Archive for the 'Planning' Category

10 Tips to Conquer Procrastination

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My name is Mark R. LePage and I am a recovering procrastinator.

There… I said it.

After 40+ years, I don’t have much hope of ever finding a cure, but recently I have found some ways to hang on to the wagon and stay focused on getting things done.

Here are 10 tips I’m using to conquer my procrastination.

1. Write out a plan. In order to get anything done, you need to create a plan. What does the end result look like and how are you going to make progress. Write it out. As a serial dreamer, I have hundreds of plans in my head, at all times. The plans that make progress are the ones written down and developed into a clear step-by-step process.

2. Schedule milestones. Progress looks much less daunting when you break things down into smaller easily attained milestones. Set them to specific dates and get to work.

3. Work toward deadlines. The quickest way to NOT get things done is to never NEED to get things done. Set deadlines on each milestone, and base your deadlines on realistic timelines developed in the plan you developed above.

4. Turn away from distractions. In November, I re-instituted my “full media blackout”. I stopped reading the news, turned off the television and tuned the radio away from the talk station. If the world as we know it does in fact end on December 21st, I am quite certain I will hear about it. I am now focused on the things that are fully within my control. The things not within my control are simply distractions. Turn away from the distractions and focus on the things that truly matter most.

5. Stop blaming others. No one else is going to get it done. There is nothing stopping you from progress except YOU. You are in control of the decisions you make and the attitude you choose to adopt.

6. Birth good habits. In his book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessCharles Duhigg deconstructs the habit into three parts; a cue, a routine and a reward. Once you understand that, you may give birth to your own good habits. If you want to do something consistently without the pain and frustration of broken resolutions, make it a habit and watch what happens.

7. Kill bad habits. From what we’ve learned in number 6 above, we can now analyze every bad habit standing in the way of our progress. Identify the cue, the routine and the reward. The key to making sustainable change is keeping the cue and reward, and changing the routine. Do you unnecessarily check your e-mail everyday at the same time, rather than working on those pending construction documents? Identify the cue and reward. The cue may be the time of day. The reward may be a sense of accomplishment. Change the routine to completing a simple task on those drawings and a new habit may be born.

8. Look beyond yourself. Find some inspiration. Find others who have accomplished what you want to accomplish. Learn everything you can about them and how they made progress. When you know that others have done what you are trying to do, you’ll find hope that you too will accomplish your goals.

9. Raise the stakes. As many of you know, I am working on the plan for my 12/12/12 Project. Talk about procrastination. I’ve been trying to make progress on this project for more than a decade. By announcing the concept of the 12/12/12 Project to the world and publicly committing to my plan, I raised the stakes. If I don’t do what I said I’ll do, I will lose credibility with you, my family as well as myself.

10. Start. It may be the most difficult step, but believe me, no task has ever been completed without starting. So, start… and see the procrastination melt away.

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photo credit: Mykl Roventine via photopin cc

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Dream Big: Develop Your Business Plan Using a Narrative

ArchDaily.com picked up my friend and Entrepreneur Architect Linkedin Group member Bob Borson’s blog post today. If you haven’t read Bob’s writings, I recommend that you visit him at LifeofanArchitect.com. Leave him a comment and tell him we said “hi”.

Bob describes how he uses a narrative during the programming phase to learn what his clients want, both functionally as well as emotionally. At Fivecat Studio, we use a similar process using a questionnaire and other fun programming exercises to help guide our clients through the mine field of ideas in their heads. As Bob states in his post, this is “the most important step”.

Bob’s post also reminded me of how I finally developed and finished my business plan for Fivecat Studio. For years I had started and stopped and started and stopped as I attempted to craft a business plan worthy of the organization I had assembled in my head. In fact, I had no less than six separate incomplete documents in the “Business Plan” folder on my PC (I’ve switched over to Macs since then).

So, how did I break the pattern?

I wrote a narrative. I described, in detail, what my business would look like 10 years into the future. I basically described the vision I held in my head for so many years. I had a blast! For one, it’s lots of fun to dream big… with no limits. It was inspiring and helped me focus on what I really wanted to do and where I really wanted to go. It also helped with the development of the rest of my plan. Knowing where I ultimately wanted to end up, helped me develop my plan to get there.

Give it a try. Grab your laptop or a blank piece of paper and start… now! Imagine yourself 10 years from now. What are you doing? Where are you doing it? For whom? Let yourself go. Let your pencil flow. Set no limits and dream big. Your finished business plan is waiting.

Things I Didn’t Learn at Architecture School (But Need to Know): How do I start and keep a business alive?

No one told me that I needed to know how to run a business. I’m an architect. I just need to tack up my shingle, design great buildings and clients will come knocking. Right?

Maybe… but whether clients come knocking or not, its not so simple to keep them knocking.

The solution? Write a business plan.

I know, I know; “I don’t need a business plan,” you say. “It takes too much time and effort.”

Wait! Before you discount my suggestion, think about it from a different perspective. A simple, stripped down perspective. Your first business plan doesn’t need to be a 100 page document, with financial projections and fully developed marketing strategies. In fact, I recommend that it not be. Start with just one page.

Jim Horan, author of The One Page Business Plan series of books says, “The greatest value in creating a business plan is not the final document. It’s the communication, prioritization, focus, clarity and learning that make the process worthwhile.”

Get started by taking a single sheet of paper and writing a single paragraph describing your vision. What will your business someday look like? Then scribe your mission. Why are you starting this business? List a few simple strategies. How do you get there? Then a few specific goals; benchmarks that will lead you to executing your strategies. With goals set, commit to paper an action plan. What specific tasks will you accomplish to reach your goals? When will you accomplish them? Who will accomplish them?

That’s it… a business plan. Done. It really is that simple.

I revisit and revise my business plan at least twice a year. As our firm grows and evolves, priorities change, markets shift, economies collapse. My business plan needs to evolve too. It’s also a great source of inspiration and motivation. A periodic reminder of my big ideas and reasons-for-being, keeps me focused and wanting to push Fivecat Studio to the next level.

So, go do it. Now… Don’t wait. Reach over and grab a sheet of paper.

What’s your vision?

How Many Business Plans Have YOU Started?

I started at least a dozen business plans for Fivecat Studio, before I finally finished one. The task is overwhelming. Executive Statement? Financial Reports? Fun stuff…

The trick?

Keep it fun, follow your passion and start with one simple page.

Below are five questions. Answer each question with three sentences (no more – no less). When you’re done answering these questions, you’ll have a plan.

  1. What is the mission of your firms?
  2. What is your vision for the firm?
  3. What are the strategies you will use to accomplish your mission for the firm?
  4. What are the specific goals you have set using your strategies?
  5. What are the specific action plans you will use to meet your goals?

This is how I did it.

Our first completed business plan was a single page. It’s been significantly expanded since then and each year we revisit the plan, revise it, add to it and use it to keep us on course. Its been a key factor in the success of Fivecat Studio.

As an architect, you know you cannot build a successful building without a plan. As an Entrepreneur Architect, you must develop a plan in order to create a successful business.

CRAN Symposium Focuses on Business Planning

From AIA National:

Full Spectrum Practice: AIA CRAN Symposium
October 19–21, 2007
Hotel Allegro
Chicago
Conference Information
Online Registration
Registration Form (PDF)

The AIA Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) is hosting a national one-day symposium, titled Full Spectrum Practice, at the Hotel Allegro in Chicago. The symposium will focus on the essential techniques of business planning and marketing for custom residential design firms. To better illustrate the principles at hand, presenters will focus on business growth opportunities in sustainable design and digital home technology. Please click here for complete information.


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