207 [Part 1] The 4 Levels of Planning
Want to know the secret to harmonizing all aspects of your life? I'm here to share with you the 4 levels of planning to do just that! This week, I'm kicking off a four-part series that is set to revolutionize the way you plan. With my guidance, you'll gain insights into integrating personal, work, and business plans for a more balanced life.
In today's episode, we're kicking things off with a deep dive into the highest and most abstract level of planning: Annual Planning. I want you to rethink what annual planning means. It's not just about adhering to the January-to-December calendar; it's about creating a personalized blueprint for your future, regardless of the timeline that suits you best, whether that's a fiscal year or a unique 18-month strategic plan.
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Hey, hey, friends, welcome back to Work + Life Harmony.
So I'm doing something I've never done here before on the podcast, and I am actually. We've created a four-part series that you are going to be hearing, starting this week and then the next three weeks after it, because it was just too much information to cram into one podcast. Now, you may have heard me talk about the four levels of planning, but we decided to take a deep dive into each of the four levels to help you understand what type of information goes into each one. All right, so here this week I'm going to be kicking things off with annual planning. That's the first level of planning, and then over the next three weeks we're going to cover quarterly, monthly and weekly. Now I've also created a free checklist that you can download, that you can have on hand as you go through this series with me. We've got a link to it in the show notes below. Just go to megansumrell.com/4levels or just go ahead, click the link down below. Let's go ahead and kick things off.
Welcome to the Work + Life Harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner, teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife and, just like you, I'm juggling hashtag all the things while running multiple businesses and a family. Guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning an organization to skyrocket your productivity, so you can have work life harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you, and if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my work life harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram, @MeganSumrell, with the word harmony and my team will send it right over. Hey there, welcome back to work life harmony.
So this particular episode here is kicking off the first of a four part series called the four levels of planning. Now I teach four very specific levels, layers etc. Of planning, and so I'm going to be dedicating this episode and the next three where I'm going to be breaking down each one to help you understand the type of information that goes into each level of planning. All right, so the four levels include annual planning, quarterly planning, monthly planning and weekly planning. We're actually going to be starting here today with the annual planning the highest, most vague level of planning and then we're going to be working our way down in the next three episodes where we will end on weekly planning.
Now the purpose of this series. Again, this is not going to be deep diving into how to do that this podcast would go on forever and this is what I teach inside of my programs. But the purpose of these four episodes here are to help you understand what type of information goes into each level of planning. So you can start to really think about that. And as an added bonus, I've actually created a free checklist that you can go and download. We've got the link to it here in the show notes. You can just go to megansumrell.com, forward slash four levels. I've got this checklist here for you that breaks down the four levels and lists the type of information, the what that goes into each one of those. So make sure you go download that. It's going to be incredibly helpful, all right, so let's go ahead and kick things off here with part one of this four part series talking about annual planning. Now I teach the how inside of my signature Plano Pelusa event.
But today I want to share with you the what, the type of information that we're going to be focused on when we do our annual planning. All right, so first I've used this analogy before. I like to think of annual planning really as creating a blueprint for the next year. I call it annual planning, but, friends realize, you don't have to just do this from like a January to December. You could decide at any point in your life that you want to create a longer term, somewhere from a nine to 12 to 18 month strategic plan, and this would cover that. There's no reason why it has to be January to December. In fact I know a lot of people that tend to do there is more, from a September through August, and then you know, in a work environment, depending upon when your fiscal year hits, you may want to do your annual planning in a different 12 month window as well. All right, so I'm going to break down four different categories of information, or actually three different categories of information that belong in your annual plan. So we're going to talk first about the personal type stuff that should go in there. Then we'll touch on work kind of more corporate setting information that may go into an annual plan, and then, finally, anyone that is a small business owner themselves the type of things that you want to consider that you should be layering into your annual planning as well.
Now notice what makes this planning process and what I teach around planning so unique is that we are integrating all parts of our life. I see time and time again where people go to workshops to create strategic plans, but they're only talking about one part of their life. So maybe it is a business focused event and all you're doing is strategically planning for the business. Or you might go to a more personal level workshop and they have you creating all these plans, goals and desires for your personal life. But then what we need to do in order to make this actually valuable and realistic is, when we do our planning, we've got to integrate all of those together to make sure that what we're outlining for ourselves for the year makes sense. All right, so as I break down these three different categories, I'll touch on that a little bit more so you can understand what I'm talking about.
So, with our first level of planning annual planning. First, let's talk about the personal stuff that gets layered into this annual plan. Now I have an entire workbook that I use to guide me through an annual planning process, and once we go through that, there's two key assets that come out of the backend, and this is what everyone that joins me in Planopalooza creates. One is what I call your annual one pager All right, and I'm going to hold it up here. My annual one pager includes some key information to help me stay focused on what's really important to me for the year, and then my one pager that is a year in review All right, and this is where we have a little box for each month of the upcoming year where we are highlighting the important things that we need to remember. So, with some of the stuff I'm going to be sharing here, these are things that we learn how to capture correctly on these two pieces of paper. Again, you can do it digitally. I like to mine on paper that become your kind of go to reference all year long. Okay, so on the personal level, here is the type of information that should be captured in your annual plan Any known trips, trips that are going to be for a day or longer.
Those should be captured in your calendar, whether it's digital or paper, as soon as possible and if they're tentative, go ahead and capture those as a reminder for yourself so that if you're looking way ahead six months from now, trying to make decisions about something, you'll have that tentative note for yourself saying, hey, I might be going on a trip here to help remind you not to get overbooked, double-booked or overscheduled. So known trips. Second to that which is similar is vacations. All right, so if you know you have a vacation and I'm meaning staycations as well, because sometimes maybe you're taking, you know, four days off around Thanksgiving or something like that and you're taking time off from really treating it as vacation you want to capture that in your annual plan.
The third thing that falls under personal is holidays. Any holidays that are important to you that are ultimately going to take a demand on your time should be captured in your annual plan. Now, there may be holidays that don't have an impact on your time or life, like, for instance, in our family. St Patrick's Day is just not a day that we do anything of relevance for, so that's not something that I'm writing down in my annual plan as something that's important, all right. So the holidays that are important to you, that ultimately you want to protect time around, either for preparation or for celebration or for acknowledgement purposes.
Now, this next one is one that most people don't think about. But on the personal side, I want you to think about what traditions you have that, again, are a capturing part of your time that you want to be planned and prepared for. So maybe you have a summer tradition, a barbecue event, or something that you want to make sure you're thinking about. I have a dear friend that does this huge two-day baking event with friends and family every time every year around the holidays. So for things like that, you're wanting to go ahead and earmark those as part of your annual planning so that you're protecting that time and, again, not getting overbooked.
Now, another thing that falls under the personal category here are maybe any personal goals that you have, those want tos, the things that you are when you're thinking about the next 12 months, the things that you want to spend time on in your life in a personal level. So not work or business related goals, all right, and we want to make sure that we're capturing high level dates associated with any of those. A friend of mine recently was registering to do her first half marathon and so as part of her annual planning process, we were layering in some milestone dates on where she should be with her training in order to be prepared for that event later in the year. All right, now again notice, I keep saying tentative. When we're doing this high level annual planning, we know things are going to change, but it doesn't mean that we don't kind of put down our initial best guess at dates to help keep us on track. And then, finally, the last thing you can layer in personally here, if you have children in school, is it's critical that you layer in the school calendar Right, when are their days off, half days, holidays, first day of school, last day of school, etc. So that you're making sure that you are preserving and protecting any time that you need to support the school calendar as well. Now I have some other podcasts out there that talk about specifically around end of school and back to school, how to make sure that you're really prepared for that. But during my annual planning when I am layering in when that first day of school is, I'm already blocking off the weekend before making sure that we're not planning anything big there and that first weekend after school starts. So this is the kind of thing that we can be doing at an annual level personally to help set us up for success.
Now let's shift into the second category. For those of you listening that work outside the home, where you work for somebody, you work for a company, maybe you're in a corporate office, whatever it may be. When you're thinking about what should go into your annual plan for work, this is where I'm always looking for. What are those big milestones? So, thinking back to my former corporate days, depending upon what role I was serving, oftentimes there were large reports that were due, annual kind of large company planning sessions, things like that Anything that you know about that is going to again pull from your time that is an important part of your job should be layered into your annual plan along with any events. Maybe there are conferences that you go to on an annual level. Maybe there are events that you are expected to participate in, whether you're presenting, consuming information, etc. Go out there and proactively get those built into your annual plan as well. Now let's shift over to if you are someone that is a business owner. So these are the types of things that I'm including in my annual plan as a business owner.
All right, maybe for you and this again, all of these aren't going to be relevant to everybody, but maybe you have a business where there is a busy season and a slow season. So I know a lot of women we have quite a few in my program that run creative craft type businesses where they are out really hitting craft sales, and all of that, you know, heavy into Q4, which means that in Q3, they might be making a lot of stuff. So we need to be thinking about that with our annual planning so that we are protecting the time that we need on our calendar that supports either busy seasons or slow seasons. All right, now, also, as a small business owner, maybe there are conferences that you know you want to go to that support your business. So you want to be looking ahead to see what dates are those and can I layer those in. Or maybe there are conferences that you're wanting to show up and be more of a speaker, right, and so you want to make sure that you are identifying those and getting those layered into your annual plan as well, and then, along with any large goals that you have for your business.
Just as we talked about personal goals. I gave that half marathon example. Well, maybe you have some large goals for your business. Maybe they are revenue specific, sales specific, customer specific. Well, what we want to do is make sure that we're layering in some milestone dates of where we want to be on those goals so that we can be monitoring that throughout the year as well.
Now, again, I mentioned I'm inside of this four part training series here. I'm not going to be able to go through the how. It would take way too long. That's what I cover inside of Planopalooza and the top program. But I want to make sure that you understand what I've covered here today on the types of information, the what that goes into your annual plan. Remember we are layering all of them together personal work, business Because when we start to put all of that what together across all three, that's when we start to protect ourselves from overbooking, double booking, over scheduling.
There have been times where I've had something that I wanted to do for work, but then when I'm looking at the personal side, I'm seeing oh, this is not going to be a good time to do that, because maybe this is a slow season. An example for me are summer months. Particularly June and July are months where I know I need to preserve my calendar and really lean in heavy personal when we're out of school and not be layering in any large goals from a work or business perspective during those two months, right? So this is why we've got to learn how to integrate all parts of our life when we're doing that high-level strategic planning. Now, quick reminder again we've got this cheat sheet that you can download. I've got a link to it down here in the show notes and you're going to probably want to download that and have this as a place where you can take notes and reference here from today and for the next three episodes that are coming out as well. And if, depending upon when you're listening to this, if you want to learn the how of the annual planning, make sure you come. Check out information about Planopalooza, because this is the one time and the one place where I teach the how on that.
All right, I'm excited for you guys to tune in for the next three weeks. Make sure you are here. The next episode we're going to be tackling quarterly planning. Getting on top of all things time management, organization and productivity doesn't have to stop just because this episode is over. If you want one-tap access to all of my training and current top podcasts, go to the app store or Google play and download the pink B app. It's one word, the pink B. It is jam-packed with simple yet powerful tips and strategies to get you out of overwhelm and into harmony. And if you have a question you want me to cover on a future episode, go to iTunes and ask your question in the podcast review section. And while you're there, don't forget to leave a five-star review.