3 Steps You Can Take Right Now to Plan for the Future of Your Business
Are you familiar with the Eisenhower Box? It's a framework to help focus your time and energy. The matrix covers important vs. not important and urgent vs. not urgent. The intent is to filter items that arise in your work day through this lens. From there, you know how to prioritize and respond. It's a brilliant concept, and I encourage you to read up on it here and here if you aren't familiar with the idea.
I bring up the Eisenhower Box because too many of us spend our days in the Not Important quadrant. You know what I'm talking about – constantly checking email, scrolling mindlessly through social media and the list goes on. Because you lose time to these unimportant tasks, you probably feel like you are always in reaction mode. You dream of being one of those fancy proactive-type folks, but the goal seems too lofty with all you have on your plate. But, trust me, these are 3 steps that you can take right now! If you do, you'll be taking major strides forward on planning for your future. Are you excited? You should be! You're on the verge of becoming one of those fancy, planner people!
Step 1. Stop bookmarking, start doing.
As a business owner, you're often absorbing a lot of information in a day. From reading industry articles to emails to customer questions, you feel like you can't keep up. But you know that all of this information is important. So you bookmark. And then you bookmark some more. And before you know it, you have 200+ tabs open in your browser and a bookmarked list so daunting that you just ignore it. Surely you'll have time during your vacation to get caught up on all of that reading, right?! No. Stop the madness.
While I'm a huge fan of bookmarking tools when used effectively, don't let them become your digital kitchen counter. You know what I'm talking about. Everyone has a spot in their home where junk mail, magazines, the occasional paper bill and birthday party invites all start to pile up. Your instinct is to make one big swiping motion towards the trash can, but you know you can't. There's important stuff in there. So don't do the same with your digital life.
When you see an article you want to read – read it! Right then. Take notes and keep moving. See how fast that was? The time you spent reading and processing it was a fraction of the time that it would spend on your to-do list mocking you. So, step 1, take action in the moment instead of burdening yourself with a never-ending reading list.
Step 2. Pick three things every Monday and complete them by Friday.
Mondays get a bad rap. And I get it. It can be rough returning to a structured pace from a relaxed weekend. But having a go-get-em-tiger attitude and a plan can help change your Monday morning perspective. So create a new Monday morning ritual – pick three things that you want to accomplish for that week and write them down. Don't focus on things like answering emails or getting that latest blog post published. Focus on things that will help you be proactive about the future of your business. Do you have a content plan? Have you automated any elements of your business? Who would you love to collaborate on a project with? Is there a conference you'd like to attend? Do you have a strategy for growing your audience? Think through what you want your business to look like in a year, and you'll easily be able to find three goals for the week. Then set a plan for how you make a dent in that goal over the next 5 days. Little by little, folks. Pro tip: The lovely folks over at Day Designer have a free printable that you can use to get started.
Step 3. Make it a business priority.
Everything you do in your business is your choice. How you spend your time. How much you charge. The clients you choose to work with. It's all up to you. So taking the time to plan for the future of your business is no different.
To truly change your habits from reactive to proactive, you have to make planning for the future a business priority. The same way you wouldn't shirk a client's project or forget to pay the bills, you shouldn't neglect to plan for your company's future. It's an old cliche by Ben Franklin but the adage holds true, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." While that may sound harsh, use it as a kick in your business pants to start planning for tomorrow.