We’ve all been there – hectic work schedules and changing priorities and growing demands on our time, talents and resources can make us feel stretched pretty thin sometimes. Part of us realizes that times like these leave us focused on just keeping our heads above water yet another part knows instinctively that there has got to be a way to be proactive and get ahead of the curve. It’s not easy to get into the habit of action planning but once it becomes part of our approach it’s hard to understand how we ever got ahead without them. Here are some simple tips to get started.
1. Start with the end in mind – (Thank you Steven Covey for this one.) Ask yourself, “what is the ultimate goal here? This project/ plan/ idea I have may have an impact on me as well as others I work with. How do I want people to see, experience and talk about it once all is said and done?”
2. Start small – If you’re new to action planning a goal like “Let’s triple our profits by next year” or I want to have 10,000 new twitter followers by Christmas” may seem a little daunting. Choose a small goal you want to work on – one that makes you stretch outside of your comfort zone a little but is definitely attainable.
3. Create a short vision statement – one that can easily be remembered and repeated. This statement should sum up in a few words what it is you want to accomplish. Write it on a post-it note and stick it to your computer or somewhere else you will see it all the time. This little message can act as a yardstick by which you can easily assess whether your daily activities are in line with your vision. If they are, great! Keep going. If not, ask why not?
4. Give yourself a timeline – Whether it is a week or a month it should be a reasonable amount of time to get done what you want to get done. Don’t be too easy on yourself here – the idea is to put words into action and if you leave too much time to accomplish your tasks procrastination and loss of interest or focus can become your greatest enemies.
5. Develop a list of Actionable Items – Think it through – when you are creating a plan of attack your actions should be specific and all possess a role in reaching your goal. When you are creating this list of activities ensure you have resources and time to execute them effectively. Share your goal and action items with a trusted colleague and have them commit to keeping you accountable throughout process.
6. Do check-ins – ask yourself, are my actions helping me reach my goal? Do I need to change anything? Am I getting closer to my goal or farther away? Small adjustments along the way are normal and can tap into that creative side of your brain where all the best ideas come from. Ask your colleague for feedback. Sometimes a different perspective can shine new light on a situation.
7. Celebrate. Most of us generally don’t do enough of this. Once you have done what you set out to do it’s OK to do a little happy dance or skip that low-fat latte for something with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Enjoy– you deserve it.
At Summit Team Building all our development programs include a custom designed action planning module to help the participants take their learning back to the work place..