It is no surprise, I love a good plan. I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about the importance of quarterly planning. Do you want to know how I plan out my quarter in under an hour? Let’s do it together.
The quarter is under way, but it’s not too late to create your plan for the next three months. I spent the beginning of the week feeling like I should have a plan already in place and trying not to panic that I didn’t have it figured out yet. This year has gone by in the blink of an eye, and I’ve been busy launching a new brand – Focus Sessions – and helping my Let’s Collective clients build momentum in their businesses.
Before I knew it, the new quarter was in full swing. So I took a deep breath and went back to what I know works. Five steps and less than an hour later, I had a working plan for the quarter, and I’m ready to meet my goals head on.
So, if you are still feeling like you need a solid plan for this new quarter, I’ve got you covered. Just follow these 5 steps, set aside an hour, and get to planning. You’ll feel so much better when it’s done!
1. Set your intention for the quarter.
This isn’t a goal, a project, or your target income. It’s more about the feel you want for the quarter. I choose a word of the year and a word for each quarter to keep my focus on that intention.
Come up with a word for your quarterly intention; one that will inspire – and act as a filter. As you make decisions that affect your business and personal life, you’ll see if they move you more towards this intention.
One example of an intention word is expand. I want my business to expand, I want my brand to expand in who it is serving, and I want to learn more and expand my knowledge and skill set.
2. List 3 things that need to happen to meet your intention.
Think about three overarching things that need to happen for you to feel the way you want to feel in this quarter. These aren’t to-do items or even projects yet, but buckets that your projects and activities will fit into.
To fit my intention to expand, I need to:
- Refine my message and offers
- Build the community around Focus Sessions and grow our membership
- Engage in mind-opening activities to expand my knowledge
What 3 things do you need to do to meet your intention? Write them down.
3. Break these down into projects.
Sometimes we want so much to get to work that we skip the two big-picture steps that we just did. While you check some things off your list that way, they may not be the right things or the things that can really move your business forward.
Once you have your big picture set, it’s time to start figuring out how to get it done. This next step is to break down each of your three overarching ideas into three projects or actions that you need to take.
So, to refine my message and offers, I’m going to:
- Work with my team to tweak messaging for this new phase of business
- Refine my sales funnels around our Focus Session program
- Rejigger the structure of my programs to focus more on custom one on one consulting
To create a larger online community, I’m going to:
- Expand to LinkedIn and Pinterest
- Start a Focus Podcast
- Be a guest on 3 podcasts this quarter
To expand my knowledge, I’m going to:
- Enroll in a month-long course on a topic I’ve always wanted to learn more about
- Download and listen to two new podcasts
- Invite a business friend out to coffee to pick their brain
Once you finish this step, you should have three overarching ideas or activity buckets and nine projects or actions.
4. Break down each project into all of its parts.
Grab your post-it notes and a pen. This is where we start to break it all down into actionable items.
Think about the first project from step 3. Write down everything you need to do, think, learn, outsource, or obtain to complete that project. Put each idea on a separate post-it note.
This is also a good time to braindump all the less exciting things you need to do that might fall through the cracks: find a CPA, set up a better new client system, switch mail service providers … Whether or not they apply to your big goals, they’ll take up less brainspace and energy if you put them down on paper.
5. Map out your projects.
Last step – you’re about to have a plan!
Move your post-it notes around to order and organize your steps. What needs to happen first? What happens next? Are there steps that can happen at the same time? Are there steps you can outsource to your team or a short term contractor?
Then start to set project steps into months, weeks, and days if you need to. Remember you don’t have to do it all at once! Some actions may not get started until the end of the quarter, and that’s okay! Trying to do everything at once can lead straight to overwhelm.
Remember, even the best plan will pivot and flow, but taking the time to lay it out gives you the framework you need to adjust as necessary and still keep moving you toward your goals, all while having the kind of quarter you want.
You did it! You planned your quarter! I recommend revisiting your plan regularly, so keep your post-it’s handy. Then when you plan your next quarter, you can transfer over any items you didn’t complete from this quarter and start from there.
Didn’t get your planning done? Join a Focus Sessions today to get your quarter planned out. If you’ve finished the planning and are ready to take action, you can start checking things off your list in a Focus Session as well.
Bonus step: Set personal goals and plan in down time.
Now that you have your business life mapped out, why not set some personal and family intentions as well? I know I’m good about getting things done for my business but not so good about doing things for myself.
Making space for family goals, and for self-care and personal goals is essential to avoiding burn out and that feeling that you work all.the.time (even when you love what you do).
You can create a system to help you stay on top of personal goals — whether it’s read 5 books, or write a book, or learn to knit — by following the 5 steps we used for business you can reach these goals too.
Then make sure you put your personal action steps on your calendar along with some down time. My favorite way to add personal action steps into my business action steps is to use my Weekly Time-Blocking Template.