In previous articles of this mini-series, we have talked about planning well, finishing well, and giving well. As the new year beckons on the doorstep, there is one other important aspect to wrap up a year (and a quarter), and this is preparing well.
What does it mean to prepare well?
You have planned the next quarter, and you are finishing up the work for this quarter. But there is one necessary step that will give you a strong start, and it is this: preparing well. It is not enough to have a plan. You must also prepare yourself, your system, and your team for the next phase.
Here are some things you should be doing this week to prepare well for next week.
Clear Your Slate
The reason people focus on making resolutions or setting goals for a new year is because they get a clean slate, a chance to begin anew. A new blank calendar and a new planner provide a fresh start. Where possible, clear the slate of the old year’s overwhelm by making a list and setting it aside, then treat the new year as a clean slate. Clear your desk, file documents, and clean up your email to the extent possible. All of these actions help you go into the new year with a clear mind.
Instead of starting with overwhelm, start with intention.
Set Your Intentions
Last year aside for now, how do you want the new year to look? List all that you are thinking of personally and professionally. Do you see a pattern? Often, you will see a theme develop for the quarter or the year. For some, it is one word. For others, there may be a cadence. Ponder your list and your previously set goals long enough, and you will find that pattern that sets a foundation you can hold to solidly. This exercise prepares your mind for the things to come.
Note Your Events
First, on your calendar, note significant events. These are your time commitments to yourself, your family and friends, your company, and others.
But rather than enter them all as you normally would, consider each one. Do they fit the intention you have set? Do they match your values? Do you still need or want to participate? Do you physically have the time to accommodate the commitments?
Then, adversely, are there any events you need to add? These often tie to values and may include time with your spouse or family, or perhaps there are classes you want to take that tie to your intentions. In a world of increased disconnection, are there any connections you need to re-establish?
Establish Your Routines
While some may see routines as boring standard fare, great leaders know they are the secret to success. These are the things that keep things moving quickly and without conscious thought throughout a day, week, month, and quarter. They provide a solid foundation. Failing to establish them will drain your energy, time, and bank account.
To prepare for the next phase of life and business, review your current routines and ask yourself what routines you need to add so your days and weeks flow more smoothly. What routines can you establish to alleviate decision fatigue?
Be sure to write them down and place them prominently, where you will see them daily. Otherwise, out of sight will be out of mind, and exhausting chaos will ensue.
Set Your Systems
With intentions set, events noted, and routines established, you have a clear runway for the remaining activities of life and business, which would be categorized as projects. Projects are those things that have an established beginning and end.
It is important to note that most individuals, companies, and teams can accommodate no more than five projects at a time, so be sure to plan accordingly. Project sizes vary, so you will need to take some time to determine what constitutes a quarter-sized project versus a month-sized project for your company and your team.
Once you have those defined, set up your systems to get ready for action. Define your milestones and add them to your calendar, set up your project files, set up your project management tool, define your team and resources. Taking time to mentally walk through a project has the potential to save countless hours in the coming quarter. Walk through the process, anticipate the challenges, and pre-develop solutions. These things and more can and should be done before you begin.
Review Your Backlog
Now, back to your previous year’s unfinished goals. Are there any that are no longer relevant or that should be moved forward for future consideration? Sorting those out, you are left with last year’s backlog of things that still matter.
With your new intentions set, you can now identify gaps for bringing in the old items. Do you need to focus on three new projects instead of five, in order to make room for the old? Do you need to hire additional help? Are there automations you can make? Can you alter the goals to make them more easily accomplished?
Reviewing the backlog in this way helps you determine if they really matter after all. And it helps you to see the reality of your commitments.
Take some time this week to do the all-important preparation for the new year (and quarter) that begin next week. You’ll be glad you did!
- Clear your slate.
- Set your intention.
- Note your events.
- Establish your routines.
- Set your systems.
- Review your backlog.
For resources on finding your strengths, maximizing your impact, and growing yourself and your business, click here. Helping you lead in your strengths and with purpose is our mission.
Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after executive coach, mentor, consultant, and speaker worldwide. Deb is well versed in business operations and in the importance of asking key questions most business leaders won’t ask themselves. She brings deep experience in leadership development, strategy, high performance team building and effective communication. She has a passion for leading people to discover and maximize their strengths as well as those of fellow team members, while offering advanced strategies to achieve high performance. Deb is the perfect fit if you’re ready to take your leadership and impact to the next level!