No good football coach goes into a big game without a plan. They know their players, they’ve studied their opponents and they’re clear about their objectives. But because the course of the game is unpredictable, they carry those laminated charts covered with play ideas and strategies. When plan A doesn’t work, they need to be able to shift to plan B, C or D quickly. There’s no time to waste going over what just went wrong with plan A, or making up a new plan from scratch—the clock is ticking, and they need to be able to change course quickly and confidently.
“Sarah, why are you talking about football coaching right now, instead of time management and productivity?”
Because we’re entering the fourth quarter, and the adaptability of your game plan is going to determine whether or not you feel like a winner by January 1st.
Your time management plan for the Fourth Quarter has to account for all possibilities.
People tend to think optimistically when making plans for the coming weeks and months. We think about positive outcomes. We picture ourselves being masters of time management and productivity, and give ourselves pep talks about how much we’re going to get done. At this time of year, most of us probably start getting excited about certain holidays or seasonal traditions that we love and look forward to.
That positive mindset is great, and important for productivity! I always want you to bring enthusiasm and confidence to the process of planning out your time. But when you’re genuinely expecting everything to go well, you’re not going to be prepared when you run into your first hurdle. You don’t have a plan to navigate that hurdle, and figuring that out is probably going to throw off some of your other plans.
Keep An Adaptable Game Plan
So, your game plan for the next three months needs to be adaptable—and to continue the football analogy, it needs to be designed with both offense and defense in mind. Here are some things to think about.
Planning offensively: What are the goals you’re going to attack during this quarter? What are the most important tasks going to be that are going to move you forward toward achieving those goals? What events or activities are coming up in your personal life these next months that are going to be non-negotiable?
Planning defensively: What are the distractions and frustrations that are coming up for you right now? What are the time management challenges that you can realistically expect to wrestle with during this quarter? Are there threats to your mental health or physical health that could affect your productivity over the next few months? Are there times of day or days of the week that tend to be especially challenging? How do you want to respond when things don’t go according to plan?
Incorporating both mindsets into your planning process lets you chart a course to a Q4 victory—whatever that looks like for your business and your life.
3 Action Steps for Planning Your Fourth Quarter
1. Notice what obligations are actually showing up for you this fall. Think about the events, tasks and activities that have been dominating your calendar lately. Maybe certain clients/projects/loved ones have been needing extra attention, or you’ve been spread thin with a ton of volunteer commitments at a child’s school. Notice which obligations are fueling and energizing you, and which ones are draining you.
2. Notice opportunities you can take advantage of to grow or improve your business. When you’re hyper-focused on the day-to-day work of running your business, it’s easy to miss out on opportunities that could help you court new clients, develop new skills, expand your network, etc. Take some time to think really intentionally about what opportunities have been floating around in your orbit lately. Are there networking or industry events you’ve been invited to but never seem to have time to attend? Continuing education and/or business development classes you’d like to sign up for? Are there any opportunities you could create for yourself?
3. Plan time to move the important goals forward around those things. Don’t get caught up in the business of the season. As you create your daily, weekly and monthly plans, only say yes to opportunities and obligations that are strategically important for your business and non-negotiable on the personal side.
Need Time Management Support to Make Your Plans Reality?
I know this is a time of year when time management and productivity start to get really challenging for a lot of reasons. You’re being pulled in a lot of directions, and you want to enjoy the fall and the upcoming holiday season without being completely stressed out about year-end goals.
I can help! Join me on October 19th for 5 Steps to Navigate the Demands on Your Time AND Achieve Your Goals. This one-hour masterclass will give you tools to create the kind of balanced productivity you crave, just in time for the final push toward the end of the year. There’s no cost, so all you need to do to join to sign up and reserve your spot!
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