I love the beginning of each quarter because I get to start fresh with a new 90-day plan. Crafting a 90-day plan makes my annual goals seem shiny and new. 90 days is short enough that you don’t lose focus but long enough that you can make significant progress toward goals. It’s really the perfect amount of time for a plan.
In this fast-paced world, strategies or tactics that you decided on at the beginning of the year may be outdated 6 months later. Breaking down your annual plan into 90-day plans gives you the flexibility you need to achieve your goals.
Last weekend I did my mid-year review and wrote my 90-day plan for the third quarter. Now, I’m refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to put my plan into motion.
Here’s the process that I follow when crafting a 90-day plan.
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Do a quarterly review & YTD review
If you haven’t reviewed your progress, then that’s the place to start. Look at each of your annual goals. Which goals are on target and which do you need to focus on? Think about what’s working well and what needs improvement. Also, look at your plan from last quarter. Did you accomplish everything on your list?
Here’s a post on I how I did my mid-year review; it has questions to prompt you as you go through the process. One of the things I learned is that I hadn’t been referring back to my 90-day plan during the quarter. I wrote the plan and stuck it in my Filofax, but I don’t think I looked at it again. As a result, I felt scattered and unfocused. You’d better believe I have an action plan to correct that for the next 90 days!
Your 90-day plan should be an extension of your annual plan
Once you’ve reviewed your progress, it’s time to break down your annual goals into quarterly goals. They should line up pretty evenly. For example, I have annual goals for net income, pageviews, and email subscribers. I also have smaller goals for each of these items for the quarter. Achieving the quarterly goals puts me on track to achieve the annual goals.
However, you don’t have to include every category from your annual plan in your 90-day plan. There may be areas that you are going to focus on more in the 1st quarter than the 3rd, etc. For example, launching a course is in my 3rd quarter plan, but I didn’t work on it all during the first half of the year because I was concentrating on getting the blog launched.
There may also be seasonal considerations in your planning. I’ll be vacationing for a week in August and another week in September. An item on my current 90-day plan is to have enough blog posts and newsletters pre-written to cover the time that I’m out of town. I want to be able to relax and enjoy myself while on vacation.
Include “non-business” goals
I’ve written before about my quest for work + life balance. I spent too many of my corporate years neglecting my personal life in favor of work. I know that in order to achieve any semblance of balance, I need to include non-business goals & strategies in my plans.
My plan includes physical goals, goals related to my home, volunteer work etc. I’ve done really well this year developing a routine for physical activity and I enjoy the time spent exercising. However, I know that’s a habit that is so easy for me to backslide on. It requires constant vigilance, so I continue to add it to my quarterly, monthly, and even daily plans.
Pick ONE thing to focus on for the quarter
I wrote a bit about this on Tuesday. It’s based on a book by Gary Keller called The One Thing, where he asks you to think about:
What is the one thing I can do right now, that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary?
90 days is the perfect amount of time to focus on a high-value project. Think about the progress that you could make by picking ONE thing every quarter and really giving it your all!
My ONE thing for this quarter is to write & launch my first e-course. Sure, I have other things that have to be done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. But making a commitment to the e-course as my ONE thing means that it gets priority over other things that I could be doing. I even have it bolded in my 90-day plan and included the words – “this is my ONE thing.”
Be sure to include your action plans
This is a PLAN, not simply a list of goals. How are you going to achieve your goals? What actions are you going to take in this 90-day period?
In my quarterly plan, I include 10 goals (half are work goals and half are life goals). Some are numeric, such as number of pageviews or email subscribers. Some are projects to be completed – like the e-course.
Then, I include 10 strategies or tactics that will help me achieve those goals. For example, as a strategy to complete the e-course, I’ve said that I’ll spend 50% of my time working directly on the course. A second strategy to gear my blog posts and newsletters to the same topic, so that I can repurpose that content.
How will you track your progress?
You need to be able to see what you’ve accomplished. There are lots of ways you could track your progress – in a spreadsheet, on a printable, in an Evernote checklist, or an app. Choose a method that works for you.
I use a combination. I have a spreadsheet with annual numeric goals, which is broken down by quarter and month, so I can see exactly where I stand on the metrics. My quarterly plan (with goals and strategies) is printed out and included in my Filofax.
I also have all my projects and tasks in Asana, where I can access them on my laptop, iPad, or phone. This is how I stay on top of the day-to-day activities derived from my 90-day plan.
I mentioned earlier that I didn’t do a good job of referring to my quarterly plan during the 2nd quarter. So, I’ve added a checkbox to my weekly review process to look at my quarterly plan. I already had a checkbox for monthly goals, so I hope this step will keep me more in touch with the bigger picture.
How do you stay on track with your annual goals? What do you think about the 90-day plan?
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