So far in this series helping you to #Finish2020Strong, we have:
let go of the past, and dreamed big about what we want to achieve in the future
and thought about how we are going to keep ourselves accountable to achieving that goal.
Today is the final part in this series: how do we make sure we achieve our dream, by turning our goal into an effective Action Plan.
And this blog will help you do that, through a series of questions you can consider when developing your Action Plan.
Stage One - developing the Plan
What do you want to achieve?
After the work you’ve done in previous weeks, you will already have the answer to this! So it’s an easy place to start.
When you do you want to achieve it by?
That crucial element of any Plan: your DEADLINE. How long exactly, do you have to deliver your goal?
What are the individual steps you need to take to get there?
Brainstorm all the individual actions you need to take to achieve your goal.
What is your critical path?
Who do you need to do what by when in order to achieve your goal? There will always be things (resources/ information) you need before you can do other actions, so make sure those are really clearly mapped out.
Do you need a budget?
Is there going to be any cost associated with delivering this Plan? If so, do you have the financial wherewithal you need? If not, can you get it from somewhere, or do you need to change your goal?
What resources do you have available?
Is this just going to be you delivering this? Or do you have other support you can draw on: whether that’s technical expertise, admin resource, or new systems? And if you do need more support, can you spend anything from your budget to buy it in?
How long can you assign each action?
Now you know what you need to do, and in what order, and what you have available to help you achieve them. Working backwards from your deadline to the day you’re planning to start, define how long you can assign to delivering each step.
Stage Two - stepping back
Is that reasonable?
Do you have enough time to do all the things that need to be done in the time available? If not, can you increase the time/ reduce the actions/ increase the resources working on delivering the Plan
Are you clear about the priorities of the different actions?
Once you have worked out that all the actions are achievable in the time available, it is still a good idea to prioritise your actions. Some of them will be more crucial than others - and those are the ones that you will want to direct more of your focus towards, or make sure you do yourself.
What’s your One Thing?
What is the action that, when you do it, will make the biggest difference? Know what that is, and make sure you get it done early!
What’s your Frog?
There is always at least one thing on a project that we resist doing: either because it’s boring or because it’s difficult. Be self-aware: work out what that is. And make sure you build a specific time into your plan to get it done…
What could go wrong?
It’s always worth thinking about the things that could go wrong at the start - that way, you are either watching out for them so you can catch them early; or you can take action to mitigate them so they never happen. Think hard about possible risks…
Knowing yourself better than anyone else, how might YOU sabotage yourself?
We covered this briefly last week: again, self-awareness is key. If you’ve thought about it before you start, you can head it off from actually happening…
Stage Three - managing progress
Have you scheduled when you will be doing what, to best effect?
Two really powerful techniques to consider: time-blocking, and knowing your best Deep Work time. Time-blocking is using your calendar to schedule in exactly what you will be doing when. This will make sure that you do the actions you need to, by the deadline.
“Deep Work" is the real value-added thinking element of your Plan. The process is similar: you choose to schedule Deep Work time in your diary. But it needs to be at the time when you are best able to do Deep Work (so for me, that’s first thing in the morning; for others it might be late at night). And then you make sure you keep that time sacred: no interruptions, no distractions. That way you will allow your brain the freedom to really get into that Deep Work state.
What are your milestones?
Especially with a long project, it is a good idea to define some milestones. This gives you a more short-term target to work towards, AND gives you a sense of achievement
How are you going to regularly monitor your progress?
What kind of process do you need to check you are on track with your Plan? Is it a weekly catch-up, is it a daily ch