90 Day Plans: A Dramatic Productivity Trick. (Do 4 times more. Sharpen focus. Stop overwhelm.)

We’re focusing this year, that’s what we’re doing…. we’re going to work on project A… and focus on that. Then work on Project B and focus on that. Not Project A and B and C & D all at the same time.
— Merrymaker Sisters, Problogger Conference 2015
A productivity trick to help you achieve 4 times more,   sharpen your focus and reduce your feelings of overwhelm. The 90 DAy Plan.    Photo Credit: mc yogi

A productivity trick to help you achieve 4 times more,   sharpen your focus and reduce your feelings of overwhelm. The 90 DAy Plan.    Photo Credit: mc yogi

 

I want to share a productivity trick that's part of my '100 at Most' Productivity Series. The series I'm writing to help you manipulate time.  To give you more space to do what really matters in your life. It's a super simple productivity strategy.  One that has really worked for me.  The 90 Day Plan.   It's  extinguished my feelings of overwhelm and sharpened my focus.  

If you're anything like me, when you feel overwhelmed, you start to panic and feel under pressure.  Sometimes it's hard to breathe with all the things that need our attention.  But the 90 Day Plan can help.  It can make everything so much clearer. 

Escaping is often our solution

Typically I've dealt with overwhelm in the laziest possible way - I've escaped. Generally my escapism has taken the form of mindless online browsing and Facebooking.  

Other times I've got caught up sweating the small stuff - the minutiae of kids issues or faffing with an unimportant thing to do with the house. And when I've really been under pressure, I've returned to my favourite form of escape - a few too many glasses of red wine & dark chocolate.

Get crazy-focused with a  90 Day Plan

The whole 90-day plan thing hit my radar when I was listening to an Amy Porterfield podcast. She  interviewed her personal business coach - Todd Herman.  Todd is one hellishly focused dude -  he coaches really big time folk like Amy, and Olympians, and billionaires.  He convinced me in a few minutes to have a go at 90-day planning.  

One year plans are too hard

So yes,  I've got a poor track record when it comes to actually achieving long-term goals.  Sure, I've written goals down.  I've written them with every intention of completing them.   But usually they were wildly ambitious.    

All too often, other unexpected things cropped up.   You might relate.  I reckon I've set the same 'New 'Year' goals about 10 times.  Lose 10 kilos, get a job I love, volunteer at an amazing not-for-profit,  plan a 6 month family holiday and learn to play guitar.

Uh huh.  Way too big.  Totally unachievable goals.  Frankly I was never going to do them all in one year was I? So honestly, the 90-day plan has lifted a massive weight off my shoulders.  I'm thinking if it works for me it could help you as well.  It could reduce some of your pressure.

90 Day Plans are achievable

So why is a 90-day plan any better?  Well, before I get to that I want you to try a simple forward & back thinking exercise.  

First, think about where your life will be in 12 months

Think about your family, your work, your health and others around you.  Don't worry.  There's no right or wrong answer.   It's all a bit unclear isn't it?  You've got a few if's and 'I'm not sure's' in the mix.

Now go the other way.  Think about last year.  

What unplanned things popped up? What things were thrown your way that you had no control of?  Good and bad.  Things that changed your course.

When I look back at last year a lot  happened that was unexpected.

My husband had dental issues - big ones.  Loads of treatment & recovery.  Our savings were blasted  & he had complications.  I had my 3rd baby damage operation - longer than anticipated recovery.  A close friend became unwell.  A friend of my son's was killed.  I 'found' Pilates.  We began to simplify our life. One of my kids was harassed and 'stalked' on Instagram.  We discovered our middle daughter had vitamin D deficiency.  She was accepted to the school of her dreams.

And a year ago I barely knew what blogging was.  You could have held a gun at my head and I would never have guessed I would attend a Problogger conference - alone.

I'm betting your situation is pretty similar.  

What does this mean?  It means this.  We shouldn't beat ourselves up.  It's hard to stay focused on yearly goals.  To ease the pressure we should focus on smaller chunks of time.  90 Days is a perfectly sized chunk.

90 Day Plan. Big Benefits

1. More predictable

Looking ahead 90 days is a way easier that 365.  A whole lot more manageable.  Sure, things will pop up.   But not so many things.  

2. You won't feel so overwhelmed

Chunking the year into four 90 day sections can help you feel less overwhelmed.  You can breathe, knowing you're not allowed to deal with all your goals.   Your job is simply to focus on one goal in each of your life categories.

3. Finish line in sight.  You go faster.

If the finish line is closer you're more likely to stay on track.   And like running in a race - when we see the finish line we go harder.That deadline pushes us.  

4. Sharpen your focus

With a manageable 90 days it's about 100 times easier to stay focused.  You're eye stays on the target.  You have complete clarity around what you want to do.   

5.  Get more done.

Sounds weird I know, but it's true.  When you're not multi-tasking with a million goals, you'll actually complete things.  And you'll complete them well.

Your productivity will take off.

Your 90 Day Plan.  

So, over to you.  It's time to start brainstorming.  Spend some time thinking about what you want to achieve in the next 90 days.   Not only in your work life but in each section of your life.  I'm talking about 1 big thing in each category.  The most important thing.

Here's an example. To help you get started.

A little while ago I left a blogging conference with a huge ideas and action list.  I wanted to do everything.  Write 4 series of content for my readers, video blogging, podcasting, Periscoping, creating income streams,  writing an ebook plus developing an Instagram account that reflects my brand.

If you're bored with my list. That's totally ok. Of course you are. My list is ridiculous.  It's way too long.   I can't possibly do it all.  So instead of doing all the things on my list,  I'm choosing one.   One thing that will move me forward the most.  The one thing that will make everything else easier once I've completed it.

Write down the 'what' and the 'how'

Now the thing is you can't just write down the 'what'.  You also want to jot down 'how'. Here's a simple breakdown of my next 90 days.  Don't worry yourself about the detail.  It's just to give you something to visualise.  Often hearing someone else's example helps it all fall into place. 

Category 1: Work

What  Write content in each of my 5 topic areas.

How  Complete five 2 Hour Work Blocks per week.  Write 3 pieces of content a week.  2 blog posts plus an interview.

Category 2: Education + Personal Development

What  Find an accountability partner

How  Invite a friend to join me.  Set up a process.  Schedule a time each week.

Category 3: Health

What  Walk 10,000 steps a day - minimum.

How  Research wearable devices. Purchase a device. Schedule a 1 hour walking block per day. Commence 1 hour daily podcast walks.

Category 4: Family

What  Plan a 1-week camping/cabin trip.   Bush & beach location with hiking options.

How  Agree on a suitable week with my husband and organise time off work.  Research at night.  Set up a Pinterest folder of options. Discuss with my husband. Book the holiday.

Category 5: Something 4 Others

What   Research Oxfam 50km/100km walk for next year.  [NB: During the 90 days I'll continue with the daily Something 4 Others system]

How  Talk to a friend who completed the walk.  Get on the mailing list.  Block out the time in my calendar.  

Forget about all your other goals.

Ok, so hopefully that gives you a clear idea of how simple it is.  90 Days.  One thing in each of your life categories.  Feel free to play around with the names of each category.  Yours may be different than mine.  You may have more, you may have less. 

It's time to ignore most of your goals.   Store them away.  You only need to concentrate on the most important.  And don't forget to pop a reminder in your calendar to mark the end of your 90 days.  You don't want to miss a chance to celebrate your successes

 

{Tip: If you really want to power up.   Use the 90 Day Plan in combination with the Daily 2 Hour Work Block.  You may find you achieve even more extraordinary things}