Learning how to writing action plan can greatly help with your workplace efficiency. When it comes to drafting epic plans we have Engineering Cybernetics; for less grand plans we have project management as well as behavior management. We can see such behavior of planning manifest in every aspect of our daily lives.
Drafting a cunning plan can maximize our productivity while we perform each and every task daily, not just in a scale as grand as system engineering , but it also helps us spending our days more pleasantly, although an action plan benefits each individual in an highly individualistic manner
What is action plan
Action plan is a set of actions you will perform based on your strategic planning to achieve your ultimate goal.
Action plans determine what procedures or steps to take in order to attain success and it is an indispensable constituent of Artificiality intelligence while such technology tackles problems. Sometimes we also call an action plan a blueprint.
However, action plans may still put your creative thinking in a cage of confines that limit further searches, and it also hinders problem-solving procedures. Sub projects or sub-tasks intertwining and interacting together will complicate indexing as well as problem-solving (also known as feature creep).
You will need to plan every single detail specially. For examples,
- What are the tasks help achieve the goal?
- What are the deadlines for each of the tasks as well as the ultimate goal?
- What resources to be used to complete the tasks?
It helps get things organized. It also helps you stay focused on what action steps to do now and next, as well as how to do them in order to achieve your goal. I will also cover how to create a DIY action plan template in this article.
How to write Action Plan
1. Identify goals and seek for solutions
Before you go for action, you always need to know what you are doing. In this case, you are taking action to achieve your goals. Therefore, you will need to know clearly what your goals are. And then what kind of solution needs be done to achieve the goals.
2. Set a deadline
Time is limited. Ask yourself when you need the goal to be accomplished. It doesn’t need to be accurate, but you get a target. It helps you the future planning steps about what task should be done in what time what the limited time constraint. You will be more focus on completing all the task to achieve your goals before the deadline.
3. List of tasks
The big picture has been drawn. Now, you need to set out what kind of action or tasks are needed to be done to reach your goals. It involves prorization. What should I do first? What should I do next after X is done? And so on. Be mindful of the deadline you set in the previous steps. You may need to scarify some tasks because of time constraint.
4. Analyze and allocate resources
Actions are not necessarily needed to be purely done by yourself. Make sure you delegate the tasks that are time consuming or are not in your expertize. The aim is to complete the tasks efficiently. Resources are limited like time, you need to have a good budget planning on what tasks to delegate and what tasks to be done by yourself and still can accomplish your goals effectively.
5. Schedule your actions
Now everything is planned. The final step is to take action to implement your action plan. Prepare a schedule that writes down your goals and deadline clearly, set what time to do each task that you’ve planned and the resources needed. Remember to also set a deadline for each task and make sure you stick with your schedule. Review the Schedule regularly depending on your circumstance and make any adjust of the tasks if necessary.
Why should you develop an simple action plan
A workable or practical plan will add controllability to your daily work, which also strengthen self-empowerment and your leadership skills.
2. Get yourself more organized
A sound plan will greatly help you prioritize tasks, by discerning what’s urgent and important, from what’s not urgent nor import; it also makes you better at time management thereby enabling you to work on them in a more organized manner. You can refer to 80 20 rule explained.
Create an action plan that fits in your own needs of development and characteristics will empower you to take initiatives to take further actions and learn more, which will create a virtuous cycle, perpetuating your good habits and virtues on and on.
People tend to say, reality changes faster than plans, as a proverb. (We may see some variants of such proverbs as well , such as “Hope for the best yet prepare for the worst), and don’t get dogmatic with drafting plans. On the contrary, adequate plans enable you to better accommodate and adapt to changes( the unexpected) more smoothly and more swiftly without causing much trouble and pain to you. Having plans, despite the rapid changes that are always occurring in the reality, also facilitate progressing to the predetermined objectives therefore success. More importantly, having plans will help you think more clearly with rationality, logic and it makes your actions highly methodical and surgical thereby enabling you to make better decisions based on the most accurate conclusions and factual figures. Having an adequate plan with space and time to manoeuvre always facilitates actualising your dreams and goals because it helps with improvisations, which is exactly the purpose it serves. A sound plan should always take improvisation into consideration.
Is your goal SMART enough?
When asking how to write action plan, you have to ask yourself if your goal SMART enough.
When you are setting goals it doesn’t only mean you just need to outline them on a piece of paper, you must also consider the specifics, how to execute them and how we should assess our performance in order to determine if we have accomplished the goals.
You will stand little chance of success without having getting yourself prepared by carefully considering these items.
For example,having a goal of losing weight without a solid plan will get you nowhere but ending up giving up losing weight, after several days of “fasting”(starving), and jogging.
Yet, instead, your hard work will eventually bear fruits, once you do so with following a solid and specific plan, detailing crucial information such as daily calorie intake , the frequency of exercising on a weekly basis, and the time-frame of losing the amount of weight you desire, etc. Your effort shall proven much more effective, with a plan similar to this.
It always take a great deal of hard work and sweat to attain a goal, I’ve outlined several techniques of goal setting below.
Introduced by Peter Drucker in 1954. he suggested that goal setting should follow these 5 criteria : S(specific), M(Measurable parameters/values/numbers, sometimes can be also understood as being quantifiable) , A(attainable goals), R(Relevant to being organised and the organizations), T(Time-based, with clearly defined due dates/deadlines).
Make your goals have rooms to accommodate more creativity, you mustn’t set goals that are too generic in nature, typically speaking , “I want to become someone epic”, ” I want to make money”, “I would like to make more sales/generate more profits”, et cetera, goals like these won’t get you anywhere. You must specify what you desire to accomplish when it comes to goals setting. For instance, finish reading 100 books, increasing your savings to $100000, make your sales grow by 50%, set sufficiently specific goals so you can find specific ways to actualize them by taking real actions. \/
Expect multitudes of tasks coming your way and pending to get accomplished once you have finished setting goals/objectives. Yet just because , at first glance, you have wrapped up these items that are pending to get wrapped up, it doesn’t mean you have accomplished your goals, you still need to benchmark the results against the standard to determine whether we can call it success or otherwise.
For example : I want to become a great person therefore I ,must finish reading 100 books. Judging by such standard I also need to come up with 100 x passages which demonstrate my authentic effort invested in gaining the skills and knowledge from these books.
Besides, we may also judge the quality of my writings by examining its coherence and cohesion and clarity in the expressions I used(assuming I published these writings online). It could indicate poor quality or lack of understanding of the books I’ve read, if my writings /reading notes failed to attract at least 1000 views per passage.
You must make every goal/objective quantifiable or measurable, with benchmarks. standards (or KPIs). Furthermore you must assess your performance (that says, examining the results of your hard work and compare them with the predetermined KPIs) in order to make you are on the right track, and to make sure your methodologies are appropriate.
Having goals doesn’t necessarily mean you can accomplish them. Consider what sorts of weapons you have available at your disposal to accomplish these goals. Also you must plan the methodology through which you attain these goals beforehand. Only by so doing can you increase the chance of success.
We are bound to meet setbacks and temptations while we execute our plans of actions, which will severely hinder our effort and progress and motivation, thereby becoming sidetracked or deviated from the original goal, characterised by getting ourselves involved in irrelevant tasks or affairs. On some occasions, having impractical ideas about the methodology of plans’ executions can also indicate we have been sidetracked by temptations on the way to success. As a result, in order to ensure success by continuous devotion to the cause, we must constantly keep an eye on our progress and how far we and how much more we still need to invest in effort before we can call it “mission accomplished”.
Pay special attention to time-based (aka time sensitive) tasks or missions. As time-sensitivity plays a vital role in goal-setting, planning, and project management. You must make your goals time based /time sensitive or else you would very much likely lose passion for attaining them because of human’s intrinsic nature of becoming lazy once they live without stress and limits of time. See time-based/time-sensitive tasks as a kind of motivator and shackle that drive you to success.
Example action plan for goal settings – Interpersonal relationships
Make yourself a table that outline the current status of your relationships with every one with whom you crossed paths, such as your co-workers, team members, classmates, parents, partners, children and others. In the meantime, seek to improve and strengthen your relationships with them. For instance, you may want to fill in a goal like ” get myself a girlfriend” on the table. or fill in ” improve communications with my colleagues.” et cetera.
Disciple yourself by changing your lifestyle
This can include but are not limited to , making sure you finish today’s work instead of procrastinating on doing them, going to bed early and getting up early, making sure you learn a new skill on a regular basis, developing good digital habits such as limiting the time you spend surfing the net & time spend on social media such as Facebook & usage of smartphone , et cetera.
Such aspect refers to anything that has something to do with your body, such as health problems, overweight or underweight, issues with sleeping/sleep deficiency, et cetera.
As a result you make curing fatty liver, lowering body fat percentage (BFP) , as well as having an eight-hour sleep every night your goals.
Anything that has something to do with human mind fall into such field of study. Such as anxiety, //// not knowing how to say no to people or thing you dislike, insecurities, et cetera Perhaps you may want to set ” learning to control your anxieties ” & ” learning to say no with elegance” as your goals in this particular area.
Put them here those that relates to your income. salaries, savings, trust/funds management and investment. For instance you may document your goals relating to finance here, like aiming to increase your annual income by 20%, salary to be up by 15%, aiming to learn how to invest, manage funds, purchase real estates as well as cutting your monthly spending by 20%, et cetera
Your own abilities can and should improve over time, such as learning things about business, learn how to brief and debrief your team members, interpersonal communication skills, also pay attention to your time management skills (assuming you weren’t good at such skill) et cetera
Accomplishments in careers and jobs
You may outline your accomplishments relating to your work here. Additionally, display other information here, such as the details of your role, details about your work environment, shifts rotations, promotions, switching jobs or switching roles, strive to make continuous improvements, don’t get sacked, (but once you do get sacked) seek other employment, so on so forth.
Foster or create some hobbies for yourself deliberately, and they don’t have to necessarily relate to your work, such as travelling, reading as well as drawing(typically using a pencil) et cetera.
I believe you will discover your paths after giving yourself of some reflections of your past. You will also be able to pinpoint your future direction towards which you want to go. On the other hand, you might probably discover you have plenty of things to do, which also means , here comes the moment when you must learn to prioritise and postpone them accordingly to your needs and circumstance. Ask yourself what you should give up and what you shouldn’t, what must be done promptly(tasks that require completion within the next 3 months) and what you don’t have to rush to wrap up(tasks/projects that are due in one year). More often than not, success is about trade-offs and making compromises.
Be mindful (of potential pitfalls). However, this doesn’t mean setting long-term goals doesn’t matter. But instead, we must all train ourselves to gain and improve goal-setting skills by getting started with short-term goal-setting first. “You must learn how to walk before you can run.” Excelling in actualising short-term goals will make our long-term goals more fruitful and more attainable. \/
What is Strategic planning
Strategic planning is the long-term goal of the organization and the planning of its implementation. It is a formal process and ritual, and mainstream business-management programs such as MBA include corporate strategic planning and execution as an important module for any level of people. SWOT analysis is often used for strategic planning.
First, you need to have an objective to achieve. Then, you will find a set of tactics that helps achieve the objective. After that, you set a set of tasks to be done based on your strategy and plan it in detail. This is the combination of how strategic planning and action plan are set to achieve a specific goal.
Strategic planning process
The strategic plan is to develop the long-term goals and to put it into practice. It is a formal process and ritual. Some big companies are taking the initiative to plan for things within 5-10 years. The development of strategic planning is divided into three stages:
1. Determine the goal. That is, the enterprise in the future development process to meet the various changes to achieve the goal.
2. Planning. After the goal has been determined, considering by what means, what measures and what methods to achieve this goal. This is strategic planning.
3. To form a text of strategic planning for evaluation, approval and revision.
The characteristics of strategic planning
The effectiveness of strategic planning includes two aspects.
First, whether the strategy is correct, the correct strategy should be a good match between the resources and the environment. Second, whether the strategy is suitable for the management process of the Organization that is to match the organizational activities.
An effective strategy generally has the following characteristics:
1. Clear objectives
The objectives of strategic planning should be clear. The content should be inspiring. The goal must be advanced but achievable based on the efforts. The language of its description should be firm and concise.
The description of a good strategy should be clear and enforceable, and it should be a guide for people at all levels to understand it, execute it and align their strategy with it.
3. Personnel implementation
Individual strategic plans define the responsibilities of each individual and can fully mobilize the enthusiasm of everyone. On the one hand, inspire people to the ways of thinking. On the other hand, increase the vitality and creativity of the organization. In a complex organization, it is difficult to identify all opportunities by only counting on the top leaders.
The goals may not change over time, but the scope of its activities and the form of planning can be constantly changing. The strategic plan being developed at every single stage is only a temporary document, which is only applicable to the present and should be periodically checked and reviewed, and flexible enough to adapt to the needs of change.
1. Lack of long-term development planning. There is no clear development strategy and competitive strategy.
2. Strategic decision-making is more arbitrary and lack of scientific decision-making mechanism.
3. The judgment of the company strategy depends solely on the intuition and experience of the leaders. Although the staff hard work, if the leadership is conscientious, the enterprise is stagnant.
4. Lack of awareness of the market and the competitive environment and lack of quantitative objective analysis.
5. Blindly chasing the market hot spots and over diversification, resulting in scattered resources and management confusion.
6. Strategy formulation does not communicate fully between the stakeholders leading to the lack of understanding and support within the organization of the established strategy.
7. The strategic objectives have not been fully decomposed There is no specific action plan and cannot be implemented into the day-to-day activities.
Strategic planning examples
Dominant brand recognition: Amazon is synonymous with online sales services, and Amazon is focused on improving customer satisfaction in its business process.
Pioneer Advantage: Amazon is undoubtedly the leader in the online retailing industry.
Cost structure: Amazon effectively utilizes cost advantages, operates in thin profits, and is still profitable in trading.
Business development: Amazon continuously improves its service level and provide diversified services.
Low margins: Amazon has a slim profit margin to maintain its cost-leading strategy. But low margins make companies susceptible to external shocks and crises, as well as other market changes.
Seasonality: Amazon has a seasonal difference in revenue and business scope, with sales and revenue peaking in the fourth quarter of each year.
Amazon is a platform supporting diversified e-commerce business. The growing focus on the products and services of their own brands Amazon. There can be opportunity for the local sites to participate in the international market with the international expansion of Amazon. This is a win-win situation for both Amazon and businesses cooperate strategically and develop the industry.
4. Threats Due to low profit margins
Amazon suffers from patent infringement and other litigation
The entry barriers to electronic commerce industry weaken
The network security problem
No surprise, we will certainly have a lot of goals in our life can not be achieved. We must ask ourselves seriously: if there is another chance, which goals do you want to achieve from heart? How many goals have you missed?
The key to achieve your goal is to take thorough action. Let us take a look action plan in detail.
DIY Action Plan templates: 3W – Where, Why, What
The first step for setting up DIY action plan template is to set the goals, plans, visions, or dreams that you want to achieve this year. Think about what you want to achieve before the last day of the year. Do you want to have a lighter posture? How much money do you want to save? Do you want to learn a new language? In short, what are the things you want to accomplish in the year. This is the 1st W: Where do you want to take yourself this year? The direction that you want to focus this year.
The second step for creating this action plan template is to write down what you want to achieve. Get it out of your heart and it will be your motivation to remind yourself like the alarm that your goal is worth to be achieved. Many people set the goal and throw it aside, or because they are too busy at work to slow down the progress. These are all because of forgetting their original plan. At this moment, ask yourself the 2nd W: What is the emotional source that causes you to achieve your goals? Why is there such a resonance?
The third step for writing an action plan template is to do something that really helps you achieve your goals. This is the action step that everyone should be familiar with. Yes, To-do-List. However, I am not talking about 3 or 5 items. I am talking about to list out as many tasks as possible as long as you think those actions will help achieve the goals.
The point is that when you start out, don’t care about if the actions works out great or not, or if they are effective. Just simply write down all the ways you think will work. After that, apply the 80/20 rule to pick the most productive projects from the list. If you find that the one you picked is not as effective as you think it is, then choose another one from the list. Also, group the tasks that can be done together and do them once.
The point is that if you can think of any action can help you achieve you goat, go for it. You can always adjust the effectiveness of the actions. This is the 3rd W: What should you do to accomplish your goal?
You should have wrapped up budgeting your available resources once you have determined the desired outcome(s) for each goal you’ve set. The next step you’d take is figuring out what action steps to take next. As a result, taking actions lies as near as 1 mile away from finalising goals setting. Sounds simple enough. nevertheless you still have a few things to worry about and be mindful of, before you executing the plans of actions.
First and foremost, actions must directly relate to the desired outcomes. Simply put, you cannot count an action as a success without getting the outcomes you want. If you didn’t yield any success then it may suggest that either your methodologies are faulty, or it’s because you failed to fully implement your plans (that says, you didn’t take enough actions to ensure each action step or method had been rigorously applied).
Next, substitute long-term actions with short-term actions/effort. Which is also the definition of the so-called ” Agile development”, setting goals that are too big or planning grand actions in scale will greatly test evenyour patience and resilience, so doing will also likely cause to neglect the variables that may occur during executions of plans, thereby hindering the progress and your hard work. As a result, experts highly recommend that you set seasonal or quarterly goals instead of annual goals, better yet, divide the quarterly goals into monthly goals/objectives. Then you should act accordingly to the changing circumstances (that says, you’d better improvise on a monthly basis).
As time passes, our plan may run either behind or ahead of the schedule/plan, so will the resources available to you vary. Therefore taking short-term actions or executing short term plans will generate a faster feedback for you, which allows you more space and time to adjust the direction and/ or the intensity of your effort accordingly in order to improvise better.
So wrap up setting your annual goals before you proceed to set quarterly goal(s) then monthly goals. Practice that as often as you can and you will become adept at such methodology.
Last but not least, makes sure to include some sort of output parameters for each plan you draft. You certainly don’t want to invest your hard work in vain not knowing how well you’ve performed or how effective your methods have been( and how to assess / benchmark your own performance). As a result I’d like to strongly advise you to assign desired outcome(s) for each plan of action. That says you should strive to ensure a key desired outcome to happen as a result of many different plans of actions, and vice versa.
All your desired/desirable outcomes (or successful output) summed up should equal your success overall.