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August 23, 2017

Being timetable driven (and how it helps you succeed)

Being timetable driven (and how it helps you succeed)There is a difference between being productive and being busy.

Being busy simply means filling your time with tasks that have very little impact on your overall business goals. This can be responding to emails, dealing with customers and handling staff. Being busy can also be referred to as working hard rather than working smart.

So, if you’re finding yourself working longer hours but on reflection, you are unsure of what you have achieved, this could be a good indication that you need to become more productive. Setting goals and becoming timetable driven is a great way to start this transition.

Set yourself a goal, make it a big one and make it specific

The first step is to set yourself a goal. However, not only does it need to be a big goal, it is important that it is specific.

The reason we recommend that you set yourself a big goal is because this that is what will motivate you. The goal also needs to be specific because you need to be able to measure it.

It can be tempting to set yourself the goal such as being the best in your geographical area or industry. Although initially this can be a fantastic motivational goal, it is very vague and therefore, can be very hard to achieve.

For example, how will you know when you have become the best? And do you know what you need to do to get there?

Another common goal is to increase turnover. However, again without a monetary amount attached to it, this is a target that is impossible to measure. The goal as a result becomes meaningless.

A tip to making sure that your goal is specific is to think about the who, the what, the where and the when of your goal. Doing this will help you to visualise what it will be like once you have achieved this goal. In turn, this will give you a very clear finishing point, so there is no uncertainty around when this goal has been achieved.

  • The when: this will act as the deadline for when you hope to have met this goal.
  • The who: this will be the beneficiary of the outcome of the achievement, so in this case it is likely to be either yourself or your business.
  • The what: this is the part that makes up the bulk of your goal. It’s possibly the part that you consider to be the actual goal, so should have been the first part that came to mind.
  • The where: this is the location. This may not apply to you but you can bring in a where if you are thinking of relocating, opening new premises or expanding into different markets.

Using this framework will change a vague, “to increase the turnover of my business”, to a far more specific “By 2019, my business will have a turnover of £5 million pounds, by opening two new medical practices in London”.

Keep things possible. Don’t set yourself unattainable goals.

Although you want the goal to be big, motivational and aspirational you do want it to be possible.

For it to be obtainable, you need to be personally in control of whether this goal is possible. It doesn’t mean that you need to be hands on and undertake every aspect of it yourself, it just means that the outcome is based upon you and your businesses actions and not someone else’s. For example, you don’t want the realisation of your goal to be dependent on changes in the market or the actions of your competitors.

Also, you want your goal to stretch you but not to the point where you will quickly loose motivation to achieve it. So, keep it big, but keep it rooted in reality.

Break down the goal so it becomes less intimidating

The problem with large and impressive goals, is that they can become intimidating.

Knowing that you now need to transform your £1 million business into a £5 million one can leave you scrabbling for ideas and frustrated when plans fail to evolve as expected.

Whatever goal you have chosen, it is highly unlikely that one single change will generate the required results overnight. If this is the case, then you have probably chosen too small a goal.

To avoid overwhelm, you need to begin the process of breaking the goal down into very small and manageable chunks.

Apply the same mindset to this process as you would when you break down a task to explain to a new employee. You may find that blocking out some time and sitting down with a business advisor, such as us at Inspira, will help considerably with this. Too often we like to skip parts of a process that we do automatically or we simply forget how complex an action is, so being questioned and having to explain it to someone else can make us more aware of what we need to do.

Working backwards from the goal, the result is that you create a detailed process or a tick list of tasks to complete. As these are quicker and easier to complete, they are not as intimidating as a very large goal. So, instead of aiming for the £5 million turnover, your first task could be to review the profitability of your current products or services. If you are unable to do this, then the next step may be to review your current accounting software and so on. Each stage becomes a task, a meeting, a review and as you make your way through them you work your way closer to achieving your goal.

By having created smaller, almost mini-goals, to aim for and complete, we can then incorporate these into our daily schedules. This will begin to form our timetable.

Bring in deadlines but keep them realistic

Now that you have created lots of smaller goals, you can begin to give yourself deadlines for achieving these.

Resist the temptation, amidst your initial enthusiasm, to give yourself unrealistic deadlines. And whilst deadlines are set for a reason, accept that some may need to be more flexible than others.

Giving yourself two days to do a potentially large project is unintentionally setting yourself up to fail. Accept that certain tasks will take a longer amount of time to do properly; such as revamping a website or training staff. If you rush these then producing a substandard job will have a knock-on effect of the success of the proceeding mini-goals.

Equally, being in business does mean that unexpected but important issues will arise that require your full attention. Prioritising a mini-goal above these could prove detrimental, however, it is worth setting the time aside to get yourself back on track as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

Having deadlines in place is incredibly important as these will generate your timetable and ensure that you remain productive. If you fail to have, or stick to, your deadlines then they can quickly be discarded and the daily activities that swallow up your time and keep you busy will return.

In an ideal world, you want to be able to do at least one thing a day that will help you to work towards your goal. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but it must be something. This will maintain your sense of achievement and will keep your business moving forward.

If the mini-goals are your roadmap, then the deadlines are your momentum so you want to always keep things moving forward.

Set timelines for completion of actions rather than results

As we all know, things don’t always go as planned. It is therefore, always better to set timelines for the completion of your actions rather than the results you hope to generate.

Focusing your full attention on results can make you blind to the achievement of your actions.

By focusing on actions, you are rewarded for organising that meeting, writing that report, researching those websites and so on. This is far heathier than getting disillusioned because a tweak in pricing didn’t generate x amount of revenue or a blog failed to create x number of leads.

Goals can be very emotional and results are the same. You don’t want your motivation or your confidence to take a hit should the results not generate as expected. Providing you are confident in your process, and you revise and adjust certain stages as you progress, the results should follow.

Incorporate the timetable into your day to day activities

Businesses tend to pull us towards the busy. There is always paperwork that needs to be dealt with, emails that need to be answered and meetings that need to be attended. Businesses by their very nature, want us to attend to their daily needs rather than address their future.

Having a timetable in place will help you to block out time so that you can make small steps towards focusing on and nurturing that future.

It doesn’t have to be large revenue goals. It could be building a business that enables you to step away and have a better work life balance. Either way, apply the same process. Make the goal specific, break it down and finally, set deadlines.

If you are unsure as to how to reach your goal then you may wish to involve your senior management team or an outside and independent voice such as us at Inspira. We can work through the process with you. Ask the right questions that you need to answer to create your timetable for success.

Ultimately though, it is up to you to ensure that your business meets the deadlines that you’ve set. Again, an independent voice like Inspira can help to hold you accountable, maintain your motivation and be your business coach for when you need to talk through a challenging situation.

If this blog has inspired you to create your own goal based timetable and you would like some support in achieving this, please give us a call for an informal chat.

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