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008: How To Plan Your Weekly Actions & Nail Your Goals

So, today we're talking about how to nail your goals and get weekly action plan in place. So, what's the problem? The problem is we have so much to do as new entrepreneurs. The list just grows and grows and the more things we learn, the more things we add to the list and each week and we're feeling really, really busy.

We start to get a little bit lost. We can't see the wood for the trees. Like literally, what should I do this week? The list is just so long. I'm not even sure where to start and we become discouraged really, really quickly. But what I've learned is that actually planning is so important when it comes to setting up your week. And in fact, if you spend just 10% of your time planning, you can make the 90% where you're actually doing the actions so much more productive - and even more importantly, so much more fun and relaxing.

One of the reasons we've become entrepreneurs and we're running our own businesses is because we want control over how we spend our time and how we feel. And we want to feel great about our work and when it's overwhelming and there's so much to do, that can rapidly feel like a massive amount of pressure. And suddenly being an entrepreneur feels like a massive mountain to climb instead of joyful and fun as it should be.

And that's why the planning is so important because that can really change how you feel about your working week.

Now, everyone loves a to do list, or at least I think everyone does! Maybe you're sitting there thinking, ‘no, not so much’, but even if your to-do list means a scrap of paper where you just write down a few things you've got to do, your list is only going to be as good as the things that are actually written on it.

Now it won't surprise you to know that I actually really love a good, effective to do list. I'm not going to cover exactly how to do that today because we're covering the bit that's a little bit up front from that - which is deciding even what to put on the to-do list in the first place. What's on your list? No, really it should be the things that move the needle for your business.

Zero in on what will level up your business, what are the really, really important things?

Well, okay. So first of all, what are you trying to achieve? And when I say what are you trying to achieve, I don't necessarily mean just today or tomorrow. I mean like medium term, what is it that you need to accomplish? That's going to move the needle for your business.

Now, although a slightly different subject, I want to just raise what those sorts of things might be. Because if you're sitting there thinking, well, I don't know. I mean, what is it that I want to achieve? What should I be looking to do? I'm newer at this than many as you know, but you only need to be a couple of steps ahead. And I really want to share something just in case you haven't got this bit yet.

I've recognized from all the learning that I'm doing, that there are three basic areas that you have to tackle in order to grow and scale your business. The first piece is the ‘know like and trust’. You've probably heard that before - that people need to get to know you. They need to like what you're saying. And then they have to actually start to trust you in order for you to ever convert them into being a paying customer. And the main ways of doing this is with one good piece of weekly long form content. It seems to be a really common way that people are using to bring people in, to know them a lot better.

That could be a podcast like this. It could be a blog; it could be a weekly video. Whatever it is you choose; it should be something that really talks to your ideal clients and customers about the value that you add. Whichever long form content you pick, you have to be consistent about it. You have to get in a rhythm and put it out there every single week and start talking about the themes that you can add the value in.

And the second thing is, once people start to get to know you, you would want a way to make sure that you can convert them onto your list. This is where you can own the communications. Having people on your list is so fundamental. As I'm learning more and more about it, nearly every person out there that's talking about how to market, will talk to you about the importance of building a list. So that's really, really important to understand how to build your list and how to actually nurture your list once people are on it.

And the third way is actually serving by selling. So you need an offer. You need something that you sell. It's great that people got to know you. It's amazing that you might convert them onto your list, but what exactly have you got to sell? And from very early days, this is how I started. All I had to sell was a coaching hour. That was how, you know, as simple as that to start. But obviously as you move through and progress, you're going to have more sophisticated things that you want to sell from programs to courses, to packages and everything else that you can imagine that your ideal client might like to buy from you.

So, they're the three basic areas. When I'm thinking about how to now my goals, I think, well, which one of these do I really need to be working on? And it's a little bit cart before horse, isn't it? You think to yourself, ‘well, I can't sell anything ‘till people know, like, and trust me, but if I'm spending all my time on know, like and trust and building that out and I haven't got anything to sell, then am I wasting my time?’. And it is a really delicate balance. And I found that I've had to navigate that quite carefully. That's why I said before that the first thing I offered was coaching session with me. And you can do that really, really easily from the beginning. So there's no excuses really to not be working on all three of those at some point over the next 30, 60, and 90 days.

But it does take a bit of thought about how you want to approach each one. So when you've picked your key goal for the next 30 days, you need to break that down into how you approach each week. And that's really what the theme of this episode is all about - getting that week really, really well planned. So you can just have an outstanding, productive, successful week that makes you feel brilliant and move your business on. So, after you've asked yourself, ‘what's my goal?’, you need to ask what are the three key tasks that I need to work on this week towards my goal? Obviously there's a bit of thinking there about priorities, which things need to happen first, which things are most important. So let me give you an example.

So, I asked myself, what are the three tasks that are absolute critical? And I've got to be my priority this week. This is for last week I came up with, I have to do an outline for my webinar. I had to write a project plan and I really wanted to get some feedback from my last cohort so I could iterate and improve the program for January. So then when I looked at my next important question, which is, how long will it take you? Could you do it in a week? I thought to myself, well, how realistic is this? Let’s look at each of those three tasks again, because you really have to balance what's achievable, but also stretch yourself. You don't want to tick your three tasks off by Tuesday and say, Oh, that was a good week. Um, I know I'll just chill in front of Netflix and no, that's not going to really help you move your business on.

And it's about gauging how well you work. And it's a very personal thing but consider how can I stretch myself enough without creating overwhelm and actually, you know, having a bit of an own goal through not being able to work towards it. So I'm going to stretch that one a little bit further and I'm going to say to myself, could I not only write the outline, but complete one section this week? I thought, you know what? Yeah, yeah, I could. So I just revised my, my task list, a little to stretch myself to do that one section.

And then when I looked at getting feedback, I thought, yeah, I could totally get the feedback, but I've perhaps thinking to myself that upon getting feedback, I could immediately iterate and like rewrite my program. And I realized actually that's a much bigger task when it comes to taking on that feedback. I need time to really think it through. I want to make sure that it really does add value to my January program. And actually there's no need to do it this week. I'm well ahead of time, I can definitely make that next week's task or even something that I think about over two to three weeks. So on that basis, I was able to sharpen up those three tasks and make sure that you know what I've got them just right for this week. So, I really feel like I'm doing my best work and I'm going to be able to move the needle.

The next really important question is what is my Monday task?

The Monday Task is the hardest, most challenging thing you have to do all week.

And I know tackling that first thing on a Monday does not necessarily fill you with joy. I'm sure that Monday mornings don't always run smoothly. In fact, it's Monday and I'm recording this right now and this morning, um, my kids, they never want to get out of bed on a Monday morning. And fortunately, schools are running here in London at the moment. So it was like, come on, get out of bed. We've got to get you off to school. And they moaned and they didn't have what they needed for the day. And it was just a tricky start to the day. So by the time I actually get into my work, it's only natural to want to slip into something really, really easy.

You know what? Maybe I'll just do a few emails, just ease into the day, but that is totally not the right approach. And the reason that I'm recording this right now on a Monday morning is because for me, podcasting and getting my episodes recorded is absolutely key. It's a massive needle mover for my business because I know how much I really want to communicate this stuff. So Monday morning, I did not allow myself to drop into anything easy or simple. I knew that I really wanted to write and record the content for this episode you're listening to now. And I would just say for every entrepreneur Monday morning, it's such an important time. And in fact, every morning, every first minute that you sit down at your desk is an important time to achieve something that could move the needle.

Because ultimately when you achieve something hard early on, it really builds your confidence and your motivation just soars.

Once it's done, it makes everything else in the day so much easier. And although we really do feel that we want to drop into doing the simple small tasks, not least because if you've got a to-do list that looks like mine, it's quite a lot of things on it. But actually when you look at it, it's like, well, that was easy. That's just replied to an email that might be just make sure that you press publish on something or send something. And it's like, actually I could get through maybe five or six of these all in half an hour. So the tendency is to say, I want to tick off five or six things. So, I'm going to do them now because it'll make me feel good to see those ticks and you know what, sometimes it can feel good. But then when you've got the hard thing to do, that one thing, that actually takes a half a day, that's just left by the time you hit lunchtime or after lunch, are you really going to go back and do it?

Only you know the answer to that question because you know how you work. But my experience is that it's unlikely because the day kind of gets ahead of you by then and something else pops up, you start doing other things. You know, as a mum I'm constantly balancing what I need to do for the family and what I need to do for my work. And that might mean that actually I need to reply to an insurance thing or just something that's household related and suddenly the afternoon comes, and I think, oh no, I really have to do that. I have to reply and fill that form in for the school or, you know, many, many things - you know the list, but then suddenly that hard thing that will take two hours for my work just doesn't feel like something that I can really get my brain behind. Not least because my brain, by the time I've had lunch is kind of a little bit softer than it was in the morning.

So really think about how you deal with your hard things. And, you know, you're list because you've just made it. What are the three tasks, which of those is hard, break those down and then really start doing them - first thing on a Monday. And first thing, every single morning for me, I might example I was using earlier about the, um, Academy that I was putting together. I was thinking, Hmm, you know what? The project plan is actually the hardest thing to do because I really, really need to think deeply about it. And I need to make sure I don't miss anything. And I also recognize that once I'd done the project plan, actually a lot of the other stuff will get a lot easier because I would have a bit of a clue about what the other things I need to do.

It makes it easier for next week when I set up my needle moving tasks. So last week I sat down on the Monday morning and I write my project plan. And actually, it was such the right thing to do because there this week has been easier just to have a look at that project plan and go, Oh, now I know what the next important needle moving tasks are that I need to prioritize this week to come. So now you've got a really good idea of what's on your list to do this week. What are the needle moving tasks?

Here's the question, what is going to stop you completing those tasks? What is it that will derail you? Now this isn't a difficult question. This is a question that you should be able to answer because it's the same things that stop and derail you every week.

We all know what our lives look like and how busy and hectic they are and what distractions come up. We know that when we set an intention to do a certain piece of work and it didn't happen, you can probably work out why. More importantly, what can I do to stay on track instead? Well, the best way of approaching this is to actually plan for these contingencies upfront and give yourself no excuses. So one of the things that comes up for nearly everybody I know is the social media scrolling. You know, I mean, we're running our businesses online. So naturally we're on social media platforms, but the distraction opportunity is immense. And we suddenly start scrolling and we start answering messages and having a look at what other people are doing and dropping into a group, you know, the form, you know how it happens.

One way you can tackle this is to simply do it at the end of the day or in the afternoon. So that way you're not going to get distracted from doing the difficult, deep work in the morning. Well, something that I've started doing more recently is to set a timer because the time just seems to disappear and you get into social media and then half an hour is gone or even an hour. So actually setting a time and saying, I'm going to do this for 10 minutes or 20 minutes. And then having the strength to actually stop when the timer goes off and making sure that you're actually maximizing your productive time during the day as much as possible. And another really, really good piece of advice that I've heard recently is...

When it comes to social media, always do your content before you consume social media.

So remember, it's your work to use social media. And if you find yourself just getting into the socials or starting to chat, you've gone off track.

So, think about why you're on the platform in the first place. You should always be putting out your content. You should always be doing important communication. If that means making sure that you're dropping into the DMs for business reason first, before you sort of meander around and see what other people are doing and start to use it as a consumer.

And what if the thing that's actually stopping you moving forward is a lack of confidence in a particular area. Something that crops up a lot is fear of being visible. In fact, it's such a big thing. I'm going to do an episode on this solely in the future. But if, for example, you've set yourself a task of going live into your Facebook group, and yet you didn't do it... Was it simply that you couldn't find the time, or you didn't know what to say? Or was there something deeper behind it?

Was it that you've been consistently putting that off because you're scared, because you're worried about how you're going to come across - all the reasons that you might be scared of being visible? Maybe it's the imposter syndrome showing up, or something else, but either way, take a good look at those tasks that you've set yourself and ask, is there something that's going to stop me doing this because of a lack of confidence in this area?

Don't worry if that's the case. It's just a great opportunity right at the start of the week to recognize that that's something that could derail you and give you an opportunity to work out how to overcome it. Something that I do quite a lot is to prime myself. If I know it's something that I'm going to feel quite nervous about doing, before I sit there and then give up, I'll recognize, Oh, you're nervous about this. Okay. What could you do? Just a simple thing. Sometimes I just put on some really great music and dance around for 10 seconds just to give myself a boost. And then I go right now, do it! And for me, that can sometimes just be enough to just take the leap and actually get the action done. And I feel so much better after it's complete.

And last but not least, how are you going to celebrate completing your tasks? We don't celebrate enough. I mean, I don't know if it's a woman thing or an alpha thing, or I don't know, entrepreneur thing. I just don't know. All I know is that I am terrible at celebrating my successes and the more I talk to people within my group and on my program, they say exactly the same thing.

When I invite people to celebrate people are like yes! And celebrate ourselves, celebrate each other, celebrate the achievements because it's not easy.

And every time we level up and every time we do something that's hard, we should acknowledge that. Not least because of course it fires up our endorphins. And we all know that when you've got those going, you're going to want to do that more. So why not do a bit of a biohack and encourage ourselves to achieve even more because it feels so great. And celebrating is so important because it also allows us to actually acknowledge our successes and actually set targets - say, well, if I achieve this, this is a success. Now, what it means to celebrate is totally up to you. For me, it can be something as easy as having a little dance or something as lovely as booking a haircut, or maybe having a meal out with the family if COVID allows, but it could be anything. And it could be something as nice as having a nice cup of tea and just feeling good or journaling about it but do take a moment and just register it.

Something that I've gotten a habit of doing lately is I keep a little spreadsheet when I feel like I've achieved something that previously I hadn't even imagined I could achieve. I just put it on the list. And when I'm feeling a little bit low and a little bit unconfident, I go back, look at the list and I say, Oh my goodness, wow! I established an email list. I did that! I put out my first Facebook ad. I did it. I did that! And I just imagine a point in the future, you know, maybe a year from now, certainly two years from now, I can look back at that list and just feel amazing at how long the list is and how far I've come. And just recognizing that is such an important way to keep moving forward with your achievements.

So, in summary, weekly planning is where you're taking control of your destiny. You're making your actions more valuable and respecting your own time. None of us want to be working 24/7. We've all got a dream of keeping the hours that we do as minimal as possible and maximizing the output. So, do that by being really intentional at the beginning of your week, use the questions we've just gone through now to really set up your week in the best way possible.

So last question is when do I do that? Now, I know it's really tempting to do that Monday morning, but like we've just talked about, Monday morning should be something really, really hard. Not, list-making not even answering questions about your priorities.

Really, it's a Sunday night job. Now. I never really liked to work with much on a Sunday night, but I do always allow myself just 20 minutes, sometimes half an hour to do this task every single week, but doing on a Sunday night, it just allows you to really hit the ground running on a Monday morning.

And it allows you to drop straight into that hard thing to do, because once you've done that the rest of the week is just so much easier, and you get into flow. So, choose a Sunday night if you can. Now I've put all of these questions in a template for you. So you can just grab that guide. It's called “How to have your most productive week ever”. And I'm putting the link in the show notes. So don't worry if you haven't made notes about all the questions you need to ask, you can just grab that and you can just fill it in each and every week. Have an action filled week, speak soon. Bye now!

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