Welcome to the last post in the Launch & Learn series!
How about that!
One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to take on a new diet – most don’t make it past three months. In fact, according to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, the benefits of most diets have vanished completely after one year. Folks are fired up at first, but over time they fizzle out.
No news there, right?
Experts say there is no one-size-fits-all diet plan. The key is to figure out what works best for the individual and will be most sustainable over the long run.
Diets fail because of unsustainable plans.
So do maid service startups.
Keeping up isn’t what moves you ahead.
Your aim now should be consistent, deliberate improvement.
Whether it’s a diet or a startup, the key to progress is surprisingly simple: you have to make space for what matters and what works for you.
Seems obvious, right? But the problem is chaos happens, and our excellent new agendas evaporate. They don’t allow for the crazy busy lives we lead as entrepreneurs. It’s a never-ending list of responsibilities to deal with, whether it’s staffing, bills, scheduling, software, or customer service. And it’s not going away.
You may begin to wonder who has the time or bandwidth to plan?
Those who succeed, that’s who.
But what if you’re not good at planning?
Time management expert and author of “Getting Things Done,” David Allen, says we are all planning machines. Whether it’s taking a walk or having a talk, you are always planning. It’s almost automatic.
Even now, in the back of your mind, you may be thinking about the errands you have to run later. Maybe you’re scrolling down the page to see how much there is left to read in this article!
Yes, you are already a “planning machine.” It’s just a matter of learning to use that fantastic machine of yours effectively.
You can do this. Planning is like any other skill in that it’s improve-able. It may not always be easy, but what’s much harder is dealing with the nagging feeling of being unproductive and behind.
It’s plain stressful to miss commitments and opportunities.
At first, make it more about the practice than the plan
Once you’re clear on the outcome – results you’re after – start with the practice of planning itself. Commit to a specific time and place when you’ll think about your move-the-needle stuff. Do this daily if at all possible.
Try not to see it as a responsibility juggling session, but rather a method of seeing your way forward on the essential things. Over time, you will hammer out the kind of planning that works for you.
Picture the mountain climber who’s continually looking and evaluating his path upward. That’s you, picking the best path toward your maid service business success!
Stick with it, and over time, this practice will help you develop a structure you can maintain. Which, in turn, will give you even greater clarity.
This single habit will give you an incredible amount of insight and a massive boost of confidence over time.
It’s all about momentum at this point.
Plan in 3’s and plan to fail
Maybe you’re not a regular planner, or you’ve failed or quit in the past, but here’s a simple concept that can have a significant impact on your success: the rule of three’s.
Recognize that you probably won’t be able to complete more than three priority tasks on any given day. As the famous management guru Jim Collins has said, “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.”
Three is the smallest number that creates a pattern, and the most outstanding presenters know that our brains track information best in threes. Even the ancient Greeks understood it. Their theory was “everything that comes in threes is perfect.”
It’s our default quantity for chunking down information we want to commit to memory. For example: if you were to try and memorize this sequence of numbers:
3 9 2 7 4 6 4 9 2 1
Now try it this way:
392 746 2921
So, do that hard-working brain of yours a favor: plan in threes. One way might be to consider three timeframes as you schedule your priorities: this week, this month, and this quarter.
Rather than fear failure, why not assume it?
Sean D’Souza is a marketer and content creator who’s produced an enormous amount of content for products, books, and courses. He’s also an excellent illustrator and photographer.
D’Souza also uses the “3’s” approach, but he adds an unusual twist: he only plans to be 50% effective. The beauty of his method is that he’s less discouraged when he falls short. It will be the same for you.
Remember, discouragement is a productivity killer.
Finally, close the loop
You won’t stick with planning if it’s not working for you. And one of the most common mistakes that planners make is that they don’t reflect on and learn from their plans.
William Edwards Deming was a management consultant who created the PDSA cycle, which stands for Plan, Do, Study, Act.
Plan – or predict what you want to happen.
Do – execute the plan.
Study – look back and analyze what went well and what didn’t.
Act – adapt your plan based on what you’ve learned.
Deming designed the model to improve manufacturing processes, but it’s profoundly helpful in any setting that requires foresight. The reason is, it addresses one of the most common mistakes made by planners: failure to close the loop.
Most of us cycle between plan/do (the first two steps) but fail to check the results and act on them. If you don’t close the loop on planning, you won’t learn near as much, and you won’t improve your skills as quickly.
Don’t wait for the perfect plan
It may seem a little daunting to implement everything above but remember: the most important thing is to start with something you know you can stick to. For now, maybe it’s just planning those three priorities each day.
Get that planning practice in place first, then focus on the long term stuff.
Finally, you can become a master planner by implementing the PDSA cycle.
It’s like dieting; once you start to see the benefits, it will be easier to stick with it. You’ll feel uneasy when you miss a day.
The better planner you become, the more you’ll appreciate the time you save and the reduced chaos. There will be unexpected benefits too.
Such as the sense of control and power you’ll have as you get better at predicting your future success.
That’s a wrap on the Launch & Learn series!
Remember, you can always go to the first post and see a list of all the topics we’ve covered. You may even find it helpful to use a post or two to formulate your world domination plans (or your local maid service market).
Keep in mind, that Launch27 is eager to help you dominate!