As a business owner, you have thousands of ideas running around your head at any given time. You may want to tweak some product packaging, try a new marketing concept, streamline your supply chain, hire a new assistant--and the list goes on and on. It can be overwhelming, and often leads to decision overload, which can really slow your rate of growth.
Enter the quarterly action plan.
This one-page document transforms the way you think about and approach scaling your company. You take one sheet of paper, and break it down into three main focus areas for the quarter. You then decide on criteria for success for each focus area. ("What specifically needs to happen for you to feel successful on this focus area this quarter?") Finally, you'll list out the action steps that allow you to accomplish this criteria of success for this focus area this quarter.
The action steps are where Trello comes in.
When putting together your plan, you'll probably need to break down each focus area into five to seven action steps and milestones. So over the course of a quarter, you have roughly 15-20 action steps you need to keep track of, which can be done in a variety of ways. A task list in your email program, a to-do list on an app, a notebook in Evernote, or perhaps even a paperbound journal.
While our business coaching clients use a customized web app to do this, you can use an online tool like Trello. Here is how our marketing director, Kim, plans her quarter via the Trello app.
She begins by creating a series of vertical lists surrounding her task list. These include:
Current tasks: These are the tasks she has on her plate for the current week. Her Trello is linked to Evernote and Google Docs, so she is able to keep all her notes and documents in one place with each task item being a separate card.
Completed tasks: As the week progresses, Kim will move completed tasks from her current list into her completed list. This helps her feel her progress and forward momentum and makes it really easy to share her company victories with the team during our weekly team huddle. Note: At the end of each week these tasks are then archived for search purposes.
Upcoming tasks: This is essentially her task list for next week. If a project needs further attention or couldn't be completed during the current week it gets pulled into this list. This is also helpful for scheduling meetings with other staff, as she has a clear picture of what her workload looks like at least a week out.
Quarter projects: This is where the magic happens. Remember that list of 15-20 action steps that you put together for your quarterly action plan? This is where each one of those tasks live. She puts them all in at the beginning of the quarter with relevant details and Evernotes as needed.
Ticklers: Have a project you want to do the next quarter? This is the place to park those tasks and ideas that need a little more time to marinate. When it comes time to create the next quarterly action plan, this is the first place she goes for ideas.
Putting it all together.
With these five task lists Kim is able to plan her week and use her focus time on high value activities. At the end of each week, she will pull items from the quarter projects list directly into her current task list, making them a focus for the upcoming week. Nothing gets left behind and she is able to work on her quarterly action plan in manageable chunks.
Have you tried Trello yet? What is your favorite way to organize your tasks?