I used to do a lot of my planning in my head. Just thinking and then making random announcements to my team of new things we were going to start. Once I applied for a grant to run an after-hours clinic – we were successful, and then I announced the project to my team – I never thought about their thoughts on working after hours! Certainly, something we should have planned out. That taught me a valuable lesson in sitting down to plan my practice quarterly with team members
- Prepare your people: Work out who will be part of your planning session and let them know what you would like the outcome to be. Ensure everyone is clear on the date, time, what they need to bring (don’t just think physical things, but also what ideas do they need to bring – some people need time to think of things), and where to be. Ensure your people know ahead of time the expected outcome so they can come with the right mindset.
- Prepare the agenda: I used to prefer to just wing it and go with the flow, but it is easy to get off and get to the end of the session and realise the planning session time has ended, but you were only on the second discussion point. Create an agenda and stick to timelines you have set for it.
- Prepare the space: Work out the best place to host your planning session. Sometimes the best places are away from the normal working environment. Your house might be a good place, a hotel function room, or a café. If you are thinking somewhere that is a shared public space, like a café, be mindful of the time you will take, and the busyness of the environment so you are not annoying others around you sprawling out and taking up seats, and that you are in a place that allows you to think quietly.
- Prepare what to bring: Think also about what you need to bring – do people need things to write on, look at, review in advance, and do you need a calendar to help you plan ahead when tasks might happen. If people need to have read up on something, allow ample time. Something I love to bring along to planning days I have is a large calendar so I can plot things on there, and different coloured textas or pens to make it visual.
If you haven’t completed any planning in a long time, I would encourage you to do so before the end of the year.