Hey, everyone. It's Sam Ovens here and I wanted to make this quick video for you guys just to show you how I plan my new year and how I'm planning 2018 this year and plotting out all of my strategies and major initiatives and also how to really prioritize different projects and things. One thing that's fascinating about time is that every human being has exactly the same amount. There's no place where somebody gets more time than someone else. Every single one of us have the exact same amount of hours in a day.
What's fascinating is that some people manage to achieve so much more than others and it really comes down to how you plan your year, how you plan your quarter, your month, your week, your day, and really how you plot everything out on a map so that you make sure that you get things done and really achieve your goals. Now, I wanted to just share with you guys here the tools that I use to plan my year and basically plot everything.
Now, the cool thing about these tools is that I made them myself just in Google Docs and anyone can use them. They're totally for free and I have included the link to both of them beneath this video in the description. If you look down there, you'll see two links. One is for something called a RICE Project Scoring Tool and it looks like this and the other is for the 2018 War Map, which looks like this.
Now, you can click the linK, it'll open up in Google Drive, and then to save it to your Google Drive, all you do is click File, Make a Copy, and then you can rename it and save it to your Google Drive. Then you can use this online in your own web browser. That's what's really cool about this is it's in the cloud. It's online. You can just access it in your web browser and then what you can do is just up here, you can drag this icon into your nav bar and just rename it as Calendar, and bam, you've got yourself a calendar that you can access with one click. You can also share it with other people on your team or whatever and they can see it live.
Now, let me explain how I go about planning my year and how you can do the same yourself. So, this first tool is the 2018 War Map. This is basically how I plot my year from a bird's eye view perspective and plot my months and my days so that I can make sure I get everything done. Now, the first thing to note about this tool is that we've got the Dashboard tab and this tab basically shows us the whole year from a bird's eye view. So, all 12 months, what does the year look like?
We tend to think that a year is a long amount of time and it's a huge amount of time, but plot it on a dashboard like this, it actually looks very short. So, it really puts things in perspective and allows you to really view the whole year just on one page. What I like to do is plot my major initiatives and major things and milestones on this dashboard here and then drill into each individual month and then plot the individual days. So, you can see along here, you can see every different day and every different month and then within there, every different day.
So, this calendar provides you with the bird's eye view perspective, the month perspective, and the day by day perspective. That's why I like it so much. I haven't been able to find a single calendar tool, not Google Calendar, not anything, that gives me this much flexibility and this many different perspectives of things. So, let's talk about the process that I go through when I plan my year.
So, the first thing I do is I start on the dashboard of this war map here. Then what I do is plot the major things that I know are fixed and are definitely happening. So, if you've got a vacation, if you're holding some live events or attending some events, if you have some family commitments or anything, you want to block those out of your calendar first. So, what I like to do is take a five day break at the end of every quarter. So, a quarter is every 90 days. That's how the business world works, like Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4.
I like to set a lot of milestones and projects on a quarterly basis. Then at the end of every quarter, I like to take a five day break. So, you'll see 90 days happens, five day break. 90 days happens, five day break. 90 days, happens, five day break. Then what I've done here is just highlighted the five days, gone up to this paint bucket tool, selected the color, and then using this key over here, I just type what this is. So, end of Q1 vacation.
Now, if you're not having a vacation there, what you'll do is you just highlight these things here, select the paint bucket tool, and just change it back to white, and then just change the text color back to black. Simple as that. So, you can adjust and adapt this calendar for yourself. Now, if I wanted to mark it again, I could just highlight these, paint bucket tool, red, and I might change the text to white just so it's easier to see. Then you can edit these in here. You can change the colors to whatever you want in this key. You can change the labels or whatever you want.
So, the first thing I do is just plot my vacations, which happen for five days at the end of every quarter. This is a time for me to relax and spend some quality time with my wife and recharge my batteries and reflect on the quarter that's just been and really think about the quarter that's about to happen. So, I've plotted out these ones first. Now, let's say you're holding some live events. You could highlight these and you could select this purple color here. Then you could go, "Live event." All right? That's how it works. I'm sure you get the basics of it now. It's pretty simple, pretty easy to understand, pretty easy to use.
So, the first thing I do is block out the major holidays, vacations, or whatever that are in my calendar. The next thing I want to do is plot the major milestones or major projects that I want to complete in the year. Now, before we plot these, we really need to ask ourselves, what is it that we're trying to achieve? What are you really trying to achieve by the end of 2018? What are your goals? Once you've set your goals, you want to reverse engineer them and figure out what's going to make those goals come to life, like what actions, what projects is going to make those goals happen.
Then you need to really prioritize those projects and actions. That's what I like to use this RICE Project Scoring Tool for. So, RICE just stands for reach, impact, confidence, effort. You can see here, RICE. This tool is really awesome. It really helps me be objective on things and it removes a lot of the emotion and bias out of decision making. It uses an algorithm to do that instead of just your emotions and things like that.
So, in this bar here, you can see I created a little help description to explain what each one is and how it works. So, like I said, the first thing you want answer is, "What am I trying to achieve in 2018?" Let's say you want to just double your business. You want to take it from one million a year to two million a year. All right? In order to do that, you need to work on some major initiatives. The first one might be a new website. The second one might be a new webinar, and then a new funnel. Another one might be two hire an internal media buyer. Another one might be to hire a sales team. All right? I'm just making these things up.
Now, once we know these projects and what needs to happen here, we want to prioritize them. We want to know what order should we attack this because we want to attack the most potent thing first. We always want to be prioritizing the most potent and powerful action first. Once we know the correct order that they're in, then we can plot these on the war map calendar. So, in order to work out the impact of these things, we use this RICE Project Scoring Tool.
Now, the first thing we have to answer is reach. How many customers will this project impact over a single quarter? So, think about a new website. Let's say in a quarter, that's 90 days, how many people is that going to impact? Let's say it's 500. All right? How many people is that going to reach? Then impact. How much will this project increase conversion rate when a customer encounters it? So, this one's how many people is this project going to reach? The next one is how much of an increase in the conversion is this project going to create when customers or people interact with it?
So, normal might be 0.25. Low, 0.5. Medium, 1x. High, 2x. Massive, 3x. Now, it's important for me to tell you that we don't know these things exactly. These are guesses. These are educated guesses. All right? No one can know for certain what's going to happen in the future. But by mapping it out like this, it allows us to be more objective and make better decisions than just simply guessing it or winging it like most people do. So, we estimate the reach, then the impact, and I'm going to say this impact is going to be a two, a 2x multiplier.
The next one is confidence. So, how confident are you about the optimistic estimates for reach, impact, and effort? So, this one here asks you how confident you are in your guess here. So, if you're uncertain, then you're probably going to want to select 20% or less. But if you're absolutely certain, which it's very rare to be certain about anything, so you want to be careful. A lot of people think that they're absolutely certain about things, but it's a dangerous position to be in. You're never really 100% certain about anything until it's really happened. So, you almost never give anything 100% certainty. But you'll pretty much your confidence level here. So, let's say on this one, I'm 15% confident.
Now, the final one is effort. Here, you estimate the total amount of time a project will require from all members of your team. This is done in person months. So, one person, one month is one. Or one person, three months is three. Or two people, one month, that's two. All right? So, you get how it works. So, let's say for this new website project, it's going to take one person, one month. I put in one. Now you see what happens is this RICE score calculates a score here for you.
So, then let's say the new webinar, let's say this thing has the potential to impact or to reach 2,000 people. The impact, I believe, is going to be a three. The confidence, let's say this one is 75. Effort, let's say this one is 0.5. Then the RICE score, if we drag it down like this, we can see this is 9,000. What's really interesting about this tool is it takes into account everything: your confidence, the impact, the amount of people it's going to reach, and most importantly, effort and time, how long it's going to take.
So, if we had two equal projects, let's just say the new funnel is going to be equal here, but the only difference is time, and let's say it's going to take one month instead of half a month, you can see how it changes this score here. So, you basically go through and you score each one of your projects, which you believe is going to help you achieve your main thing, your main goal for the year. Once you've done that, I'll just change these around a bit, these are just examples. Once you've done that, you can see here the RICE score. The higher the score, the higher the impact the item.
So, right here, I can see the two highest. I'll change this one here to two just so we've got a clear winner. So, here, the highest impact one is the new webinar. All right? Now, what's fascinating about this tool is that often, it shows you that you should be prioritizing something, which you wouldn't prioritizing. Often, we want to work on something and we're sure the thing we want to work on is the thing that we should work on. But when we use this tool, it actually shuffles it around and prioritizes it in a totally different order.
So, when you're planning your year, you should use this tool and be really honest with yourself and be really objective with yourself and with your goals and actions. Then as soon as this RICE tool has given you the order, then you can say, "This is going to be number one. This is number two." Then we'll say, "This is number three, then number four, and then number five." Now, we have an order for these things. All right?
Now, once we have an order for these things, we can start putting them into months. So, let's say I'm going to work on this one in January and it's going to take half a month. So, I'm going to say start date is January the 15th, 2018. Finish date is going to be January the 30th, 2018. All right? So, now we've got a list of actions and they're prioritized and we've got a start and finish date. Then let's say the next one is going to be, this one's going to happen February and I'm going to start this on the 1st of February, 2018 and it takes half a month to complete, so I'm going to finish it on February the 15th, 2018. All right?
I'm pretty sure you get the gist of this thing now. So, you plot everything out, then you schedule it. Once you know when these actions are going to take place, so this first one here, new webinar, is going to happen January 15th to January to January 30th. Now, we go to our war map here and I want to block out January 15th to January 30th here. So, to do that, I just select these, and I'm going to use this color here. Whoops, not that one. Going to use this color here. All right? Then I'm going to put in the key, "Create new webinar." Boom. So, now it's plotted in here.
Then the next one is February 1st to the 15th, hire an internal media buyer. So, February 1st to 15th, I'm going to use this dark blue color here, change the text to white, and here, it's going to be, "Hire an internal media buyer." All right? So, this is how you use the tool. You think, "What do I want to achieve this year?" Then reverse engineer that goal into actual projects. Then once you've got the projects, score them using this tool, get the priority, schedule them out, then start plotting them in your calendar here.
Now, once you've got the major initiatives plotted in your war map dashboard here from a high level view, the first thing you want to make sure that you get correct is your high level view. You want to make sure that this thing is correct first. Then once you're sure that your high level view looks good, then you drill into the specific month. So, now I'll drill into January. Let's say right now, we're already at the 15th. So, I'm going to block out all of these and I'm going to change this color to this just to show myself that these are gone now.
Then let's say today is the 15th. So, I always like to highlight today's color yellow. Then you want to plot in here the exact action items that you're going to take. So, I know that from the 15th until the 30th, I'm supposed to be building this new webinar. So, here, if I go back to here, I can put here on this date, "New webinar completed." All right? That should be achieved on this specific date. You can change the color of these to whatever you want. But on this date, I'm supposed to have it completed. So, here, I'm going to go, "Start creating new webinar." All right?
Now, I need to think, if I'm going to start this project now and have it finished by this date, what things make up this? Let's say today, I'm going to do research and planning and then I'm going to create slide template and start creating slides. All right? Then the next day, I'm going to be creating slides. Change that color back to black. You can see you just plot out each day. As things change day to day, you can adjust this. You can remove something from here. Let's say I don't get to start creating the slides today. I can remove that from here, put it here.
Then as every new day advances, what I like to do is just highlight it or change the color to gray. Then I just use the strikeout tool here to strike it out. Then the current day I'm on, I like to highlight it yellow. So, every day when I wake up, I just go into my browser and click on the link to go to my calendar and I look at my war map and see what's one the schedule for today and what actions I need to take and how I'm progressing with everything.
This honestly is the tool that keeps my entire life organized, really. I'm sure it's going to be able to do the same for you when you use it correctly. Most people, they just have a moleskin notebook. Actually, let me rewind that a bit. Most people don't do anything. They don't have any goals. Then they don't write anything down and they don't create any plan of attack and they don't reverse engineer anything. That is why most people don't achieve anything. But then the next level up is probably just having some vague goals and then having a moleskin notebook and writing to-do lists day to day. All right?
Then the next level up might be people who create some goals and then use Google Calendar or something and it's vague and all over the place. But if you really want to achieve your goals, if you really want to approach each day, each month, each quarter, and each year as a general commanding an army, then you want to use these tools here. That's why I call them the War Map, the 2018 War Map, because that's how I like to approach each month, each day, and each quarter and each year, like I'm going to war and I have to plan this thing. This plan has to be seriously good.
Some other things to note about this is that you can also put in your objectives for the month. So, we start here by putting our high level objectives for the year. We plot these in using this key. Then you can also put in main objectives for the month. So, I could put here, one, "Build new webinar." Let's say another one is, "Hire a social media manager." Number three is, "Hire an accountant." I'm just making these things up, all right? Number four might be, "Start YouTube channel." You can plot in your main objectives for the month down here and then make sure that you're getting these scheduled in day to day as you move through here.
But the key thing about this tool is that it starts from the high level perspective looking at the whole year. You make sure you get the major things in there. Success is mostly about getting two or three major things done. It's not so much about the small, little, piddly things. It's about getting the big pieces of work, the big projects pushed through and delivered and executed on. So, you want to make sure you plot those big things first. Then you want to make sure that you work how to get those big things done. That's what this dashboard helps you do.
Then day to day and month to month, you have the big things in here, but you can also fit in some smaller trivial things that have to get done. Also, this RICE Project Scoring Tool. I use this tool for only planning big projects. I don't use this for planning my day to day schedule or anything like that because that's just silly to put this much effort and thought and process into just figuring out a small schedule. You use your brain to calculate that one. But when it comes to plotting the big things, I like to be objective and use this tool.
Then as each month progresses, what I like to do is just click on this. Let's say January's done and we're moving into February now. I just go change color and I just click Reset and then I find the new one and I go change color and I make it red. So, that way, the current tab we're in is always highlighted red. That just keeps it easy to use. When we progress through, I like to highlight these gray and strike them out like that so that I know these days have been and these days are coming up, things like that.
So, that's the basics of it. That's the basics of how to use this war map calendar and how I personally use and how you can use it yourself to plan your new year in 2018. So, once again, we've got the war map calendar. The link to that is below in the description on our blog at consulting.com. That's consulting.com. If you're viewing this video on YouTube or anywhere else and you want to know how you can get these downloads, go to consulting.com and find this blog post and you'll be able to get the download links there in the post.
You've got the war map calendar and the RICE Project Scoring Tool. Totally free, really easy to use. All you need is a Google account, like a Gmail account or something. Then to download them, you go File, Make a Copy, and you can save it to your own Google Drive folder. So, that's it for this quick video. Just wanted to show you guys how I do it. I'm not sure if this is going to be helpful for you or not, but if this is helpful for you and you like this tool, awesome. I'm glad I've been able to help you.
Just to give me some feedback, whether this is useful for you or not, just let me know in the comments below. Say, "Hey, this is really useful," or, "Hey, this sucks and I think this thing is totally useless." Just let me know in the feedback, in the comment section so I know whether this is the sort of stuff that you guys want or not because if you do, I've got plenty more where this came from. So, that's it for this video. Thanks for watching and make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel if you're watching it there or check out some of our other posts at consulting.com. Thanks.