The other day I was sitting on my back porch looking at the summer haze, and it occurred to me: I don’t usually see this in Michigan.
You see it in the south all the time. When I was young and my family lived in Brazil, you saw it almost every day. It’s that combination of heat and humidity that’s so thick, you feel like you can almost see it.
Because you can.
The more I looked at the haze, the more I realized it reminds me of something. It reminds me of the mindset I think a lot of people in the business world have fallen into recently. I’m sure a lot of this haze feeling is from COVID and all the lockdowns. Life hasn’t felt normal for months, and neither has business. It’s hard to know your next step when you’re not even sure if your customers are going to be operating or shutting down, or if your employees can or will want to come back to work.
It is easy to understand why circumstances like this could put you into a haze. But I’m not sure such circumstances are always necessary for the haze to set in. Some people simply lose their sense of what they are supposed to be focused on. And most importantly, they lose focus on why they should be focusing in the first place.
Once that happens, you’re in trouble. But there’s a way to get it back, and it’s not complicated.
Verne Harnish, the founder of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, is a big advocate of one-page plans. They can be used in a lot of ways. You could have a single one-page plan for your entire company, or you can draw up one-page plans for specific initiatives of the company.
But a great way to use the one-page plan is to have one for every single day. You might wonder if this isn’t just a fancy version of the to-do list, or of the Franklin Planner. But a one-page plan for the day can have a lot of elements to it – what needs to be done, the resources that will be required, the time it will take. You can customize it to what works for you.
But the most important thing the one-page plan for your day should include is the why, and that is key. It’s also hard.
Why are you adding that extra product line? Why are you going to put this employee under disciplinary action? Why are you going with a new vendor? Or swapping out a certain piece of equipment?
If you don’t identify why you’re doing these things, you may perform tasks without being cognizant of the task’s larger role in the company’s direction. That can lead to mistakes because you can get so zoomed in on the task only, you might pursue the task in a way that doesn’t advance the bigger goals.
Identifying the why to every task helps to solve that problem. It keeps you out of the haze. It keeps you focused not only on the things you need to do, but the role each of them plays in getting you where you are trying to go.
By clearing up that question, you help to keep yourself laser focused. You’re in a better position to get it done – and done right. And I think that is especially important now as so many people are easing their way back into what used to be normal to them.
It’s not just work. Some people are getting back to the gym, or back to church, or back to places they used to gather regularly. Was it weird the first time you went out to eat when the restaurants opened back up? Nothing feels quite like it felt before, and it will take some time and focus for us to remember how we used to approach these things.
There is no reason business should be any different. First, you need to re-adjust to how you do things every day – and of course, what those things are. But you can’t afford not to think about why you do them, and no one could blame you for needing a little time to reconnect with that.
I have done hundreds of these one-page plans. It doesn’t have to take you hours. Once you’ve got it down to a science, it shouldn’t take you long to start each day getting one ready. They keep you focused. They keep you productive and they keep you effective.
They keep you out of the haze. It’s one thing when the summer heat and humidity make you feel like you can’t see where you’re going. It’s another thing when you’re having that problem running your business.
The one-page plan is a simple step to avoid it.
Written by: Wade Wyant
Red Wagon Advisors