Planning in the midst of a chaotic world
I am a planner. I don’t do well operating in chaos or uncertainty.
But in my line of work, my days are never the same and I constantly need to be flexible and creative. Therefore, I had to find the middle ground in order to keep myself on task AND leave time for unexpected things!
So…how do I do it?
Create a grand plan.
When you drive somewhere, you either know where you are going or have a map/GPS. Do you do the same at work? Unfortunately, many nonprofits and small businesses organizations don’t have plans to guide them. They don’t have to be complicated. My operations plan includes marketing deadlines as well as mundane items such as billing, marketing schedules, tax deadlines, etc. arranged by day, week and month so I stay on task. My marketing plan is more conceptual, but provides needed direction. The benefit: By knowing what tasks are due ahead of time and scheduling them appropriately, I am able to be more creative for my clients.
Review the grand plan regularly.
We all have stories of grand plans that took hours to create, but never saw the light of day. If you create a plan, use it and review it weekly with staff. Ask if there are any questions or issues with deadlines and adjust deadlines, projects as needed. Review your marketing plan often to see what is working/not working. The benefit: You stay on task, staff knows what is happening and you actually implement great ideas you had six months ago.
Create planning time and make it non-negotiable.
This is my home run. I block off every Monday morning - no meetings and no phone calls allowed before 1 p.m. unless there is an emergency. I only answer emails during breaks. I spend this time reviewing my marketing plan and client projects, setting up my week and reviewing the prior week. Not everyone can devote 4-5 hours, but scheduling regular non-negotiable time is essential. I have been doing this for six months and it has made a significant impact on my business. The benefit: Knowing you have time blocked off forces you to review the plans and increases your likelihood of implementing them.
I am a firm believer that a little bit of structure allows for greater creativity and flexibility. I encourage you to give it a try!
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Amy Wong, president, Dot Org Solutions
Amy believes the world is a better place because of the special work that nonprofits do for our communities for making them better places to live, work and raise families. And as president of Dot Org Solutions, she is a champion for small businesses for the role they play in creating jobs, delivering important products and services, and keeping the economy strong.