Create Your Own Peaceful Planning Ritual to Grow Your Business & Stay on Target

childMH900442518 325x217Business Planning is something we need to do regularly - to review our goals, progress and setting actions that keep us on course. Many of us think business planning is something dreadfully serious and/or tedious - detailed plans, task lists and hard, hard slog. Add in the feeling of overwhelm when we look at everything we 'need' to do, the guilt we feel for what we haven't done - and the pressure to succeed, make money and get new clients. It's no wonder so many of us avoid planning. And here are some business tips to help you!

It really needn't be like this! Business planning can be uplifting, even fun. And when done regularly and with focus, it takes a lot less time than you think.

Yes, usually when I sit down to plan (whether it's for the quarter or just for the afternoon!) the voice in my head says, "You haven't called Peter back yet!", or "You need to get writing that article!", "Do something REAL, something useful!". There will ALWAYS be something more 'pressing'. But without a plan I am lost. I get up and I think, "What am I supposed to be doing today?"

So I did a calculation. In 3 months there are roughly 1440 waking hours. Spending 2 hours planning is just 0.14% of your waking hours (significantly less than 1 percent!). In fact even if you add in 30 mins a week for weekly planning and 15 mins a day for your daily planning that still takes up less than 1.5% of your waking hours!)

How can you NOT afford to do this?

Having a quarterly business planning ritual makes it easy to plan my days - and feel good about what I'm doing. I wake up and I KNOW what to do. It gives me a sense of inner peace.

And you know what else? My business has been growing steadily since I started this regular practice.

So, how do I do it? Here's my relaxing planning ritual - how I make time to plan:

  1. I block out time on my calendar.Even though it only takes 1 - 1.5 hours, I block out 2 hours, so that I have time to settle into the planning process and don't feel rushed. I learned it takes me the first 30 mins to settle into the planning process. Sometimes I'll do a Saturday morning - to make sure my diary is clear and that I can really relax into it. TIP: When are you at your best? I usually pick mid-morning to lunchtime, which is when I'm at my best during the day.
  2. I choose a great place to plan. I find a 'happy' spot in my house that I like (I love that I now have a laptop!). Sometimes I'll go to a coffee shop - but it needs to be one where I can actually focus and not get interrupted or drawn into a chat. A third option is booking a meeting room in the library. For me it can be different each time, and I decide a few days before according to how I'm feeling. The key is that it needs to be somewhere I can relax and focus without interruptions. TIP: If you don't have a laptop, make sure your desk is clear of clutter before you start.
  3. I make it peaceful. That doesn't necessarily mean quiet, although quiet is often good. A coffee shop can create a great "white noise" that allows us to relax. Sometimes I'll play classical music, nature sounds or jazz. TIP: If you play music, play something without words - as the words can be distracting and use up vital brain power!
  4. I have a nice drink and treats on hand. This is often a great cup of tea - herbal or black, or some fruit juice. I also have snacks - sometimes a square or two of good chocolate, sometimes a couple of mandarin oranges and nuts. Sometimes all three! It all depends on my mood. TIP: Set out your yummy snacks and drinks on the desk so they're available and you don't distract yourself by getting up to get them.
  5. How else can you make your environment pleasant to plan? Get some flowers, set up some aromatherapy? I like lavender or clary sage to make my planning time special. A client once told me she had a special "jumper" (that's a sweater if you're in North America!). It was cashmere - she loved how it felt and wore it whenever she worked on her goals. TIP: Use the "Get it Done" Coaching Exercise to stop procrastinating, use your 5 senses and create the perfect environment and ritual!
  6. I remove all distractions. Make sure your phone ringer/s, email and messaging notifications  - and anything else that might interrupt you is off or dealt with. Let the cat and/or dog out or in. I also make sure the room is the right temperature for me (usually that means turning the heat up a little!). AND I go to the bathroom just before I start.
  7. Lastly, I reward myself when I'm done. Usually I'll have a nice lunch ready to eat afterwards - sometimes I'll arrange to meet a friend for lunch as a treat, or I might pick out a new or favourite inspirational TED talk to watch.

In short, I make the planning experience into a pleasant ritual. That ritual can be doing exactly the same things each time, or like me, you can go with the flow according to how you feel at the time.

compassTime to be honest. I don't always stick to this 100% (I'm probably at about 90%!), but what I've found is when I don't plan, I don't get as much done. I miss something important, feel overwhelmed, stressed or end up rushing to meet some deadline that I forgot about. By creating a 3 Month Planning Ritual, I create a bridge between my annual goals and what I do day-to-day. This way I stay on target and enjoy work more.

Without a business plan, you have your car packed, but you're going on a roadtrip with no map. Business planning is simply creating the map - without a map you're going to get lost!

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4 Comments

  1. Sandra Heim

    Hi Emma-Louise, thanks a lot for sharing great tools regularly! I am also a big believer in planning and I am always much more relaxed and effective when I plan my days, weeks and months. Tomorrow I have set time aside to plan Q2. Have a great day and planning time 🙂 Sandra

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Sandra,
      Thank-you, and that's awesome Sandra! Enjoy your planning day - I hope it is relaxing, fun and effective (I'm sure it will be)! Keep up all your good work. Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  2. Brian

    I love these tips. I had all these visions of beautiful places to go and do my business planning once every 3 months. Thanks for the motivation!

    Reply

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