Priorities and planning: the 12-week year

PHEW. I’m back in the saddle and today I thought I’d write a little bit about our roadmap for this Growth Stacking project: what, how, why, when, where!

A few weeks ago, newly Ritalin’d and finally able to work again, I was hunting around on the internet for solid advice on How To Set Daily Priorities, and found… nothing.

Lots of handwaving and proselytizing of the power of daily priorities…

Lots of platitudes about importance…

Lots of Eisenhower matrices…

But nothing concrete about choice, except in terms of urgency or importance.

But… how do you decide what is urgent or important? Or not?

Much like Getting Things Done, the Eisenhower matrix is all about triaging work that drops in your lap… reacting to external stimulus, not creating new things that don’t yet exist.

The Eisenhower matrix is a tool for a moment. But I’m looking at a one- or two-year project.

Here’s the thing:

I know how to plan. And I know how to prioritize when time is tight!

But I’ve come to realize that I’m excellent at planning, prioritizing, and executing in bursts leading up to a launch — even extremely long bursts, like the year it took to remake 30x500! — but not so consistent over the long-term.

Ironic, maybe, since I’m always praising the power of stewardship and investment.

So I took stock:

  1. I’m good at launches and deadlines.
  2. I’m good at putting out fires as they arise.
  3. I’m not good at the daily grind.

And what I’ve come to understand is that the best way to get better at the daily grind is to make the grind more like a burst.

The thing that led me to think this is a book called The 12-Week Year. It’s one of those books, you know, where you don’t actually have to read the book to get the gist? It made quarterly planning sound exciting. Any number of the summaries and reviews out there will give you what you need to know.

Here’s the bottom line: Instead of setting yearly goals, set them quarterly, and focus on things you can do versus outcomes, and set up a system of metrics and checks for along the way.

I took what I read and designed my own worksheet, and laid out a plan in Preview (yes, as a PDF).

And here it is.

It’s already not quite a source of truth — I’ve changed and moved things and I’ve fallen behind (me, specifically; yay stupid bodies). Changes so far are in pink.

Today I’m going to edit it some more. But it’s invigorating and clarifying to have it!

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything,” as Eisenhower himself once quoted.

Amy Hoy @amyhoy