12 Week Systems and Plan B's
Iva: Welcome to a new episode of The Mompreneur’s Guide to Work-Life Harmony, I'm Iva
Desiree: and I'm Desiree.
Iva: And we are two moms, trying to build a business with little ones around us. Today, we're going to figure out how to get things ticked off our to do list without completely drowning in our own frustrations.
Des, how are you managing your day to day activities so that you, that you say at the end of the week or at the end of the month when I do like a quick, you know, revision of where I am, we're taking the pulse of what I have accomplished or needed to do. Am I really in the, in the harmony arena?
Desiree: That's a really good question because it's something that I've 100% changed in doing. So, I'm always a huge fan of a notebook and a calendar. I've tried a lot of digital things as well, but I'm still your classic go to your notebook, write things down and use highlighters and lots of colors kind of girl. But I used, I started a bullet journal, quite a while ago, and I had everything mapped out beautifully. And I had my day-to-day tasks in it, and all the things I wanted to achieve, and by the end of the day I felt like oh my god I didn't do this, I couldn't take that off, and now I kept transferring different tasks to different days and it was just such a big mess and again that frustration came.
So what I decided to do, is that I would list out, I stopped doing this bullet journal because it just did not work for me. So I started to list out everything that I wanted to, everything better pretty much that's on my to-do list. And every morning. I will now sit down and have a look. Okay, which ones are my priority? And which ones do I know that I can tackle today. And only those are actually going on my list of I'm doing them today. Because I will do myself a disservice if I say okay I'm going to get all of these things done. Rather, I'm going to get these three big things done that or three, whatever things done that I need.
If I can fit in something else I will, but let's just look at it. Then maybe the next day I'll have a look at the list again like, oh, but today I have a little bit less time because I need to run a few errands before school pickup time so there's a bit less time so I'm going to put a bit less on my plate. And that alone, that change and how I organized my calendar and how I went through my to-do list was a really big difference for me, making these like weekly to-dos and monthly to-dos rather than these daily ones.
Iva: I see and I can, I can imagine, also how overwhelming it looks to most of us when our to-do lists are one kilometre long, right? Because then you don't even know where to start. So, I like, I like the fact that you have a system where you are just touching base with reality and trying to stay as realistic as possible to what to, what you will be able to accomplish giving the rest of what the panorama looks like.
And that, I guess for us moms or mompreneurs, it can be, you know, a doctor's appointment that has been scheduled for that day that you know that you have to work around, or it can be, I don't know, like, something that your husband might be throwing your way, like for example in my case today, is all of a sudden the air cons need to be cleaned, and he was like “Oh hey by the way, the aircon cleaners are coming today”. So, now I have to say, well, what are the things that I need to accomplish, either before they call or after they leave so that I make sure that there's not that constant interruption or conflict, or whatever. And, and that is something that, that constantly changes so again the flow of the day and the rhythm of the day of what is going on.
Desiree: So that works for me sort of on a short term basis, more on a daily or a weekly basis, but I do have to say that I need to work a little bit on getting like a bigger vision of my goals and how to plan it. And I remember that you were telling me that you found a really great way to do that. Can you can you share with me what that is?
Iva: Oh yes, yes. So, I discovered this book, that is called the “12-week Year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months”, and it's by Brian P Moran and Michael Lennington. And the premise of the book is that they just want to offer you an effective framework for setting goals and tactics that they use to execute those, those goals, and you break them down into, into a daily, and a weekly basis.
So their premise is that the farther that you plan into the future, the less predictability, you will have. And I don't know if this has happened to you in the past and also because for me was something I did experience while working a corporate job. I would remember my boss would get us all together at the beginning of the year and you're starting to do, you know budgets for approval, and you're starting to set out the goals for the team and the deliverables that you need to have for the team and the measurements of how you're going to be evaluated, etc.
And then the year starts off very promising, like everybody has ideas, everybody has a plan and then you know by the end of the year, this is what we will have accomplished, etc. And then most likely by mid-year or maybe even earlier, things start to fall, to fall out from the goals and, right? And plans that you have and you settle more into, more like putting out fires type of mentality because everybody's rushing.
Because it's the end of the month. So now everybody's rushing because it's the end of the month and this happened and then it's the end of the other month and this other happened and then the year runs out, and you look back on those proposal plans that everybody put together and you reread them and you said “What happened? What happened from that point until this point that we're in that so many things fell out of place.
Desiree: Plus, things get outdated don't they?
Iva: And things and things constantly change and even now more, for, for everybody that we are so interconnected and it's such a global economy at the end of the day, but also just at the rate, as you said, of changes that are happening from literally from one month to the next or from one week to the next. Things just completely become obsolete, either because, I don't know, because a company says so, it's taking a different direction, or a government is implementing a new rule. So now everybody needs to run and comply with that.
So I feel that now more than ever, having, having the mental approach of saying, I'm going to treat 12 weeks as if they were one year. And I'm going to plan according to that framework. It allows for you to focus on really what is it that you want and what is it that is going to give you the results that you're after. And that is how you allocate your time. And to me that has been the biggest game changer.
Because at the end of last year I remember I was still fumbling with a lot of what ifs, or, or what we like to call them, you know, it wouldn't be great, if this and that, so it would be great if, if I was able to do this and it would be great that, that I were able to accomplish that and it's everything is great, but then during my day-to-day, I was scrolling through social media. And maybe that time, I wasn't really using it effectively towards the wouldn’t-that-be-great goal that I had said to myself about something.
So now, taking this approach. I'm really able not to micromanage my time because just as you said, the day starts off, and you have to blend into it.
You have to blend into it and prepare for, for what the day is bringing, but when you do have the time to do what you need to do, then it's not, it's not something that now you have to go and find or that you can easily get lost into other activities, you are very laser-focused, and you're very intentional about how you're using that block of time. So then you say, well, if at the end of this, if at the end of this week, I am supposed to hit publish on my website, then for sure and the time that I have to do that, I'm going to really be spending it on putting the last edits on the copy and making sure that the links work rather than drafting an email to go out to my mailing list. Because for the week, the website and publishing it is the main goal. It's the main target, and you're evaluating yourself towards that.
Desiree: So just to clarify, so you set shorter term goals that say okay, using the example of your website, you want to work on your website and hit publish at the end of this 12 week period, so you kind of work backwards and you divide this 12 these 12 weeks into your sort of flow and and work backwards a little bit on how to achieve that goal. After 12 weeks, is that it?
Iva: It’s a reverse engineering approach, and as you work backwards everything falls into place pretty easily. Because then if you know that at the end of those 12 weeks your website has to be published, then you know that you have to break it down into a you know what are those big deliverables So choosing a hosting service would be one or making sure that you have your domain name already approved and chosen. So those are the things that start falling into place into a sequence.
So then you go back to, to the, to the first week, and then you say okay what are the building blocks that are going to get me to publish my website? Well, to have a domain name, a domain name to have a host, to make sure that I have a logo, to know what the brand colors are, and then you move off right? And then the second week you can be looking at how are the funnels going to work in my website, where do I want to direct traffic and where do people need to go so then you start building that and then the next week you say okay, so when people are going through my funnel, obviously they're going to receive emails that they are signing up for. So, what does that look like? Is it, you know, is it a webinar? Is it a downloadable? What is it that I need to do?
And then, if you know that, that you're going to put your customers through a funnel, and that the anchor of that is a webinar, then obviously at some point, you need to say well I need to record it, and I need to edit it and I need to write the script or whatever it is. So, so then you break it down into manageable bite-size pieces that when you are working during the week, you say, Okay, so now today's all about the webinar, right? What, what needs to be dealt with in terms of that webinar that I'm putting together. And then, social media, or writing emails, or I don't know, having a phone call with someone about something that is also work-related but not related to the webinar as such becomes not priority, it becomes second, second place. So then you now know how you're going to better allocate your time and then you're not so frustrated at the end of the day to say well I did a lot of things and I was busy, but I didn't really get much done.
And have you ever felt that way that you said, Oh my God I've, I've done so much, but really, it just felt like busy work and it wasn't anything meaningful or nothing that felt that it was driving you towards that big vision or goal that you're striving for.
Iva: So I highly recommend that approach.
Desiree: Yeah I think I need to dive more into that, and you said you got that strategy from a book? I definitely need the link to that or like the resource I need to read that and get into that as well because I think I can perfectly integrate that into my little system of then having these focused building blocks to achieving this thing at the 12 week year, but then also breaking it down into these manageable daily tasks that at the end, give me the harmony, but still keep me laser-focused on priorities that need to be done at the end of that certain week.
Iva: It’s a grade yourself at the end of the week and say, you know, did I accomplish a certain percentage of, of what I was set out to do, but not for the sake of self-flagellation. So I just want to put that clear. It's not for the sake of saying Oh my God you suck because you only accomplished x, it's more to understand what might be tweaks or what might be new insights that you need to allow for to, to do it better next week, and that that happened to me.
I had a big deliverable with my website. And it took me much, much longer than I had expected according to my plan and to my 12 week year strategy, but then I realized that I hadn't provided enough space for learning curve when it came towards this, I was trying to do it on my own. So, I became overly ambitious in thinking that he was going to be straightforward. And I didn't allow for the 40 minutes of reading time going into Google trying to find, you know the tutorials on certain things that I was fumbling with, to get what I needed to do, to get my website to do what he needed to do so. So then obviously as I got a low score card on that. But I, now I understand that anything that has to do with the realm of WordPress, either I need an expert that can save me that time, or I need to provide more of that time within my schedule of things so that that learning curve is accounted for because I know I will encounter it.
Desiree: Yes I know we can be so hard on ourselves, either we are navigating this landscape also for the first time right? We are entrepreneurs, we're learning by doing, learning as we go along, we're learning from each other and we're only getting wiser and by making like not mistakes, but maybe sometimes miscalculations we'll learn from that and that's totally fine and that's also a little bit the beauty, we are our own bosses we have us to satisfy and that is it.
Well, we often have teams involved too, but then it's, we are we are making the calls on when we need to achieve certain things I think that's also one thing. And again a mindset shift to let us achieve this harmony to say, Okay, I accept that took me a little bit longer, but that's totally fine. What I'm putting out there is amazing it was worth the extra effort or worth the extra weeks maybe I needed to put into that. And, and I think it's, it's a journey, it's a beautiful journey that we shape ourselves.
Iva: It's that mindset shift of saying, how can I be harmonious with what is, and how I can better flow with whatever the day, the week, the month, that I mean is, is bringing to me. into into my life? And also to be conscious that we are juggling a lot of balls up in the air, but they are not all the same.
And that's also a very important lesson that we need to pay attention to. Some balls are rubber, and some balls are glass balls. And in our quest to be juggling them all at the same time, some of them are going to inevitably fall into the ground. The ones that are glass for sure are going to break. And the ones that are rubber, we can just pick them up and continue juggling them. And I think that for us as moms, we need to be very aware that our children, our spouses, our relationships are those glass balls. That we really need to be very careful about. Because everything else the website, the call, the training, the clients, to some extent, can still be considered rubber, we can still pick it up from the ground and continue juggling it, again. But those moments where we say to our kids: “Not now, honey I'm busy. Not, now, honey, I'm working.” But now, you know, they could be fracturing the balls in a certain way.
And it’s also having that open communication. This is something that I do with my husband, I warn him and I say “Hey, this week is just, it's a pretty hectic week for me, it's a red week. I’m full on with many things. And probably I will be able to have dinner with you for 10 minutes because I'm going to be gulfing down my food and probably won't even ask you how your day was. And then I'm going to jump back into the computer. And I just want you to be aware that that is going to be my rhythm for this week.” And for the most part, I think between adults, we can all understand that.
I would say the third takeaway were to also have a plan to hedge yourself when your plans don't go according to the big, you know, to the big board that you have set up and then the game plan that you had. Because it will also happen. So making sure that you are aware of, okay, this is what I'm trying to attempt. But what if I'm not able to do it or what could be the obstacles that could come up and how am I going to effectively deal with them if they show up?
It's also a good you know, trick up your sleeve to have because then you're not surprised. You're sort of like, well I sort of pre-planned for something like this. And lo and behold it did happen. And now I'm more confident in what I need to, to get back up, rather than going into frustration or meltdown mode saying oh my god what am I going to do now because I was just riding on my plan A, where I was just I was just so intent on nobody getting sick, right, this week, and boom, something happens so.
Desiree: Yeah do you have an example of a plan. A plan change that you needed to do where you needed to pull up a plan B?
Iva: Yes, I did. I mean, some of the things that I'm planning on doing this year, obviously require for me to have carved out blocks of time that I can solely dedicate on that. But we are in COVID times, and it could happen that tomorrow, schools can be can be shut down. And then I have my kids at home, and then what? So those are the things that it helps to say, okay well if that happened to be the scenario, how could I effectively deal with that situation, while still aiming to get to the goals that I need to get.
And then, and then you reverse-engineer and you say well, what does that mean? That means that the kids are going to be here, it means that their schedule at home looks like this, then it means that the times that I have available are like this. That means that maybe instead of one week that is going to take me it’s two weeks to accomplish the same amount of things. Maybe it means that you know, I need to find a babysitter. Maybe it means that I need to schedule more playdates or talk to other parents and see how we can take turns, taking care of the kids, you know?
So it's, I guess it's very exciting times for all of us, when we are building our businesses, when we are passionate about what we're doing, when we are encountering such amazing women mentors, friends, partners along the way. And we are riding that wave of saying, we are offering the world our gifts, and we are pursuing our passions, and also we are hopefully happily raising a family, happily living a life with our partners that have some fun in it, has some fun in it or that you know, you have those memorable moments, like you said, at the beginning. That you had this amazing lunch, despite the fact that you hadn't been able to get much done workwise, but just to take pleasure in those little things and make it all about harmony, that is really all about harmony and how we flow and blend into it within this journey.
Desiree: That’s right and we need to take the positives out of each and every situation. If you didn't get that done, but you got a lot more out of spending time with your children, or with your significant other or with doing something for yourself. And it's about, yeah, accepting that. Being grateful for it, and just making sure you put everything in harmony.
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The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P Moran and Michael Lennington