So you’ve made your New Year’s resolutions which included building a business plan. This includes setting your personal and business goals. You also did a budget to make sure you can afford to do what you’ve planned. You are therefore all rested and dressed up and ready to go. Bring it on you say. My question is therefore, you know WHAT you want to do but HOW are you going to do it?

Chances are you have a list of projects and tasks you want and need to do. It probably doesn’t include answering phones, sending and receiving emails, reading articles and newsletters, attending conferences, staying on top of compliance items that affect your industry but numerous day to day activities that lead most entrepreneurs at the end of the day to say “Where did the day go?” And that’s the point of a Productivity Plan.

A Productivity Plan is an attempt to put some system into each month, week and day. Whether you are the President of the United States or the unemployed person looking for a job, we all have exactly the same amount of time in a day. While we may not always be able to control who we spend our day with, we can control how we spend it. For example, do you know how much time each day you spend on email? Do you respond to each email as it arrives? If so, you are not being productive. An email is a non urgent means of communication. If it was urgent you would be using the cell phone or other telephone line. The goal of a Productivity Plan is to plan and manage your day, firstly, so you enjoy it and secondly, so you get the important tasks done while the less important tasks wait. Closing down your email so you answer each email in a window of time and then again in the afternoon allows you to be more productive…which is what a Productivity Plan is all about.

You generally work to a month as it coincides with a financial period that most businesses follow where the book-keeper or financial analysts close out the month in preparation for the next month.

What other areas can I address to remain as productive as possible? The starting point is to make a plan each week. You may prefer to set aside a little time to do this late Friday afternoon and therefore plan for all of the next week or you may prefer to do this first thing Monday morning.

Deciding what tasks you need to do in your business will vary greatly from another persons. Not only because you are in different businesses but also because you could be in different industries, and different positions but also at different stages of a life cycle of the business.

If you want some help with what productivity tasks to accept, look at your normal work habits and decide how they can be improved, the tasks that must get done that slows down others, and even consider what you avoid doing or spend too much time procrastinating over. This is where you can improve your productivity.

The best option is to either write your plan in a word processing document or a spreadsheet. Making a written record and spending the time to define what needs to be done is the first step towards success. Another important task is to make sure you allocate a priority – A for urgent, B for needs completing within a reasonable time and finally C for non urgent. The labels I have used are simplistic but they really need to be tweaked for your own situation.

Finally, a Productivity Plan is not about measuring results. A Productivity Plan is about defining AND agreeing what needs to be done with what urgency. Measuring the results of your Productivity Plan is important, but that’s covered by a Performance Plan; which will discuss at another time.

Part 9 of this article series looks at a Technology Plan and how this fits in with the success of a business. Technology is now a key component to most businesses; having it as a tool and asset rather than a drag on the business is critical.

Author's Bio: 

Andrew Rogerson is a 5-time business owner. His expertise includes helping owners sell and/or buyers purchase a business, new entrepreneurs buy a franchise, certified machinery and equipment appraisals and business valuations. His credentials include the CBI designation from the IBBA and the CBB from the CABB. Andrew is also a published author on four books on buying or selling a business available at Amazon.com and his website www.Andrew-Rogerson.com