Yet another quarter is upon us and if you’re looking around wondering what the heck you did with the last 90 days, this post is for you.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, putting out fires, and trying to just hold everything together that it seems like a quarter can pass in the blink of an eye with no real progress to show for the time we’ve put in.
You know you’re showing up to work every day, but has any real progress towards your goals actually been made? Have you lost sight of the forest because you’re lost in the trees?
Trust me, I get it. It’s easier than ever to do, especially if you’re still working remotely and your couch has become your office.
Let’s not dwell on the past, though. There’s still plenty of time to get back on track and I’m going to share with you how to plan out your next 90 days in just 90 minutes so you aren’t looking around 3 months from now wondering where your time went and why you have so little to show for it.
Go ahead and close out your inbox, put that phone on silent, and allow yourself to really focus on the next 90 days.
Step One: Brain Dump
What do you really want to accomplish in the next 90 days? Get all of those big goals out of your head and down on paper. Don’t limit yourself. Write everything down that comes to mind, including any personal goals, we’ll sort through them in the next step.
Step Two: Select the Top 3
Think about WHY you wrote these goals down. Are they really something you want to achieve? Will they actually move you forward or is it just something you “think” you should do.
Don’t do something just for the sake of doing it. Make sure it’s going to move your business (or yourself) forward in the right direction.
I recommend using the SMART goals method. If you’re not familiar with this method, it stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Of the goals you just wrote down, which of them can become SMART goals?
For example, one of my goals for this quarter is to increase our Google Marketplace reviews. To ensure this is a SMART goal, I’ll use the following framework:
Specific – Acquire 30 new marketplace reviews.
Measurable – We can measure our progress by the number of new reviews shown on our listing
Attainable – We’re averaging 3 new reviews per month currently without asking for them; I believe the 10 per month goal is obtainable with intention.
Relevant – Based on our research, we know that people look at these reviews when evaluating whether or not they will use our app. We also know that more reviews will boost our placement in the marketplace.
Timely – We’ve got 90 days to achieve it.
I recommend choosing your top 3 goals to focus on for the next 90 days. Otherwise it can become overwhelming. You can always save the other goals for the next quarter.
If you’re setting personal goals and not just business goals, you can add a little wiggle room to that number since you’ll have time to work on those outside of business hours. No more than three in each area, though.
Step Three: Break it Down
Now that you know what your goals are, let’s break them down into smaller tasks that can be achieved over time.
What are the small tasks you can do to ensure that you meet the goal by the end of this next quarter?
Sticking with my own example of acquiring more reviews for our Marketplace listing, I’ve created the following task/subtask list that I think will help me reach my goal:
- Add another email to our welcome series asking for a review 30 days from installation
- Draft the email
- Add it to the email series workflow in Mailerlite (our email platform)
- Ask current users for reviews
- Identify most active users
- Email them to check-in (I want to make sure things are working well so they don’t end up leaving me a bad review)
- Ask for the review
Step Four: Evaluate
Now that you’ve created your task list, ask yourself a few questions:
- How much time do I need to complete each task?
- If you can’t estimate how much time it will take, how much time are you willing to dedicate?
- Is the time it is going to take me to complete these tasks worth the benefit of reaching this goal?
- Is there anything on this list I can delegate to other members of my team?
- Is there anything on this list that I can subcontract out?
Step Five: Create Implementation Intentions
This is where we often fall off. You spend all of that time setting your goals and making a plan, but then we forget to actually create the time we need to accomplish these goals.
One of my favorite books, Atomic Habits, teaches us that to create a new habit or to achieve a big goal we must create implementation intentions. This is essentially “I will [behavior] at [time] in [location].”
Going back to my own example, my implementation intention would look something like this: I will work on acquiring new reviews on Tuesdays at 10am in my office.
In my example, the location doesn’t matter as much as the day/time, but if your goal is to lose 10lbs and your task is to workout 3 times per week then you’d want to create an intention that was “I will work out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 6pm at the Gym”
Step Six: Add to your Calendar
Once you understand when and where you’ll be committing to completing these tasks it’s time to add your intentions to your calendar because I know if you’re anything like me (and most of the world these days), if it isn’t on your calendar, it probably doesn’t happen.
Based on the implementation intentions you set in the last step, create time blocks on your calendar to accommodate them.
For me, I’ll be adding 30 minutes every Tuesday for 3 weeks to work on my goal of getting new marketplace reviews.
Bonus for pav*r users: If you’re using the pav*r Google Calendar add-on you can add a little extra magic to these calendar events by applying your custom categories and labels to them so you can get an at-a-glance report when you do your next export. I’ll be applying my Business Development Category and Quarterly Goal Label to my customer review events.
Step Seven: Audit & Revise
You’ve done the upfront work, now it’s time to start making progress.
Check-in on your goals regularly (daily is best, but aim for at least weekly) and update as needed.
- Did you actually work on your goals during the time you allotted on the calendar?
- If yes, did it take you more/less time than you thought it would?
- If not, why not? I know it can be easy to push your goals to the side when it feels like there’s something more “important” screaming for your time, but what’s more important than your goals? Remember: you set them for a reason.
If you didn’t get to it on the day/time you said you would, find a different day/time and update the calendar event accordingly, but try not to make this a habit.
Note for pav*r users: This is an especially important step for you to make sure you get the most accurate reporting. Remember to update the time you spent on the calendar event if it was more/less and you want that to be reflected in your next report.
If you find yourself mid-way into the quarter and realize a goal you set is no longer relevant, remove it or update the calendar events to the next quarter if you just want to delay it. But remember why you set the goal in the first place and don’t delay something for too long or pretty soon it’ll be the end of another year.
If, however, you identify a new goal that can’t wait until the next quarter, remember to follow these steps and make sure you make the time for it.
I know that life isn’t perfect, business certainly isn’t perfect, and sometimes things just happen or get in the way. By setting intentional, obtainable goals, however, you’re creating a snowball effect in your life and business and you’ll see those results payoff in the same way. Ninety minutes every 90 days is a small way to create a big win, so remember to make the time to make the time.