7 Keys to Avoiding FTI: Getting Real About Implementation
Yesterday in our weekly team accountability session (via a web meeting using Zoom) about our progress on our 12 Week Year (quarterly) goals, it quickly became apparent that despite what seemed to us to be a realistic plan for achieving our three major goals for this quarter, we – especially I – was not making progress on completing the necessary weekly tasks as per the project plan (documented and managed in Wrike).
The main reason is that I was ‘back on the tools’ in relation to sales and we’ve been receiving a lot of inbound sales leads in recent weeks (achieving for ourselves precisely what we teach and help our accounting firm and small business clients to achieve).
So my calendar had been booked solid for the past few weeks and, as a result, the gaps in my calendar – where I figured I’d be able to invest ‘work ON the business’ time had evaporated.
Why? Because sales is a combination of a reactive and a proactive role. The reactive part is that when an enquiry comes in, you need to respond ASAP. A lead is like a loaf of bread: fresh today, still ok tomorrow, but after that, it starts to go stale. So my calendar slots for working on the tasks for our quarterly goals just kept evaporating due to an influx of reactive sales tasks. (As far as problems go, that’s a high-quality problem, but we needed to get our projects on track…)
It’s funny, often the most obvious of answers are staring us right in the face. It’s not rocket science or high-level business coaching that’s required here to figure out what needs to change, but when your days are full and you’re going from one meeting/call/consultation/presentation to the next, you often don’t have (or rather, take!) the time to sit back and reflect to ask yourself the right questions.
And that’s the hard part. It’s certainly the most important part.
Answers are easy. They really are. The key is to be sure you’re asking yourself the right questions because questions direct your focus. The answers to your questions are readily available. Just be sure you’re asking the right questions.
So as a team, we asked ourselves:
- How can we ensure we complete our weekly tasks for our quarterly project goals?
- What’s the best way for us to ensure we have the time to work on them?
And the answers are just as simple. Seeing as I had been the main offender, the decisions were:
- I will block out each Thursday as a ‘work ON it’ day for the business. This is an appointment that won’t be bumped by incoming sales leads.
- This will be an offline day where I go to a different location.
- Sales leads that come in on a Thursday will be responded to by my assistant and an appointment for me to call them will be made for the next day.
- I will also block out a couple of hours on Tuesday afternoons to work on my project tasks.
- These blocks are in my calendar as recurring appointments.
The trick is now, sticking to it. Honouring the “appointments with myself”.
Setting aside a day each week to work on your business and physically removing yourself from day-to-day operations has been a hallmark of all the most successful clients I’ve consulted to over the years.
And I have done this myself over the years too.
But it’s easy in the busy-ness of life to let good habits slide away; to bump the appointments-with-self for the urgent and reactive.
Summarising the obvious steps here for consistently achieving one’s goals, they are:
- Have clearly defined goals — no more than three goals per quarter
- Document a project plan to achieve the goals
- Have defined weekly tasks within the project plan
- BLOCK OUT TIME in your calendar to do the work
- KEEP THE APPOINTMENTS with yourself each week
- Do the work
- Meet as a team each week to report in on:
- what you achieved,
- what you didn’t,
- what needs to change and
- what you’ll achieve in the coming week as per the project plan
Easy? Less so.
Just like anything worthwhile in life.