In most offices around the world, at the beginning of each year, targets are set, bonuses are negotiated and your development needs discussed. This results in your personal development plan.

Then you have to think about how you will reach those targets, how you will be able to demonstrate that you have met your targets and what you need from the company in order to be able to meet those goals

I used to get mine and panic would set in… I would go into overwhelm and start doubting that I would be able to get anywhere near them.

Thats where planning comes in.. I would sit myself down and map out everything I could think of. After all, if you have something you need to achieve, then you have to know what you need to do and whether or not you are on the right track to meeting your goal.

And it doesn’t matter if its your personal development plan, a launch event or your business strategy.

Visualise your journey

 

The first thing you need to do is to visualise the end of the journey. Then you need to brainstorm everything that you will need to do to get there. So I would sit down with each of my targets and write down absolutely everything that I might have to do to achieve them. There may be some stuff there that turns out to be irrelevant but you can toss them aside, once you have developed your plan in more detail. The important thing here, is to get it all down on paper.. or on an electronic notepad, if thats your thing.

Once I’ve done this, my creative mind starts to take over. It can see that the target can be met. I get excited, adrenaline kicks in. I know I can do it… I just don’t know how… YET!

Once you have the tasks, then you can move onto how long each activity will take. Sometimes this is only a rough estimate. Sometimes it is something you’ve done previously so you have a good idea of what you need to do. But even if its a new task, you have history to fall upon. If you need to research something, how long does it usually take you to find out enough to get you started, if you need to prepare presentations / promotional activities, how long have these taken in the past? It gives you a good idea of how long it will take this time.

Once you have all the timings, this is when you can start mapping it out. Categorise all your tasks and try to think of the logical steps. Create a spreadsheet, open a Trello board, or if you manage a lot of projects, think about looking for a good project management tool as a repository for all the information. This is especially important if you have a team involved in the project.

The ones that come to mind are Asana and Dubsado. Both have good and bad points, and both offer free versions so you can try before you buy.

Asana is quite difficult to set up but once you get the hang of it can be easy to work with team members and see all of your ongoing projects at a glance. Dubsado is more of a CRM, but you can set up workflows and To-Do lists, as well as loads of other features, so definitely worth a glance

And the planning commences….

 

This is the stage where the creative side of my brain calms down, and the logical side kicks in. I use past data, do quick trials to extrapolate and start thinking through the detail of each activity. This is my thing, I can see the plan, understand the obvious path through from start to finish.

An important thing to do once you have it all mapped out in a plan, is to look for your critical path. Are there any big things that will stop you achieving your goal in the required timescales? Is there a cumulation of tasks that can only be done concurrently that would halt the project if they weren’t completed. These are the ones that you need to pay particular attention to. If these don’t go to plan, then you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle!

Of course, there will be things that you can do at the same time, and these become less important. These are the activities you can slot into your day, as and when you find yourself at a loose end.

And there will be things that don’t go to plan.. but the thing that gets you back on track in the shortest amount of time is YOUR PLAN.

Having the plan, means that even if something stops for a period of time, you can review your plan and work out what you need to do to get back on track. The most common ways are throw more resources at it, or change the end date.

This means that instead of you doing it as a lone ranger, you pay someone to come and help you get it back on track, you work longer hours, or you pay for a more expensive widget, that means the thing can be done quicker… or you keep going, but you acknowledge that the end date will move out.

When I worked in corporate, there would be times when the strategy of the business changed, and sometimes that would trickle down to me and I would be reassigned. Having that plan meant that someone could take over the activity and know exactly what else needed to be done to achieve it. This meant that they could hit the ground running, rather than spending 2 weeks trying to work out what had already been done, and what was left to do.

How did it go?

 

And if you’re wondering whether or not I hit my targets and got my bonuses, OF COURSE! I had a plan, I made sure it was achievable. I asked for support from my line manager when things came up that were outside my control and I worked hard to make sure I got there 🙂

But if you are looking at this and getting overwhelmed, I get you. There are plenty of things that I’m not good at. Thats why, when I’m truly outside my comfort zone, I ask for help, I find someone who has the secret sauce for the thing that I can’t do.

And thats what I advise you to do, if you know what you want to do, but you have no idea of how to get there, then give me a shout and we can make it a thing