In the book The 12-Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington, annualized thinking is condensed into weeks. By reducing the amount of time to accomplish a goal, the focus on what needs to be done is intensified. The book outlines a plan for how to improve execution effectiveness and accomplish more in 12 weeks than most can do in 12 months.
In order to achieve this level of performance, one of the tactics offered by the authors is to carve out time each week for strategic planning. Strategic items are those that are important but not necessarily urgent.
A study they cited found the average professional has about 40 hours of unfinished work in their queue at any given point in time.
“It’s important to realize the simple truth you can’t do it all; otherwise, you will continue to labor under the false belief you will eventually catch up and finally get to the important stuff. You will continue to use all of your time on the urgent day-to-day activity and postpone the strategic that is required to create breakthrough and, ultimately, the life you desire,” Moran and Lennington wrote.
Too often, people opt for comfortable, lower-value activities instead of more difficult but higher-payoff activities.
“To become great, you must choose to allocate your time to your greatest opportunities,” they wrote. “You will have to choose to spend time on the difficult things that create your biggest payoffs.”
This can be difficult to do, as strategic activities don’t typically result in an immediate payback.
In order to stay focused and not lose sight of opportunities that can yield substantial returns in the future, one must learn to use their time effectively.
Moran and Lennington suggested applying three different time blocks to a daily or weekly schedule.
1. Strategic blocks should be scheduled early in the week so if one gets interrupted or cancelled, there is time to reschedule it. They are three-hour blocks of time to work on your business, not in it. It helps to schedule strategic blocks during times when your work activity is typically lowest. One strategic block per week is usually adequate, they said.
2. Buffer blocks are designed to deal with the lower-level activities and are typically between 30 minutes and one hour in length, scheduled one to two times per day. The actual amount of time for buffer blocks will depend upon the amount of email, phone calls, interruptions, etc., an individual must answer.
3. Breakout blocks are designed to prevent burnout and create more free time away from work. They are three hours in length and should be scheduled once a week – after the rest of the plan is working.
In addition to these three categories, the authors noted it is important to schedule blocks of time to execute other important activities (like milking and feeding cows) that need to be done during the workday.
The first step to executing this plan is to create and maintain a compelling vision of the future you want even more than you desire your own short-term comfort.
The next step is to align short-term goals and plans to accomplish during strategic blocks with your long-term vision.
With a strong vision and allocated time block to work on higher-payoff activities, you can achieve more in weeks than previously done in a year or more.
- Progressive Dairyman
- Email Karen Lee