Monday, March 12, 2012

Normal Service Is Being Resumed...

Have you ever had times where you're convinced that there's some sort of fiendish plot to keep you from achieving your goals?

Me too. In fact, every single time I try to build a business that will fulfil my ambitions and goals, my family or my work life conspire to derail my progress.

You couldn't make this up - since I decided to stick to a 90 day plan and dual-blog:

- A second car has had to be replaced at short notice. My first was in October 2011, courtesy of a charming woman who ran into the back of me, gave me false details and then disappeared, leaving me with a written-off  Volvo. So I bought my partner's car off him with the insurance payout and that promptly threw part of its gearbox linkage within 10 weeks. I'm now driving a carpeted Transit Van (aka a VW Sharan) that drinks fuel.

- My partner decided to live in Rugby from Monday night to Thursday morning, because it's more convenient when he's decided to do a Masters degree in London to have a personal taxi service that is prepared to pick him up after 11pm and drop him off at the station before I go to work. Oh, and have a housekeeping service that provides him with breakfast, sandwiches, does his washing, loses his socks, etc. After a discussion where, apparently, it's my fault if I'm late for work because I'm not getting up earlier and managing the family better, he's decided to spend the next two weeks in West Oxfordshire, to sort out his tax returns and write his essays. I presume the wild-eyed, manic Harpy that dropped him off at the station at the end of that discussion may have had something to do with it...

- My eldest son has decided to move back in, with all the hassle that entails. I need to convert my office/music space back into a bedroom, move furniture into other rooms, etc. All whilst doing a full-time job, a two hour commute and failing to run a Kleeneze business.

- My mother is having serious kidney problems, which mean we're now stuck with a cycle of visits to GPs, specialists, etc. I'm scared it's kidney failure this time - her legs are swelling up and she seems to be permanently on antibiotics.

- Then there's this year's flu, which knocked me out for several weeks. I haven't felt this weak and lethargic since I had glandular fever in my early 20s.

All in all, it's been an interesting 90 days. Something had to give, and that was the blogging. However, I'm already drafting the next 90-day plan, whilst sticking to the remains of my original one to give me some forward momentum. 90-day plan blogging will re-commence in two weeks.

Monday, January 09, 2012

90 Day Plan - Day 9: Culling the To-Do List

How big is your daily to-do list? The one with all the things you meant to do the day (or week) before but never seem to get around to?

If you've got a short, punchy to-do list, then congratulations. You get to sit back and feel smug for the rest of this chat.

For the rest of us, the ones who have to juggle a full day's work with travel, parenting and the pretence of having other activities, today's focus is on culling the herd of things clamouring for your attention.

At the end of today, after your planned activity, look at your to-do list. As we've discussed before, prioritisation is the key to control, so mark on your list the number of days those activities have been carried forward.

If any of them are marked 7 or higher, ask yourself if you are ever going to do that particular activity? No? Then draw a line through it and forget it.

Repeat for anything 5 days old and over.

Is your list more manageable yet?

Now go back through the list and prioritise as usual. This time, however, you're going to detail one small action you can take for any item that has sat on your list for 3 days or more.

And tomorrow, make sure you do those small actions first.

All of a sudden, you'll find you are less resistant to actioning those old items. You might even get motivated enough to fully complete one or two. When you do, remember to reward yourself.

Finish off by asking yourself those two important questions:

What am I proud of today? What can I improve on, tomorrow?

Sunday, January 08, 2012

90 Day Plan - Day 8: Building On Week 1's Efforts

With your first week's activity behind you, now is the time to build the momentum that's going to get you achieving the goals you set earlier.

Just like last week, action is the key to success. So take your plan and your to-do list and get moving.

Take the opportunity to remind your family and friends of what you'll be focussing on over the next few days, too. They'll forget otherwise and prioritising their less-urgent needs could derail your progress rather nicely.

I'm not talking about missing school events or avoiding pre-arranged meetings with the in-laws here, by the way. Those should blocked out on your calendar already, as should 'quality time' with your family. But does your child really need you to drop everything and get the latest toy for them?

Remember to review and track your activity before the end of the day and ask yourself those questions:

What am I proud of today? What can I do to improve tomorrow?

Well done! 8 days in and you're going strong.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

90 Day Plan - Day 7: The First Weekly Review

By now, you've completed your first 7 days of your 90-day plan and you should have 7 days of tracking to show for it.

What does that tracking tell you?

- Are you sticking to your plan?

- Are you slipping behind?

- Are you doing better than expected?

Whatever the results of your tracking, there are three things to remember right now:

Don't get complacent and start slacking off. You'll lose all the momentum you're creating before it's had a chance to take effect.

Don't beat yourself up if Life! got in the way. You're working towards goals, not trying to win the marathon tomorrow. Get back on track and work the plan.

Don't allow yourself to make excuses. If you haven't been doing enough to work towards your goals, then don't let yourself off easily. Clear the decks, stop playing computer games instead of working and quit procrastinating. Just do it.

Of course, if your plan is completely unsustainable in terms of time and effort, you'll need to make changes. But not in the first week. Look at your tracking, map out what extra effort you need to put in for the next 7 days and add that to your to-do list and plan.

As always, ask yourself:

What am I proud of today? What can I improve on tomorrow?

Write those things down. Place them somewhere prominent - on your desk, next to your wallplanner; wherever you are likely to look and take notice.

Now congratulate yourself - you've completed the first week of a 90-day plan. You're part of a very rare breed!

Friday, January 06, 2012

90-Day Plan - Day 6: The Importance of Tracking

All successful people track their behaviour and performance. It's how they know whether they are improving or not.

Your business success depends on how you track your activity. Too much detail and you will waste time you could be spending on getting new sales, new contacts and new team members. Too little? You'll have no idea where you've tried to expand your business or what the results really were.

Tracking needs to be done at the end of each day as a bare minimum. If you can do it as you are going along, even better. A simple notebook that you take along with you is all you need; you can transfer the information to your tracking sheets later.

If you aren't completely convinced about the benefits of tracking yet, try this simple exercise:

List every single thing you eat and/or drink for three days, together with the time and date.

You'll be surprised. It might even encourage you to track other parts of your life as well.

As always, finish today off with the questions:

What am I proud of today? What can I improve on, tomorrow?

Don't forget to track your dietary habits!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

90-Day Plan - Day 5: Baby Steps

You've prepared, planned and practised for all of 5 days now - surely there's something special to show for all your hard work?

If you're amazingly lucky, yes. For the rest of us, we need to remember that we are still taking the baby steps that will one day allow us to run that marathon in record time.

This is a 90-day plan, not a 7-day plan.

Today is the day for putting your half-week review changes into action. Then getting on with the baby steps.

Remember to track what you do, or don't do!

Finish off with asking yourself:

What am I proud of today? What can I improve on, tomorrow?

And remind yourself - every successful business owner started off small once.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

90-Day Plan - Day 4: Half-Week Review

So you're half-way through the first week of your 90-day plan? Congratulations! That's 3 days further than 80% of those who started. Mind you, 79% of all statistics are made up ...

How has your plan gone so far? Tonight, after doing all of your plan and to-do list activities, take 10 minutes out to look back on the first few days. Be honest with yourself about where you have let yourself down, but also make sure that your plan is working.

Are you tracking everything you are doing?

Are you doing everything you planned?

If not, why not?

As always, finish the day with those two key questions:

What am I proud of today? What can I improve on, tomorrow?

Well done on getting this far.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

90 Day Plan - Day 3: Creating the Routine

How do you master anything? Practice.

And how do you master practising? By building your routine until it becomes second nature.

This is what a 90-day plan is all about - creating and building a routine until it becomes a habit.

The secret is in how we practice. If we're aiming to be consistently a little better than we were yesterday, we're on the right track. We're not aiming to be perfect today.

When we practice our 90-day plan, we should be paying attention to the way we are doing it, rather than on the outcome. Yes, we're working to achieve an outcome, and we've set SMART goals, but we designed our plan to reach those goals in 90 days, so we don't need to obsess about them today.

We practice to get better at what we are doing, be it finding and retaining customers, delivering catalogues or leaflets, generating leads or building a team.

Needless to say, if we don't do the activity listed on our plan and daily to-do list, we won't be getting better; we'll be slipping downwards and backwards. It's better to see this as practicing to improve rather than a plan where every step has to be perfect straight away.

That way, you've taken the pressure off - it's nowhere near as scary if you're "just practising".

As always, finish your day with a to-do list for tomorrow, and write down the answers to these questions:

What am I proud of today? What can I improve on, tomorrow?

Happy practicing!

Monday, January 02, 2012

90 Day Plan - Day 2: Improving on your first efforts

After the euphoria of actually finishing your first day of a 90-day plan, what's next?

If you're anything like me, your to-do list is longer than it should be, due to Life! and other circumstances. It would be easy to look at your plan, look at the to-do list and start getting negative thoughts.

Don't let yourself slip.

You are building up momentum at present - you don't want the momentum to be downwards or sidewards.

Take 30 minutes to review your plan and your to-do list and then prioritise your activity. First write a 1, 2 or 3 against every item on both your daily plan and your to-do list. 1s are extremely important to move your business forward. 2s are important, but not essential. 3s are everything else.

Now look at the items marked with a 1. Prioritise those in order of how much that activity will move your business towards your goals and targets.

Now go and do those activities in order of priority. When you've cleared all of those tasks, go back and do the next set of prioritisation with the items marked with a 2. Then and only then, move on to the 3s.

If necessary, and you've run out of day, move any remaining activities to Day 3. For your own peace of mind, make sure you carry forward less tasks than you started Day 2 with.

Again, finish the day with writing down the answers to the following:

What am I proud of today? What can I do to improve tomorrow?

And pat yourself on the back; you've reached the end of Day 2 and you're still moving forward!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

90 Day Plan - Day 1

New Year, New Plan.

Harking back to my post on creating your plan, you should have daily detail, weekly detail, monthly and 90 day overviews.

So you know what you should be doing on day 1.

Go do it.

When you've done each action, get out the associated tracking sheet and track it.

When you get to the end of your day, you need to spend 30 minutes on reviewing the day's activities and preparing tomorrow's to-do list that totals up any additional tasks you need to complete alongside tomorrow's planned activity.

Pin that to-do list on the wall next to your planner.

Now ask yourself:

What am I proud of today? What can I improve on tomorrow?

Write those things down. Place them somewhere prominent - on your desk, next to your wallplanner; wherever you are likely to look and take notice.

Now smile - you've completed the first day of a 90-day plan. Most people don't even get that far!