How proper planning, rest and recovery can take your performance to the next level

Part 1 – Planning

The “Do More” culture

Do you find yourself working at, or often, beyond capacity at the moment? 

Do you find that no matter how much you do, there is always more for you and you are finding it disheartening?

Then this blog is for you. I would like to try and help you with that 

I saw a picture when searching through some office based images recently, which terrified me. It was of a woman sat at a desk, as you may be now, with her various laptops, pens, paper and stationery. And on her computer screen, set against a huge black background were simply two words…DO MORE

This image encapsulates to me the feeling that so many people in the business world, whom I talk to, feel at the moment. Perhaps it was always this way, but especially over the past two years, the often unseen or unspoken expectation to be always available, always doing more, always ready, has become insidious.

If we are not able to take a hold of our own minds and expectations in this current business climate, then there are many who will do so for us; often resulting in us feeling worn out, exhausted, under appreciated or doubting ourselves. 

Just look at those who work in the UK in the NHS, the care home sector, truck drivers and teachers. These are just some examples from the public sector of how far people have been pushed recently, and my heart goes out to every one of them.

For us as business owners, as leaders, as those who work in the business sector, we have a great privilege – though it can so often feel like a great burden – to make it happen ourselves: to win the work, to make the product, to provide the vision, to lead the team. We can feel that if we don’t do it, then it will not get done. And that is where a lot of people are getting unstuck at the moment. 

As I often say to clients, don’t perform like a professional and rest like an amateur.

This blog is designed to give you help you to rest and recover properly, which if done properly, can and will lead to you having improved energy levels, efficiency, productivity, and ultimately, results for you and your business.  

Part 1 focuses on the importance that proper planning will play for you in this process.

3 key concepts to help you when planning for your professional life  

Let’s begin by looking at there key concepts that I suggest you keep in mind when scheduling your work, managing your time and energy and making plans for the future of your business and of your life.

The Pareto principle of 80/20. The majority of your best work/clients/customers will come from a small amount of places. It’s not enough to just get stuff done, focus on who or what that 20% is and the focus of your workload will be much sharper.

Keep asking yourself – what is the top 20% I could be putting my efforts into?

Plastic time – Salvador Dali’s Masterpiece artwork, The persistence of memory shows a desert scene full of melted clocks. When you are doing something or with someone you love, time seems to melt away. Your perception of time can seem to speed up or slow down, depending on if the moment is enjoyable. Keep this in mind, as there is much more to how you spend your time than just the seconds, minutes and hours. 

The market/business world is not fair – yes, it is excellent to help people to rise up and increase opportunities for as many as possible. But we see so often, that it is not the hardest workers in business who necessarily do the best. In that way, it is not “fair.” If we do not expect fairness, and aim to just make the most of what we have and what we are given, then we will not have unmet expectations of “fairness” unfulfilled. Embracing the fact that the business world is not equally fair sounds scary in theory, but in practice can be quite liberating, as it means that we can take ourselves towards a success with no limit on it. 

Now let’s look at how all balance and all success begins with good planning. 

A Planning Model for you

In my teaching days, I was taught a simple, highly effective planning model called

Plan Do Review

would plan out a series of lessons, deliver them, then review how they went. This review would then inform my next planning, which would benefit the next lessons and subsequent reviews.

After repeating this cycle thousands of times, I began to realise that it was the planning and reviewing that added up to be the most important parts. If I did not plan properly, then the lessons would be ineffective. Then if I did not review it, I would miss opportunities to make positive adjustments and changes, based on what I had learned in the lessons. 

And so it is also in business. We can spend so much time in the DO-ing, that we do not plan beforehand, as we say we “haven’t got the time.” Equally, if things do not go well, then we may not want to face the difficult task of reviewing them. And if they do go well, we can equally blind ourselves by not looking at why it was so, what went well, and how this could be repeated.

When I say you must plan for any kind of success of satisfaction or achievement in business, or in life, it is not hyperbole. It is essential. But don’t worry, your planning does not need to be complex, complicated, or even take a lot of time. 

It is the ability and the skill to plan consistently, to be able to create a plan and stick to it and focus on it that counts.

To help you, here are some examples of types of planning which you can use.

Life goals and dreams

Take 20 minutes to write down all the things you really would love to achieve, enjoy and be in your business and in your life. Do not be realistic. Write them all down, and get excited about them. Use these as a compass to guide you in your remaining time alive.

10 year plans

It is amazing what you can achieve in this time frame. Your business and your life can look totally different. Just look at the improvements in technology in the last 10 years! 

Write down what you want your business and your lifestyle (both equally important) to look and feel like in the next 10 years. Very important – write and plan if as if it is actually going to happen, then your mind will think, “Well yes, why not? Why can’t I make it happen? I am going to try!

5 year plans

Again, this might seem like a long period of time, but it will come round quick. Kataholos has been, at the time of writing this, going for 3 and a half years. And I am amazed at all we have achieved in that time. So, 5 years is enough time to completely re-invigorate your business. Or even start up a new one! Again, plan like IT IS going to happen. 

3 year plans 

This is an excellent medium term time frame. In this period of time you can make great strides in improving your processes, forming and nourishing great relationships, and really taking your business to the next level. This period of time seems to go quite fast, so make sure to include more details on HOW you are going to achieve something.

Yearly plans 

So many people put too much into their yearly plans. Have 1-3 main focuses for your business, and for your life, which come from your core values of who you are and what you are all about. And stick to them – don’t get distracted by shiny objects. 

Planning can, and should, involve saying no to several things, to make sure you are focusing on the right things for you and your business. 

90 day plans 

is my favourite type of planning for business. It goes so quick, but seems to be a perfect period of time to be able to get things done and begin to see results in business, (though this will, of course, depend on what your business involves.)

Here is what I recommend for 90 day planning.

Draw 3 big circles or boxes on a sheet of paper facing horizontally. Label them as the next 3 months. Then begin by putting all the important events – the things that HAVE to happen – in them. Then put down any special projects or occasions that are coming up (such as expos, people’s birthdays, holidays). Then add important projects you would like to compete, or spend time working on in that time. 

And you will begin to get a picture of what to expect over the next 3 months, and how they all link together. Then I would advise putting a small box to the side of each one, with the title “Focus” and adding one special focus for each month. They could be: create new product/service, fill sales pipeline, marketing review, annual board meeting etc.

I would advocate also doing the 90 day activity for your personal life, then monthly, weekly and daily goals and lists for that too. That way, you will know that you are also applying the same strong focus on what is important to you as a person – your relationships, health, family etc.

Monthly plans

Then, informed by your 90 day plan, take the items in your first month circle or square, and write a list of professional goals for the month, and the month’s focus. Then tick them off as they are done – this is highly satisfying, because you will know that you are spending time on the right things, having looked at the bigger and long term pictures first. 

Weekly and Daily plans

These are very simple. Take the items from your monthly lists and create weekly and daily to do lists from them. 

Special event plans

Special events will always benefit from advanced planning. These could include client meetings, attending expos, networking meetings and unique events like birthdays or work anniversaries. 

Contingency plans 

So many people wish they had made a plan after things go wrong. So be brave and spend some time creating a plan, even a rough one, for what to do in these circumstances:

You are ill
There is a death in the family or at work
You lose your best client
There is an environmental problem

If you are reading these examples and feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t be! You do not have to begin using all of these types of planning, just pick what resonates with you at the moment. I would recommend you start with a 90 day plan, a weekly and a contingency plan, and see how you get on.

When you have written or drawn up a plan, you will feel calmer. You really will. I created a 90 day plan recently, and did the same with some clients, and we all enjoyed seeing what the next 3 months would look like and bring: clearly on the page in front of us.

No matter what plans you create, remember, it is the ability to create plans consistently and use and stick to them, that is the true value. Yes, you can alter plans, and yes you can plan in whichever way suits you. 

And so for all plans I would  suggest that they include the following:

  1. The end result   the goal, what you want 
  2. The how – how are you going to make it happen? Who is involved? Where, when? Etc. This will be where you spend most of your time and efforts
  3. What could do wrong – and what can you do to help if it does? 
  4. What is the value – for you and for others – does it strengthen a relationship? Provide a service? Something more? 
  5. Where have you got the plan to refer to – so you can check it and tick it off when it is done – on your phone, a document, a piece of paper, an online file etc.

Here is an example of this 5 part planning framework being being applied to help you further.

Plan for an introverted young man visiting a networking meeting 

  1. What do I want – to gain the contact details of 3 people I could book in a virtual coffee meeting with, to explore potential collaborations 
  2. How, where, when etc – I will attend X group on X date at X venue 
  3. If I feel anxious or panic – I can go into the toilet, outside for some fresh air, have some soothing positive self talk cards with me to look at, or I could leave early if I need to 
  4. The value is – I could meet someone at the event who could have a massive positive effect on my business, so the value is huge 
  5. I will read this plan in my phone – prepare everything I need the night before, and tick this off on my weekly goals list when I have attended and got the contact details of the three people

Final thoughts to help you

In part 2 of this 2 part series, we will be looking at how to rest, recover and relax properly, the essential end part of the Plan, Do, Review model. 

Wondering where and when to implement this planning? Just start today. Just by making more time for proper planning and doing it regularly, you will be heading in the right direction for you so much quicker and more effectively. Keep your plans simple, focused on what is important, and review your progress in them regularly. And be proud of yourself. 

It takes great courage and bravery to step away from the DO MORE mentality and invest time instead planning, thinking about and crafting what the right things to commit your energy to are. So go for it.

Remember, you can’t perform like a professional if you plan like an amateur! 

Best wishes to you,

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