Every top performer I know makes it part of their daily ritual to plan their day. They focus on their highest impact opportunities for the day and planning helps them stay focused. It is a practice I employ and also recommend. There is some debate though over if it is best to do it at the end of the day for the next day, or to do it as the first task for the current day. Most people, I believe, get this wrong by trying to choose. I close hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra revenue each year by doing it twice a day.
Several years ago, just before Dawn and I got married, my son (10 years old at the time) and I started to pack up our stuff for our move. Over a three week period, we disposed of 28 large 30-gallon trash bags. We relentlessly got rid of things we decided we did not need, would not use, or had not used in ages. This didn’t even include the large amount of items that we donated to the resale shop attached to a local children’s hospital. It was 840 gallons of trash that we disposed of! We only kept what we really liked, wanted, or needed.
We were pretty proud of ourselves for that.
Then we moved in with my beautiful wife. As we unpacked, we ended up taking out an additional 330 gallons more of trash — all from our stuff, not including things we found of Dawn’s that we really didn’t need as we combined stuff.. it was just things we should have gotten rid of already. For those of you keeping track, that’s another 11 large 30-gallon trash bags. We were on a roll with this consolidating!
Eight months later, my wife’s townhouse finally sold and we were moving again. On the way out we magically discovered another 360 gallons of junk (or 12 more trash bags), not including any of “her” stuff. If that wasn’t enough, upon unpacking again at our new place found another 8 bags (240 gallons) more. This last 8 bags of items we did not need were things we had already consciously decided twice 8 months earlier that we needed and decided the same thing less than a week earlier. Even with that being the case, upon opening the boxes and finding our treasures we’d ask ourselves “Why on earth did we decide to pack that up? What made us think it was worth the time and energy to pack, unpack and find a new place for?”
By the time this process was done, we had eliminated more items from our home after deciding they were worth keeping than we did when originally packing for that first move.
For many of us, we treat our schedules the same way. No matter how much thought we think we put into, we manage to leave some things on our schedule that really won’t add value to our business…low priority, low impact tasks that take up time we could be using to SELL MORE.
For this reason, I tend to plan my next day quickly in the evening. Then in the morning before I start my day, before I’ve read a single email, checked social media, or listened to new voicemails, I plan my day again. Overnight my subconscious has been reviewing my first draft and by morning it’s often clear to me that I’ve included items on my plan that aren’t high impact. In addition, my subconscious has found new things that I originally left off that will be much more productive for me. By doing this, I find that almost every day I end up with an extra hour dedicated towards finding new opportunities that I would not have had if I used my first draft.
Here is how the numbers worked out for me in 2014:
- In 2014 I closed over $1.8M in software and services revenue.
- There were about 250 business days in the year (for these purposes, I’ll assume I worked all of them).
- If an average business day had 8 hours of actual work in each that is 2,000 work hours for the year.
- The 1 extra hour each day from this process accounted for 12.5% of my year. Divide that into my sales for the year and it accounted for $225k over the year.
The extra time for doing the day planning the 2nd time probably accounts for 10 minutes a day or 41 hours for the year. That works out to $5,487 of revenue per hour that I invested in the extra planning. It was probably the most valuable time I spent on anything.
Here is a brief rundown of my own planning process:
- Write down the top 3, highest impact projects I’m working on. This could be planning an email, working on a book, planning a tele-summit, or calling a select set of leads or prospects.
- Write Down the top 3, highest impact tasks for each of those 3 projects.
- I star the highest priority project and the highest priority task in each project.
- I answer the following questions for myself:
* What deals are in play that require action today to move them forward in the sales cycle?
* What are my highest priorities today, no matter what?
* What will I do today for my health and vitality?
* What will I do today for my wife?
* What will I do today for my son?
* What will I learn today?
* What on this page can I delegate or outsource?
- Then I go to my schedule for the day and write in any items that are scheduled and can’t be moved without commitment from someone else. This includes appointments, scheduled phone calls, etc.
- I block off time on my calendar to prospect for new business. I consider calling existing accounts to find new opportunities to be part of prospecting. One of my core principles is “Always Be Prospecting” so that goes on the calendar first.
- I start scheduling time for the other items on my list, paying particular attention to the items that have the highest potential return.
To help you keep track of the sales days, here is a neat 1 page printable calendar for 2015.
With the potential return that comes from great planning, it’s definitely something I recommend everyone do twice. Do you plan your day? What is your planning ritual?