ryan eliason.jpgby Ryan Eliason

In a moment I am going to invite you to map out the next 12 months of your life and business. This is one of the most important and powerful things you can do to increase profit and enjoy a life that you love – one that is balanced and that honors both business and personal needs. We will be planning time for “free days”, “work days”, and “working on your business – or strategy days”.

Michael Gerber introduced a very important time management concept in his popular book, “The E-Myth Revisited – Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It”. Mr. Gerber explained the importance of “working on your business” versus “working in your business”.

One of my strengths as a coach is supporting people who get so caught up in the day-to-day that they fail to be strategic and effective enough in developing their business or life to its true potential. There is a key distinction between working “in” your business and working “on” your business. Working “in” your business or “in” your life is what most people do most of the time: returning phone calls and e-mails, making sales calls, taking out the trash, feeding the cat, etc.

Working “on” your business or “on” your life are those things like working with a coach, creating a 5-year strategic plan, systematically evaluating your current strategies, setting goals for the day or the week, participating in a workshop, reading a book that increases your knowledge in a useful area, etc. Planning your 12-month calendar is a “working on” your business and life activity.

These types of activities are usually not urgent, but are very important. In fact, these activities are usually the most important factors of success. They are too often neglected because the urgent (and often not important) activities dominate our schedules. Spending more time working “on” your business and “on” your life will increase your overall effectiveness dramatically.

Plan Your 12 Month Calendar

1. Schedule a block of time to plan the next 12 months. This project will take at least a couple of hours, not counting the errand to pick up supplies.

2. Go down to Office Max, Staples, or your local office supply store and pick up a 12 month “at a glance” calendar. Mine is 16″ x 12″, which seems to be a good size. You may need to purchase two – one for the rest of 2009 and one for 2010. If you get the dry erase type of calendar, then also pick up at least 3 colors of dry erase markers. If you get a regular paper calendar, then pick up some little sticky circles (dots) of at least 3 colors.

3. Decide how long you want your weekends to be, and what days of the week you will take as your “Free Days”. Personally, I take 3-day weekends (Friday through Sunday). You might prefer to take 2-day weekends, or 3-day weekends (Saturday through Monday). It’s up to you. What do you want?

4. Decide how many vacations you would like to take and for how long. Personally, I am taking 14 weeks of vacation during the next 12 months. What would you like to take?

5. Decide how many “Strategy Days” per month you would like to be working on your business vs. in your business. I recommend at least 4 days per month, or 1 day per week. Your goal

6. Choose a color for each of the following categories:
a) “Free Day” = vacation day, weekend, personal day, family day, goof-off day, get personal stuff done day, etc. Color:
b) “Business Day” = working in your business day, seeing clients, the day-to-day of running your business. Color:
c) “Strategy Day” = working on your business day, these are days for doing all the important but not urgent things like planning, strategizing, marketing, personal and professional development, “sharpening the saw”, etc. Color:
d) You might have an additional category that is unique to your business and life. Color:

7. First, go through and put in the “Free Days” by marking those days with the color you have chosen for this purpose. Most people do this in the opposite order: first they put in their work days, then they try to fit in everything else with what’s left over. You are going to reverse the process. First, put in your “Free Days”, then put in your “Strategy Days”, then put in your “Business Days”. Again, do it in this order – 1) Free Days; 2) Strategy Days; and 3) Business Days.

8. Once you have mapped out your year and you feel satisfied with your plan, I invite you to make the following three commitments:
a) Commit to fulfilling your “Free Days” with satisfying personal activities.
b) Commit to working on your business during “Strategic Days” to increase your profitability.
c) Commit to making your business successful within the time frame that you have allotted for working

The 12-month calendar planning process has helped many of my clients improve their business strategy, increase profit, and simultaneously increase the amount of time in their lives for family, friends, travel and leisure.

From Sarah: Ryan Eliason is the President of Professional Coaching Inc. You can find more of his helpful tips, plans and strategies at RyanEliason.com.

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