Rules 22: Know what you want short term

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Industrialist and younger brother to Billionaire Aliko  Dangote, Alhaji Sani Dantata

How short is short term?  That’s entirely up to you.  I have three short-term plans on the go – this month, this year, five years.  This seems to provide me with sufficient information to plan my work load.  It also allows me to work in, in the short term, plans that affect my family.  I can allow for holidays, changes of school, garden/house projects and birthdays, Christmas, that sort of thing.
·                    Your one month short-term plan should obviously list current work projects – deadlines, prioritized tasks, basic routines.  This is for work actually being carried out. 


·                    Your one year plan should have projects which are being formulated, planned, presented, whatever.  This is for work being planned rather than executed.

·                    Your five year plan should be for ideas, dreams, goals, wishes, wants; it is for work you intend executing one day.

Your long-term plan will have a career path built into it.  Your five year plan will take into it any steps you need to carry out that long-term plan.

“All plans should include practical steps to put into action and make them happen.  Otherwise they aren’t ‘plans’ but vague ideas”

I tend to keep three separate records for these three short term plans.  My one month plan is kept on a clipboard on the desk.  It contains a single sheet which lists boxes for deadlines, return phone calls, things to do.  I supposed it’s a bit like a calendar but without daily entries.

My one year plan lives on the wall.  It isn’t a wall chart or year planner but again a single sheet with twelve boxes.  In each box is a month with the relevant info of what I want to do during that time.  It is what I want to do rather than what I have to do.  It is a short-term plan not a to-do list or a calendar or a work schedule.  As I am freelance I have to generate work.  This work – being done during my one month plan or being generated during my one year plan – is my bread and butter.  It is made up of projects I want to do and projects I have to do.  The ones I have to do are the bread and the ones I want to do are the butter – such as this book which has been a delight to plan and write. 

My five year plan is for my general direction – what sort of work do I want to be doing over the next five years?  Your short-term plan will include work you have to do, but it will be mainly for work you want to do.  The shorter the term the more likely it is to read like your work schedule and less like a wish lists.

All plans should include practical steps to put into action and make them happen.  Otherwise they aren’t ‘plans’ but vague ideas.

Within any of these plans you have to build a contingency.  Someone phones you up with a project, you can’t turn it down on the basis that it isn’t in your plan.  You have to be flexible.

 (Excerpts from THE RULES OF WORK by Richard Templer Read “How to study the Promotion System” from The Rules tomorrow on Asabeafrika)
Rule-to-Work Series
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