A method for saving the one thing we cannot make more of...
That is TIME. We all get 525,600 minutes in a year. No more, no less. For most people, planning doesn’t come naturally and it’s hard to make time to plan. We are all caught in the whirlwind. There are hundreds of emails, conference calls and meetings which creates a tactical, reactive environment, blocking strategic execution and making it difficult to achieve anything new.
In Entrepreneur, Tim Berry, Author and Chairman of Palo Alto Software said, “Planning is about managing resources and priorities in an organized way.” Resources can mean just you and your own time or it can be for a larger group. Priorities can be the client’s priorities, the organization’s priorities or even your own.
We recognize everyone should do it, but so few actually do. It’s a tough cycle to escape. It can be hard. There are things you know and things you don’t know. There are dependencies and sequences. Many things are urgent and many more that are important. Where to start?
As a process person and project management expert, I love planning. I know it saves me time, it helps me be organized and get things done, and it helps others get things done, too.
And I have a secret to share with you about how I start every plan.
You read it correctly. Post-it notes. Don’t give up on the idea yet.
I have stacks of multi-colored post-it notes. They can be used at my desk, in a conference room, or at a co-working space. There is an example below, but first - here is how and why it works:
Creativity: Though I'm a huge fan of technology, it can sometimes get in the way of creativity. You have outlook tasks, project tasks, CRM tasks and collaboration tools. Some tasks are big, some are really big, and some occasionally aren’t so big. Even planning tools alone, such as a virtual post-it note board, require team members to be assigned or are just too restrictive to get started. They force you to think about hierarchy and order for tasks that possibly don’t need to be figured out at the moment.
Brainstorming: Teams can work together and all have simultaneous input jotting down ideas or tasks. Individual ideas, no matter how large or small in scope or amount of detail, get captured. It is easy because there are no restrictions. You don’t have to figure out at this stage exactly what you’re going to say or who needs to do what.
Organizing: It is difficult to arrange things where there is a large number of things to plan and you don’t know what they are yet. But after all the ideas are captured, they can be rearranged, grouped and organized logically much more easily.
Visualizing: Once Post-it notes are organized, gaps start to emerge. It is much easier to identify what may be missing because you can focus on just one section. Bigger pieces can be broken down into smaller ones. When all of the other things are set aside, you (and/or the team) can zoom in on the next section.
Sharing: A simple photo transfers organized post-it notes to an electronic file, shared over email or text.
Executing: Now that there are clear work items, they can be entered quickly into a tool or organized template to be executed.
Example: A couple of weeks ago, our team was working on building a new process. We used the post-it note planning process to capture ideas and stuck them on the wall. As soon as we had some started, it was easy to see that there were some related to the goals and objectives, some related to things that needed to be done (both questions and tasks), and others that were related but not really in the scope of what we were trying to do. At that point, we had 3 buckets and organized the ideas into those. We started with the first bucket, arranging and prioritizing which helped identify missing pieces and generate other ideas. More post-it notes were added to the board. At the end of the meeting, we had the process completed, mapped out and snapped a quick picture. It was simple to scribe in a document and share with the rest of the team.
Planning is a critical component of success. It ensures that you won’t waste your time, the team’s time, or your client’s. Related article: I Don’t Have Time… For That!
Everyone can benefit from simple ways to plan better. So, if you’re finding yourself stuck on where to start, grab some post-it notes.
Templates for planning all types of sales, recruiting, account management and leadership activities are provided in Butler Street’s live training and eLearning programs. Contact us to take your planning and success to the next level!