Tuesday's blog rolls back the hours, remember? We are opening a can of business P's as we go. So far, we have had a taste of P for Product, Placement, Price and Perseverance. So today, let's take a look at P for Plan.
Me? I need a plan every day. If I don't know where I am headed every single day, I can end up quite rudderless by lunchtime! I just bounce around wondering where to start, and don't achieve much of anything.
So I got in the habit many, many years ago, of making a "list of things to do tomorrow" every evening, before I go to bed. That way, as soon as I open my eyes, I know what to do when I get up. Now to many, this may seem pretty obvious, but oddly enough, not many people I know actually do it ! I know people who make lists when they wake up, but for my own peace of mind, I find the night before much better. And whilst writing tomorrow's to do list, I have the great satisfaction of ticking the boxes for what I have accomplished today. Anything which didn't get done just gets carried over to the following day's plan.
Now don't think for a minute that I just go ploughing through my list, batting people out of the way to achieve my daily goals! Not at all! And some days I don't even look at it! But should I need a rudder, the list is there.
This leaves time in the morning for a gratitude list. That is also a big part of my routine that is my daily plan for living. I find it helps me a great deal to stay upbeat when I focus on things to be grateful for.
So to the plan. Well, since this making lists is obviously an integral part of the way I function, it follows that I tackle most things this way. A list gives me an overview of the situation, whatever it may be. As soon as I have written it, I have got more control. It's much like a road map; tells me which direction to take. And when that step-at-a-time approach becomes a way of life, then life becomes much easier. Less floundering, less projecting, and less worrying about things which will probably never happen. Just stick to the plan!
There are things on my list which I just keep carrying over, day after day after day. Eventually, I will get sick of looking at it and do something about it! For example, I remember writing "write a will" so many times, that eventually I thought I really must sort this out before I die!!! And I did!
The other one which I keep transferring to tomorrow's list is "Go to the gym". Haven't been since the summer, but at least I give myself a little kick up the arse every evening!
When I first started appearing on Create & Craft, I used to say "I've got a plan" a lot. People used to laugh at me and it became a standing joke. I never even realised I said it a lot. I am just wired that way. It works for me.
There are loads of ways and places to write lists. On the back of your hand, on the back of a fag packet, on your bathroom mirror. And at some time in my life, I have used those for sure! For many years, I used a big black book, like a ledger, which I just worked my way through, one day at a time. It was like my brain on paper. Misplacing the big black book was always very disconcerting! Came to rely on it! Nowadays, with the coming of the technical age, I use an Ipad and a very cool app called Wunderlist. Check it out; it is perfect for me.
I remember, years ago, when the kids were nippers, if they were up to no good, I would point to the shopping list (which was always in progress and hanging from a fridge magnet) and say, "you know the rules!". And they would look at it, and nod. This worked liked a dream until they learned to read.
On a philosophical note, I believe that we move towards what we picture in our minds. If I write something down, I am already making a contract with myself to tackle it at some stage. It is already becoming tangible. So I have to think about my intentions carefully, no matter how trivial they may seem.
In the words of Lao Tzu,
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
Ain't that the truth!
As Clarity has grown and expanded, the need for forward planning has become even greater. But what came first? The chicken or the egg? Did Clarity grow because of all the endless planning and prep? So often, people ask me how I manage to do so much. The honest answer? Lists and planning. And don't forget, I have got a fantastic Clarity-team to execute those plans today! I am surrounded by clever, hardworking, like-minded people nowadays. Look! Here we are in France, eating cheese and baguette, and the business is flourishing fine without us. I like that. But you should see the list of new ideas Dave and I have started over here!
Do you remember the lovely presenter Lottie? I used to love working with Lottie on Sundays, and she with me. We had something essential in common: we were always extremely well prepared before a TV show. And just before the cameras went live, we would always say together,
"Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!"
I do miss working with Lottie, but knowing her, I would guess that whatever she is doing, she is doing it very, very well.
So, next Tuesday, let's talk about preparation!