I have been asked to help develop the teams time management and planning tools.

I can vouch for the importance of this as a business owner who actually puts time aside every week to sit down, review the past week and plan for the next. It’s not an onerous task; it takes 30 minutes tops usually and is often oiled by a wee glass of wine but boy oh boy does my business benefit from it.

So why do we often fail to plan?   Is it because we can’t be bothered, we claim to have no time, we do make a plan but never write it down or because we are so focused on the task at hand we forget there are steps and milestones to getting there?

Imagine if you will for a moment treating your summer holiday (Task) in the same manner. You throw a load of random things into a suitcase; you load that into the car and drive off? But is the car the right way to get there? (Systems) Have you your swimsuit, or coat even? (Equipment/Resources) Do you know where you are going? (Direction) or how long it will take? (Timing) Do you need your passport (Instruction), and do you have enough money to get there? (Financials). You’re starting to get the picture now.

You don’t know what you are trying to do, where you are going or how to get there. You got too impatient and just jumped in. Great if you are a thrill seeker and beholden only to yourself; less so if you are a team leader driving a large team towards a goal or an operations manager in charge of a complicated production line.

Brian Tracy’s book Eat that Frog – Get more of the important things done today! talks about time management and planning being taking control of a sequence of events. He comments that although it may take a tremendous energy to overcome the initial inertia and get going, it takes far less to keep it going – as I would attest as my weekly planning meeting is a habit now and just ‘happens’.

Tracy also has some ‘rules’ to help focus you on the planning:
Think on paper
Resist the temptation to do the small things first
Long term thinking improves short term decisions making
Future intent influences and often determines present actions
Your weakest key result area sets the height at which you can use all your other skills & abilities
There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do
Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field
You can get your time and your life under control only to the degree to which you discontinue lower value activities

And this is supported by a 7 step process

  • Decide exactly what you want (Task)
  • Write it down (System and/or Instruction)
  • Set a deadline (Timing)
  • Make a list of everything needed to achieve it (Equipment and Resources)
  • Organise that list into a plan (Direction)
  • Take action immediately
  • Resolve to do one thing at least on that plan every day

So you see you have the start of a plan here already!

Now I would just like to add one other tool here to help when making your list, and to keep your focus – ABCDE it. Divide the list into the following actions and then act accordingly on them.
A=Must do
B=Should do
C=Nice to do
D=Delegate it
E=Eliminate it
Ensure what you are doing is necessary and beneficial

So you can create an effective planning process to enable you to build a realistic business direction for the future and this in turn will greatly improve your chances of success.

If you too think you would benefit from planning and time management development or support contact us here or ask us a question on twitter @TrueHRLtd