By Clare Nash, author of Design your life: An architect’s guide to achieving a work/life balance
It’s Spring, and for architects the start of the busiest time of year. Sunshine means more enquiries and languishing projects suddenly spring into action. But despite the apparent urgency of these pressures, it’s important to keep the business side sparkly. Juggling that with increasing workload can be done but requires prioritising and organising (boring sounding I know, but very effective in practice).
I used to leave marketing until Friday as a nice way to end the week. But all too often, deadlines took over and it was postponed for another week. Now I prioritise this work, along with business vision and organising the week ahead. Because it’s a priority I schedule it on a Monday. Starting my week in this way sets me up for the rest of it. Marketing is intrinsically linked to business vision and your goals – what better way to start the week and bring some motivation to the treadmill! Thinking about the type of work and clients that CNA really wants adds a spring in my step during the more challenging work that follows. It all feels worth it, because I know where I’m going.
The 90-day plan
This is in all the business books; you may be bored of hearing about it. But it works. Big, important pieces of work, such as updating your website, switching software, writing a book, diversifying, etc. are all easily procrastinated because they loom so large. Broken down into teeny, tiny steps these mammoth tasks get done. The trouble with a daily to-do list vs the 90-day plan is there’s too much pressure to get it all done, today. An impossible task.
Choose your goals
So how to do a simple 90-day plan? First, choose your goals and always include a personal one - it should never be all about work. Second, make sure they’re ambitious enough: they should feel a bit scary. For example, 1. Win more self-build projects, 2. Double my income, 3. Run 5k twice a week. I would say a maximum of 5 is best. SMART goals (google this) are a useful way to check you’re being clear and specific enough.
Then for each one, break it down into 5 or so chunks that need completing to achieve that goal. For the first goal it could be:
- Write a blog about saving money on your self-build
- Post on Instagram twice a week with pictures of self-builds
- Build my email list
- Attend networking events and pitch about self-builds
- Write case studies about self-builds
Then for each of those 5, write tiny steps towards each one: e.g. research nearby networking events, write bullet points for a blog, decide on a case study to write about, collect some pictures for a case study, write two lines of a case study, ask website person about adding a newsletter sign up to the website, and so on.
Lastly, spread out your tiny steps over 3 months or 90 days. Each week you should only have a handful of tiny tasks to achieve.
For women, you can add some extra magic by planning tasks according to your cycle. It’s like a superpower because everything is much easier with your hormones working with you rather than hindering you.
As an extra tip - including marketing tasks in your 90-day plan will help to avoid the feast and famine cycle. Because being consistent will lead to consistent enquiries.
When you reach the end of the 90 days, celebrate your achievements, and plan out the next 90. This important work should now feel more manageable and will ensure the business ticks along nicely all year round, not just in quiet times. Now your to-do list is more exciting. Not just filled with any old task, these are tasks aligned with your goals. Ticking these off feels extra good!
For more insights from Clare Nash, why not get your hands on a copy of her book?
Clare will be presenting a webinar on 28 April around the content of her book, honing in on niching and creating a happy remote working team. She will explain how these enabled her to achieve higher fees, work on fulfilling projects and enjoy a good work/life balance. Register to attend the event.