I've begun a new discipline and I didn't wait until January 1 to implement it. Remember: you can begin something new at any time.
Earlier this week, I set aside two dedicated hours to work on strategy. Meaning, my phone was off, I ignored text messages, I closed my email window. I had work to do. The work of strategy.
I now dedicate two hours each week to work on strategy. I'll define this as long-range planning. Thinking and setting goals and then working up a plan as to how those goals will be accomplished.
Why two hours?
Two hours a week will add up to eight hours a month. That's one full workday. Isn't strategy important enough to spend one day a month on? Isn't the future of my company worth a day of my month?
And what about you? Isn't the long-range impact of your work worth such time? Shouldn't you spend the equivalent of a day a month focused on the future?
Each week, the time spent will vary. It'll change based on the day of the week and the time of day. Some days I'll do this at the office and others may be at a coffee shop. Sometimes I'll strategize alone and other times I'll bring together my co-founders or our board. But here's how I'll make sure this time is worth it:
- I'll protect this time. I'll schedule it in advance and nothing else will take precedence or interrupt it.
- I'll work on longterm plans, not short-term problems. This is not a time to do paperwork or fix something. It's a time to invest in the future.
- I'll have a single focus. Each week, I'll look to home in on a key area or make sure I end my two hours having accomplished something specific.
- I'll reflect on this time. I'll share the outcome with others and review what was decided later in the week to make sure the decision stacks up.
The work of strategy doesn't have to be boring or routine. In fact, it can be invigorating and meaningful. But if you're not deliberately carving out time, it won't get done. And this is work that must get done.
How much time are you giving to the planning of your life and work?