Having a written plan of action is like creating a contract with yourself to focus on high-value activities each day.
I've been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. Before I developed a daily plan of action, I lived in a world of distraction, chaos, and confusion--which started to take a toll on my business as an advisor. So I created a template that I call the daily progress report and that I use with my time-management clients.
Like me, you've probably found the need to develop some sort of daily planning strategy. Maybe your default strategy is shower planning: You wake up in the morning, hop into the shower, and review in your mind the overwhelming number of projects and tasks before you. Or perhaps you're a to-do list planner: Using a to-do list is one step above shower planning because it at least sorts through the hundreds of unfinished tasks you thought of in the shower.
A real daily plan of action, however, focuses your limited time on the most valuable activities--those activities that will drive your business. Those high-value activities include: calling more prospects, holding more face-to-face client meetings, telling more people about the products and services you offer, and asking more people to do business with you. When you increase the number of high-value actions, you will grow your business.
How to Build a Daily Plan of Action
Any daily plan of action begins with a series of questions:
>What is on my calendar?
>What projects am I working on? What are the next steps I need to take?
>Is today the best day to work on that project?
>Do I have any deadlines?
>Is someone waiting on me to complete a task?
>What is on my to-do list?
>What is the highest and best use of my time today?
>What actions move me closer to my longer-term goals?
>What additional supplies or information do I need to complete a task?
>Can I complete the task by myself?
>How can I narrow down my to-do list?
>What activity should I work on first?
>How long will each activity take to complete?
>When should I work on each task?
You then filter the unlimited number of tasks you could work on in any given day into the highest value activities you will commit to work on for that particular day.
Where to begin? Take just seven minutes each night to begin to create your plan of action for the next day. Use that time to create a typical to-do list. At this point, it doesn't matter if the task is high value or low value, or if the task is a work project or a personal project. Just use the seven minutes to write down everything you need to do.
Then in the morning, take seven minutes to review and recalibrate your daily plan of action. Plans change, a client drops by, or you receive an unexpected phone call. Daily planning requires flexibility and agility. It is a best practice to review and recalibrate your plan based on changing circumstances.