The Traffic Light System of Priorities and Building Your Strategy

by Melanie Boylan
Business Mindset
Social Media How To’s and Top Tips

This has been rummaging around in my brain for some time now and I've tried all sorts of weird and wonderful names but I think this one sounds the most descriptive. Previously known as the Idea Box and Brain Dump Sheet - although descriptive they weren't really accurate. So let me explain how this concept works and how it can be effective to start a framework for your strategy.

Goals, Ideas and their Priorities

Whether you're a StartUp, ScaleUp, individual or team manager - this is extremely useful plan of action for you. When thinking of what to work on over the next quarter it helps that you build a firm understanding of all the moving parts necessary to get things done.

Needs / Wants / Demands

First up, if you're on your own, set aside some time and a large plain A4 sheet of paper or heck a whole pile if you're really busy. If you're a team manager then make sure you bring everyone into a room to get this done. Now literally brain fart everything that hasn't got done, planning to do and what you would like to do. Now you may have noticed that paragraph title is Needs, Wants and Demands. This is meant to remind you of the three factors to think of as you do this exercise.

> What do you need to get done to match your current goals?

> What would you like / want to get done if you could?

> What does your audience expect you to have in place?

Fill out these sheets of paper and really let go, think of everything you have ever considered and unleash on these sheets.

Now come's the important part. Let me give you an example. If you said I want to get or update a website as one of the parts on the sheet, now break that down to exactly what's needed to make that possible. If you want a brand new website you'll need to create a website map, create wording (copy), find images, write blogs perhaps add things to the background like Calendly if you want people to contact you. Each of these things need to be written down as well. Now let's say you want to update the website, first of all why?  Is it because of its speed, poor SEO, maybe you have "heavy" images?  Each of these things need extra work to make your plan a possibility. With all this taken into consideration, now update your sheet of A4 and put all the little and big activities you need to do to make what you want possible.

Time to Outsource

Some of the things you would like to do will need to be outsourced. Using the website idea again, you may need to get someone else to do that or maybe parts of it. Make sure what you put on the sheet includes looking for quotes and time for updates on the progress of work. Other things you may want to outsource might be accountants. You'll need to get quotes for them too.

Time to Train

Another thing to consider is you may want to make time to upskill and build on your knowledge. Sometimes all you need is a one day course, others might be over months or even over a year or so.

Time to Fundraise

Consider the money side of things. You may (back to this again) want a website but good ones don't come cheap. Do you have to set aside several months to pay a deposit and then go on a payment plan? If so, this needs to be an element of your priorities as well. Maybe you have to complete a whole financial projection for the year or more to make your plan feasible.

Once you have written all of these things down AND the steps to make them possible you need to look at the amount of steps for each one. Here's another example:

I need to create posts for the next month

To do this I need to see what's relevant in my niche, post thinking about what's in it for my audience and add a call to action to motivate them towards my goals.

I may need to create images to help my post stand out for each platform

Once my audience has followed my call to action - I have to follow up, how do I do that?

I need to create a stand for my business at an event happening in 3 months time

I need to understand my stand placement and size, who are my competitors going to be at the event and what can I offer different to entice my audience? Who can I approach to make and provide my stand? How much will it cost? What is the anticipated delivery dates?  Do I have to get specially made up signs to fit the venue?  How many people can be onsite at the stand?  When should I start advertising?  

Can you see, as we think of each of the steps involved it helps you build an understanding of the time and financial investment. You'll also understand that you need to allow time to hear back from others and this time needs to then be built into your Strategy.

Colour Code with Traffic Lights

Now get that very filled out sheet(s) of A4 and start colouring in as follows:

> You can do this yourself in the next 2 weeks with little or no assistance = Green

> You can do this yourself but you need to do something to make it possible = Amber

> You can't do this yourself, you need to bring someone else in to make it possible = Red

With these colours in mind, now set about diarying everything - either in your hardback diary or online diary. I personally use Google Calendar because its free and updates easily on the laptop or on the phone and I can even add the colours to see visually what's coming up. I also tend to not misplace my diary by using a digital one!

Now you need to update your diary every 1 to 2 weeks and you'll be changing your reds to amber and then to green as stuff gets done.

The further out something is, the likely more individual steps you'll need to take to make it happen, all of these steps need to be taken into account and added to your strategy. Remember on top of all of this is your "everyday" stuff too. You may want to also add holidays, doctors appointments and childrens commitments.

I have been using this system for over 2 years now and have found it so much easier to reach my planned for goals and even goal setting has become easier because I can now look at it at a holistic level.

I hope you find this as useful as I have. Let me know if you have any questions!

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