Systems to keep me in balance and harmony

In January I attended a group strategy session. I didn’t need to go. My year was already planned. I went to see a different system, I went for the community.

What I got out of the experience was the realization that many people do not follow a process to keep themselves on track. Most people, don’t know how to build a plan and when they do start, they find it overwhelming. Yet, when they push through the fear, the overwhelm, they all felt empowered!

In our, soon to be released, course, we will be going through how to build a plan, how to use the plan, and how to stay accountable for that plan. We will do this in detail in the course. However, if you need something now, here is a high-level view of my process.

  • Annually, I start by scheduling my planning sessions in my calendar. I plan quarterly full-day planning sessions for my husband and me. I then schedule any other big things in the year. Such as industry conferences (likely on Zoom now), vacation, etc.
  • I then set my goals for myself for the next year.
  • I then break the goals into 4 quarters.
  • I add any major goals, such as launch dates, into my calendar
  • Based on those launch dates and those goals, I plan, in detail the steps to accomplish those goals for the current quarter.

The above would complete my first planning session.

Until the next quarter, I follow my plan. If anything new comes like an idea, an opportunity, etc. I put it in a parking lot list for review at the next planning session. If it is something that is time-sensitive, I then look at it during my weekly review. I’ll talk about that in a second.

Each month, I start with a review of the prior month to determine what is working and what is not. I make any tweaks as needed to my processes. I then plan out what I want to get done for the current month. For this plan, I look at my recurring activities as well as my planned projects.

Each week, Fridays, I do an accountability check-in with my team. This includes a check-in on the things I said I would get done and a check-in on my big quarterly goals. The goal is to check in and see if I am on track. It is here that I will assess any time-sensitive items that need a decision. I look at these by reviewing my mission/vision, goals, and objectives. The whole purpose of the review is to ensure I don’t get distracted by something shiny. Yet also give me the ability to make changes to my plan if it is the right thing. I then plan out the next week, pulling from my calendar and my monthly to-do list. I also do a review of what worked for the week and what didn’t. Finally, I set my intentions for the next week.

Daily, I do gratitude, I let go of anything that is bugging me, and then I plan my day. Moving those weekly goals into daily tasks. I also set my intention to at least accomplish my top 3 goals for the day.

Once I arrive at the next quarterly planning session, I do a review of where I am and review the goals set at the start of the year to ensure they still make sense. I also review the parking lot items to see if anything takes priority. I finish by planning in detail what I plan to accomplish over the next 90 days.

That’s it. Annual planning, quarterly planning, monthly planning, weekly planning, and daily planning.

If you have never done it before, it sounds like a lot. It’s not. A quarterly planning session for one company only takes a couple of hours and weekly it’s 15 minutes. Daily 5 minutes. The first time you do it, it may take you longer but then you get into a rhythm. It’s also important to note, that each process isn’t much different than the other, they are just different focused bites of time. Annual to quarterly to monthly to weekly to daily chunks of time. The process of review and plan is relatively the same for each time chunk. The idea isn’t to be difficult or complex but to be easy and create an easy to follow the plan of action.

The first reaction of a lot of people is it seems overly structured and rigid. It’s not. I’m checking in every step of the way and making tweaks to my processes, my priorities. However, the best part is that I ALWAYS know what to work on next to move my business forward. This clarity, this direction, reduces my overwhelm, keeps me focused on the right activities, and best of all, keeps my mind clear so I can do the creative work I want to do.

At Acuity Path, we strongly believe that processes and systems help bring clarity to your work because you have planned what and how. You have also ensured it aligns with your overall mission/vision. The process allows you to focus on delivering the best product or service you can. Isn’t that why we all became entrepreneurs?

We also believe that this process is more effective when we have accountability. This is why we have accountability groups and we schedule group planning sessions. There is no need to do all of this alone.

I’d love to know what you do differently and what you have found works for you. I’d also love to hear your reaction to this process.

“Systems and processes are essential to keep the crusade going, but they should not replace the crusade.”

Simon Sinek