Stranding, a work i progress

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Stranding, a work i progress

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Or how to create the open space to think and act strategically.
Have you ever been so busy that you don’t have time to do the right thing? And even end up doing everything and achieving nothing?

I know! It feels that way for me sometimes, and I’m not talking about matching spare socks or cleaning the windows. I’m talking about starting new client relationships, or creating a new product line, or entering a new market, or reducing costs, or increasing effective marketing spend.

When there are all the day to day activities to complete as well, such as preparation for meetings, presentations, sales proposals, let alone the delivery, product development. Oh and that that favour you offered to a friend who has chosen just this minute to call it in.

All the things I’m doing are useful and valuable, but I’m left with the sense that once this period is over I will not be busy, there are some strategic sales (and marketing) things that I really should have done.

I try to keep myself under control with a combination of forward planning, healthy habits and a couple of software tools.

My forward planning involves separating my business practice into a number of strands, such as growing existing clients, new program clients, new business areas, and a light framework of planned activity for each for the streams. My portfolio practice can be seen as complex from the outside (not helped by how I describe it) with coaching, teaching , social enterprise research and writing that I achieve, all on the go at the same time. Each strand with its different clients, momentum, skills and experience that I give and gain. Oh and the clubs I belong to and run.

So what is this planning activity I use? Well I like to think and plan the separate strands of the business in isolation, looking at my vision, my long term goals (about a year) medium term goals (about a quarter) and short term activities on a monthly and rolling basis. I like to remind myself of what is currently working (and what is not) and how I expect to achieve my personal vision. Answering a question: how is thishelping me achieve my vision?

The light touch comes as I will layout the activities within a loose time frame. This loose time frame allows me to bring in my projects ahead of schedule if my energy/purpose allows and also to deliver on the goal with an intense focus if I need to and the timeframe is coming to completion.

Another element of the loose touch is that after considering what’s right for each strand of my practice I take a view that I can only focus on two strands of activity at any one time. It is true that I can work with more businesses as time allows, I can maintain relationships and develop projects, BUT I don’t place an expectation on myself that I can move forward at a pace in more than these two strands at any one time. I don’t experiment on more than 2 strands at a time, so in any one week I may shift my focus from one strand to another, perhaps parking a project in favour of another as my energy, opportunity or time allows, but I will not deliberately move forward on more than too.

So having a forward view of each strand, lets me take the planning for each strand ‘off the bookshelf’ (in my case taking the plastic  folder from a box file) and into my immediate action horizon. I have organised my tools to support this slide-in/slide-out approach, with my filing, my email correspondence and my task-list tool (Things from Cultured Code) all aligned with the same naming and colour codes.

I also tend to break down potentially negative tasks into smaller tasks ahead of time, so that I can achieve towards the goal in the simplest way. That my choice of strand based on energy not urgency is not adversely affected by my potential dislike of the task in hand. 

Tax return? I used to hate it
My tax returns are one of these things that I have now planned so far ahead that this year it took just 30 minutes to enter the figures and review and check.

And yes this does involve keeping good records (a little and often is the tip here) and my record keeping is slanted towards filling in my taxes at the end of the financial year. My taxes used to be stressful time for me, but now it’s not.

Running so hard it’s hard to catch your breath?
And so it is for my coaching clients, women (and men) who are running so fast that don’t have time to catch a breath. Who know that there are more important things that they should be doing with their time, but that they are so often doing so fast that they don’t have time or space to undertake the reflective or strategic ‘right’ thing.

What techniques do you use to ‘park’ important topics, or keep others ticking over whilst you focus on other things? Let me know in the comments below ⬇️

#practisewhatyouteach #businesscoach #businesscoachforwomen 
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