Work Smarter (Not Harder) and Get More Done with a "12-Week Year" | by Ruby McGuire

Book on Desk 12 Week Work Year

As a coach I'm sure you've read many books on business and personal development. And you've probably noticed that many books have the same message—just shared differently. (An excellent reason to write your own book by the way!)

One book that made an impression on me was The 12-Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington. As the book says, "The 12-Week Year changes everything." It really can be a game-changer for your business and life.

What's it all about?

Instead of setting your goals according to the typical annual calendar, you abandon annualized thinking and work in 12-week blocks. As coaches, we love goals. And this concept takes goal setting to a whole new level.Bird tweeting work smarter, not harder on light teal background

So, how is this change in thinking helpful?

When you drop your annualized thinking, you must get crystal clear on what you want to achieve in 12 weeks. It lets you cut through the noise of having too many goals to work through.

The downside of being a solopreneur is that we have way too many ideas. "Shiny object syndrome" can create overwhelm, confusion and often burnout. And the 12-week method creates motivation and focus, calming down that overactive mind.

It also prevents feelings of failure that can arise in February when you start the new year excited about your goals, only to miss your targets in month two and beyond.

Action: Consider running your business year in quarters. It will help you get a lot clearer on your goals.

The 12-Week Year process

The book takes you through a process to create your vision, develop a plan and "score" your progress. The system's magic is that you can start any month of the year. So you get to set your own 'year'.

You generally create three goals that you focus on in any 12 weeks.

As you go through this period, you take action on tasks that help you achieve your goals.

Then at the end of the period, you rate your progress. I LOVE this part of the process. It's a way to 'gamify' your goals while giving you great metrics to grow and improve your business. I think business should be fun; this helps with that!

Some tips from me...

When measuring my progress, I like to use a traffic light coding system. I use Green for Hit Target, Amber for Near Target and Red for Missed Target. I'm very visual. This system gives a snapshot of progress toward my goals, allowing me to adapt if I need to.

And while it's not part of the suggested plan, I like to add a fourth goal on health and well-being. I've noticed a direct correlation between the time I spend on self-care and working on mindset, and the amount of work I achieve: eating well, thinking well and sleeping well all contribute to being more effective. Tracking these health goals helps me prioritize my well-being so I can achieve more in less time.

Action: To grow your business effectively, implement some business metrics. The more you measure, the clearer you get on your investment return: time, money, energy and resources.

Create blocks of time

The authors share many ways of ensuring you achieve your goals. They discuss the power of building good habits and time blocking for different activities:

  • Strategic and money-making exercises
  • Unplanned and low-value activities
  • Taking time away from work

They discuss an execution system based on five disciplines: vision, planning, process control, measurement and time use. The book also talks about creating weekly routines, scoring your progress, planning your week and participating in a weekly accountability meeting.

Action: Block out times in your diary for strategic thinking, buffers for unplanned and low-value activities and work-free time to give your brain a break.

Ownership and committing to action

When you work this way, you're naturally encouraged to take ownership and commit to taking action. You'll be amazed at what you can achieve in 12 weeks when using this system.

The book's premise is to "get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months", and it works! I've achieved so much more in my business since using this method—while feeling more serene in the process.

Action: Whatever goals you set, commit to yourself that you'll follow them through to completion.

A sense of urgency without the panic

With this method, there's a sense of urgency, but not panic.

You simply create the plan and follow through on it. And it's also easier to prioritize those ad-hoc tasks and interruptions that pop-up by checking in to see if a task, decision or action is aligned with your goals. If not, you either park it or choose to take it no further.

Action: Run your goals through a checking system. Does the task, decision or action help you to meet your goals, or move you further away from them?

Remember to review and take stock

If you've done the math, you'll have noticed that 4 x 12 weeks don't equate to a full year. The 13th week after every 12 week block is a 'review week'.

I've noticed that many coaches are great at helping clients review their achievements but not always so great at reviewing their own. So this inbuilt review week allows you to consider what's worked, what hasn't—and what needs to change. And this sets you up for success for your next 12-Week Year.

Action: Also build reflection time into your working week. It's a brilliant way to identify ways of working smarter and also get great insights.

Become the leader of your business

In summary, The 12-Week Year is a fabulous book to help you become the leader of your business, control your time and be more focused than you've been before.

Instead of talking about your goals, you'll activate them.

And you'll have a life outside of work too, which will make you a much more interesting person to know 😉

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Whilst Amazon is a convenient way to purchase books, many local community bookstores are struggling to stay alive. If you can, why not order your book from your local bookstore, both boosting your local economy and supporting a fellow small business owner? Or consider using (which gives money back to small bookstores). We have recently become an affiliate for them, and love the option to offer Wishlists and an alternative to Amazon!

Contributing Author:

Ruby McGuire is a Business & Mindset Queen. She's an Accredited Master Coach & Master Mentor with the IAPC&M, Trainer, Inspirational Speaker and Author of multiple books. She loves helping her clients step up and become leaders (aka Queens) of their businesses. She helps her clients develop their leadership and business skills, create a success mindset and attract dreamy clients. She is a Brit on a mission to live a simpler life without marketing on social media so that she can spend more time in her beautiful Scottish surroundings. You can find her at her pretty online home, over on her podcast show, Rock Your Fabulous Biz, and here where she shares her Mini Guide to Marketing Without Social Media. When she’s not working you’ll find her surrounded by books, making hand-made cards, and enjoying life with her hubby, little dog and chickens (usually with a Whittard Vanilla cappuccino in her hand)!

Learn more about Ruby & see all their articles here >>

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