Ideas and Inspiration For Annual Planning with Melina Palmer

Have you started planning your goals for the year ahead yet? Or do you have a long list of things you’re just hoping to get around to, without any clear roadmap for achieving them?

On this episode of the podcast, Melina Palmer and I are exchanging some ideas and inspiration to incorporate into your annual planning for 2022. Think of it as your ultimate CEO Day, a valuable concept where you dedicate time and space to those big picture goals that will move your business forward—but which we usually relegate to the “non-urgent” task list. This conversation will help you to determine what’s really important and make practical steps toward scheduling, planning, and prioritizing success.

Melina is an applied behavioral economist who helps us understand how the brain actually works instead of how we think it should. So we’re really talking about some of those brain biases and how to overcome them…because we all fall victim to mistakes in planning. Because we all have a brain.

When it comes to productivity, eight hours is never eight hours and 90 days is never 90 days. Listen in to find out what we mean! And join me for the What’s On Your Plate workshop on January 7 if you want to maximize the first 90 days of 2022 to be as productive as possible toward your one big business goal.

About Melina Palmer:

Melina Palmer is founder and CEO of The Brainy Business, which provides behavioral economics consulting to businesses of all sizes from around the world. Her podcast, The Brainy Business: Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy, has downloads in over 170 countries and is used as a resource for teaching applied behavioral economics for many universities and businesses. Melina obtained her bachelor’s degree in business administration: marketing and worked in corporate marketing and brand strategy for over a decade before earning her master’s in behavioral economics.

A proud member of the Global Association of Applied Behavioral Scientists, Melina has contributed research to the Association for Consumer Research, Filene Research Institute, and writes the Behavioral Economics & Business column for Inc. Magazine. She teaches applied behavioral economics through the Texas A&M Human Behavior Lab and her first book, What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You, was published in May 2021.

Links and Resources:

Time Stamps:

[2:52] What Melina does as an applied behavioral economist
[4:34] Annual planning as a multi-day, multi-faceted process
[6:25] Clear multiple types of clutter out of your way first
[7:06] Narrow down your big goals to three things only
[7:57] Shiny objects may be desirable but they’re distractions to achieving your top three goals
[10:15] Amber’s quarterly workshop is like Melina’s 90 day sprint
[12:00] Take steps and build credibility toward your five-year goal today in your planning
[15:32] What’s the one thing you would be happy to achieve by this time next year?
[16:25] Make your to-do list smaller to avoid optimism bias
[20:53] Pre-plan your goals in a “cold state”
[21:20] 90 days is not really 90 days of productivity
[24:40] When planning your schedule, start with the big rocks
[26:40] ADHD-ers need filters and lenses to make decisions about what to pursue
[27:47] What is planning fallacy and how to counteract it
[30:52] Emotional clutter can be urgent, unimportant things that take up time
[35:20] Melina’s top advice for planning out the next year

Amber Hawley 0:01
Business owners are increasingly being pulled in so many directions, feeling like they aren’t reaching their full potential in business and life despite their type A ways. With my background as a therapist, entrepreneur, and as a dotcom dropout with ADHD, I interview and coach high-achieving business owners like you who want to stop struggling for success by using psychological systems, strategies, and the occasional carefrontation. This is the easily distracted entrepreneur, your place to slay overwhelmed perfectionism and shiny object syndrome so that you can get done what matters most to you.

Amber Hawley 0:03
Hello, hello. Well today I have a super special treat. I have one of my favorite people in the world on with me. She agreed to make my life easier because I was doing that classic thing that a lot of us ADHD people do, which is make something really difficult that actually you like doing and isn’t that hard. And then you realize, let me figure out a different way to do this to make it easier on myself. So I sweet talked my friend Melina Palmer into coming on today.

Amber Hawley 0:38
And we are going to be talking about kind of year end planning or planning for the next year slash the ultimate CEO day is what lately I’ve been kind of talking about it as. And even though I teach a workshop on this, I talk about this all the time, for some reason, recording a solo episode was just not happening. So I love talking to people and especially you Melina so thank you for coming on and saving the day.

Melina Palmer 1:05
Of course, anytime. You know I love you.

Amber Hawley 1:09
And if I if you’ve been a longtime listener, Melina has been on the podcast before and we will link to her episode in the show notes. And I’m sure she’s gonna be back because she has all kinds of exciting things happening and launching and, and publishing in the future.

Melina Palmer 1:28
Wink wink.

Amber Hawley 1:29
Wink wink hint hint. But today we’re gonna be talking about like I said, the CEO planning day. But before we do, just so people know that you actually have some cred when it comes to talking about this stuff. Can you share a little bit about yourself?

Melina Palmer 1:44
Sure. There’s nothing better than having your own cred like bragging on yourself, right?

Amber Hawley 1:52
This is totes my authority, people.

Melina Palmer 1:56
Let me tell you why I’m amazing. Okay, so my name is Melina Palmer. I am an applied behavioral economist. This is why we can’t get together because I am totally losing my official sounding-ness.

Amber Hawley 2:11
I actually love it. Let’s be our totes and amazeball selves.

Melina Palmer 2:14
All right, sounds good. So I’m an applied behavioral economist, I help people to understand how the brain actually works instead of how we think it should. I use that in consulting to people in business and doing speaking engagements. I have a podcast called The Brainy Business, I teach applied behavioral economics at Texas A&M University, and have written a book with others to come. I also have a column with Inc. Magazine, sharing about these insights in the brain, and making it fun and not sounding like a boring lecture, just giving you the stuff you need, and not all the extra junk.

Amber Hawley 2:53
See, um, I feel like that is a lot of credibility, I don’t know. I don’t know, there’s a few things as if it’s as if others see your credibility as well. And collaborate with you, you would say?

Melina Palmer 3:08

Amber Hawley 3:08
Um, but I think that’s my favorite part about you. Not only are you wicked smart, and know all the things, but you are a real person who is funny as hell. And that’s, that’s the reason we connected so much. Because you could come upon one of our conversations and assume maybe we aren’t as amazing as we think we are. But we are. So, yes. And now we’re gonna have to jump right into this because as Melina says, it’s hard for us to get together, we spent 20 minutes going back and forth about which TV shows are really important for each other to watch. And now we have to rush this episode. So but this is good. This means that we’re going to be succinct and give you some nuggets for the day.

Amber Hawley 3:59
But this is something in all seriousness, doing kind of annual planning, I think, I think most people do some version of it. Right? And I know there are some people that don’t, they’re just fly by the seat of their pants kind of gals, but but it’s something that I’ve been doing for years and and as I you know, do workshops or trainings or learn things or any kind of, you know, when I read books, I find like I would take things that really resonated with me and kind of incorporate it into my planning process, or looking at you know, I say, like, it’s kind of like the ultimate CEO day.

Amber Hawley 4:37
Although it really does take more than one day because there’s like that strategic planning part but then there’s kind of that that mind wandering, dreaming, contemplating, reflective part as well. So for me, it’s kind of a multi day process, but I know you’re somebody who, you know, does this as well and you know, sets and achieves big goals. So maybe could you share just a little bit about what is the process that you approach? Or, you know, what is one part because I’m sure there’s more than one, in how you approach looking at planning for the next year.

Melina Palmer 5:14
Yeah. So I used to be one of those people that before I really understood what was going on in the brain, and the things that kind of get in our way, where I was one of the many that would say, I don’t set new year’s resolutions, because, like, I try to do goals all year round, and I’m not going to tie myself into something, I’m just like, doing good stuff all year. And it was more because I didn’t stick to resolutions just like everybody else, because you get, you don’t approach it properly. And because we don’t know how our brains are working. And when you do, you can be a lot better at goal setting and achieving those goals.

Melina Palmer 5:53
So when I, I do teach a class on this at Texas A&M, like we had talked about, and mine’s just a three week class that I do every year. And on this being, you know, first piece being clearing clutter out of your brain, which I know talked about quite a lot. There’s a lot of gunk in there. And there are multiple types of clutter. So there’s the, you know, actual physical stuff that’s around on your desk and things like that. We also have emotional clutter, we have technological clutter of emails and things like that. And so you have to get those out of the way.

Melina Palmer 6:35
And first is, you know, coming up with your big goals. And knowing that you have to narrow them down to no more than three things. And that is not like three business and three personal and three help and three, but a total of three, and then prioritizing them to know what comes first. And these are, when I say big goals, you know, it’s not even like writing a book. Writing my first book wasn’t one of my big goals, it was, you know, being a thought leader in behavioral economics is one of my big goals. And there are tactics I do to say, you know, in 2021, it was my book was going to be coming out, which means in 2020, I had to write it, which means getting a publisher before that, and doing the podcast, and these things are tactics underneath. But again, you can’t have too many things, you have to dream big enough to know what you want, and then identify the things that are going to be a big distraction for you. And get those to where you know, these are.

Melina Palmer 7:39
So I heard that Warren Buffett is now saying he didn’t actually say this, that he’s been you know, accredited with over time. But it was like this, make a list of the top 10 or 15 things that you want to do in your life. And then you pick three and know that items four through 15 become your avoid at all costs list. Those are the things that are going to be a big distraction for you. Because you want to be a YouTube star or you want to like, build up, if you know, write articles for something. But if you’ve decided that the podcast is a top thing you need to be doing or whatever it is, getting a degree or something. And then these other things pop up and you haven’t identified that you can’t do them. They’re the most likely things to distract you from the thing you should be working on right now. Because you have an interest in them. And they’re really cool.

Amber Hawley 8:33
Mm hmm.

Melina Palmer 8:34
But they’re too distracting.

Amber Hawley 8:35
Oh, my gosh, and I have I have seen that in action with so many people when I’m working with somebody, especially when I work with people in my membership, where it’s that kind of thing where it’s those shiny objects are so desirable, and they’re all valid, like they all lead to, you know, they’re all valid paths or goals or things. But those are the ones where I think people waver especially when, like maybe the thing they’re working on isn’t going as planned, or they’re not getting the momentum they were hoping for. Then it’s like, oh, let me just add this thing in. Right. And I I actually don’t think I had heard that quote, or maybe I did and forgot. But I think that makes a lot of sense that those are going to be the things that we should be most thoughtful about.

Amber Hawley 9:22
Because I have my I do kind of a similar thing where it’s, I look at like big picture and then you bring it down narrow, narrow, narrow to the minutiae of it. And my workshops, my quarterly workshops are called Your One Thing because I’m really trying to get people to just pick that one thing. But you know, like you said at three at most, I think is, you know, the most that anybody should have on their plate at any time. But the reality is like we we plan so we create the vision for the year we’re looking at the whole year, but we only create the plan and the goals for one quarter at a time.

Amber Hawley 9:58
Yeah, because it’s too much to be looking at that bigger picture, and there have even been times like in my own, you know, as I experiment with like what works for me and not, it’s like sometimes I found like doing like two week sprints can be super helpful, because I am one of those people that can be really distracted or historically I’ve been very distracted by shiny objects. So I’m like, if I can keep it into this intense like two week sprint, it allows my brain like no opportunity to look at all that other stuff. Right?

Melina Palmer 10:30
Totally. Well, you and I definitely, I know this is why you asked me to come talk about this because we take a very similar approach. So I do, I call it a 90 day sprint, which is that same kind of quarterly thing. And as I said, the, the big goal is something as you’re deciding what that is, I don’t, so there’s a mix of not getting totally like head down stuck in the like, well, I didn’t meet my goals this year and like, what’s next year gonna be. And far too often when I talk with people in small businesses or entrepreneurs, is you have this idea of, well, once I make enough money doing this thing that I kind of hate, I can invest in what I really want to do, right, five years from now, then I’ll look at what I actually care about. But I have to tolerate this now. You go–

Amber Hawley 11:21

Melina Palmer 11:22
Well, that sucks. Like, let’s not.

Amber Hawley 11:26
I hear that’s where abundance comes from. Doing things that suck and you resent.

Melina Palmer 11:33
And so but even if you like, I can appreciate that not everyone has a luxury of being able to do whatever they want from the beginning, right, there is some some version of having to do something that pays the bills upfront. But if you don’t sit down and say, you know, five years from now, I want to be doing X, Y, or Z, if you want your entire business to be something else, you need to be doing something to work toward that, today, to help make that to where it will be profitable so it’s not always, you know, five years out, which is what can very much happen. I did work with a photographer years and years and years ago. And I remember we were doing one of these long days, going through all of her stuff. And she was planning, you know, built this whole plan around corporate headshot type photography, because that paid enough in what she was wanting to do.

Melina Palmer 12:27
And then at the very end, you know, you know, six hours into our eight hour day that she had said, you know, and like so at some point, like, I would love to be doing landscape photography, and this, that and the other as like to make money and have stuff in art shows and things. It’s like um, it’s like not in the plan at all. Like, you know, you got to do some corporate headshots, but like 10% do something this year so you know, five years from now you’re building credibility for it. And, you know, within five years, she has shifted almost her entire business to be on that side. But it was because of that, looking forward enough into what you want, incorporate some of that into today, you can have that be a goal of the world you want, to have some inspiration, even if you know, you still have to answer emails and do things, even if you’re able to then focus on those big dreams and do a little bit toward them every day.

Amber Hawley 13:28
Yeah. 1,000%. And it’s like laying those tracks, right, like laying, like planting those seeds for what you’re looking for. And you know that I say that, you know, sarcastic comment, but the reality is that that was me for a very long time of–

Melina Palmer 13:43
All of us.

Amber Hawley 13:44
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I’m sure a lot of us, of saying, Well, I am the primary breadwinner, I have to earn money. And I have this business that I love, and I’m good at and I love my clients. But it wasn’t like my ultimate dream and passion. Right. And that was my group therapy practice. And I love I love providing therapy, and I loved the clients I worked with. So it wasn’t like total drudgery. But forever I kept saying I want this online business. And I want to do this thing where and now it’s turned into what I’m doing now what you’re listening to, and but forever, it was not, it was more like, Yeah, this is what I will do as soon as I get to this place. But I had to start doing little bits here and there and kind of like planting those seeds. Because I knew that, one, it gave me something to look forward to. And two, it was it would have, I didn’t really have the luxury of being able to say, Okay, I’m taking off the next year and I’m just going to work 100% on this new business, right, like I I needed to transition.

Amber Hawley 14:49
And so every transition I’ve made in my business, even ones that I think are smaller but significant, like when I finally got to a place of saying I’m no longer going to be working weekends, you know, in my therapy business and I was transitioning, that was a six month plan to get there. I couldn’t just cold turkey do that for I mean, there’s many reasons, right? But it’s but you do have to create, you have to look at the bigger picture, like you’re saying farther out. And then you also have to come back and say, okay, look, what are the logistics and kind of work backwards like, how do I get there? Right?

Melina Palmer 15:21
Yeah, so if this is my ultimate goal, and I want to be there, five, ten years from now, whatever that is, then what are the three most important things or four that I can do this year, if I only do you know, that’s where I’ll ask people all the time, if you only do one thing, if you only do one thing next year, if you, you know, wake up, it’s this time next year, it’s December of 2022. And you wake up and say, Man, I did it, I achieved this one thing that helped me do, get on the path of what I want. What is that thing? And what do you need to do now to make sure that you’re able to do that.

Melina Palmer 16:03
And similarly, I have a one thing a day rule, you know, so you set your quarterly goal. And so I need to, like this quarter for me is writing the next book and working on that process. And so that means, like, how many chapters do I need to write in various days? I have a very short timeline that I’m having to get this done. What research, do I need to do interviews, you thinking through all of those steps and saying, Today, I’m doing this, and then tomorrow, I’m doing this. We really love, because we have an optimism bias, because of planning fallacy, because of bikeshedding, lots of things, we tend to, it feels really good to have 10 or 20 things on your to do list, it feels like you’re really being productive, right?

Amber Hawley 16:49
I’m a superstar.

Melina Palmer 16:50
Yeah, look at all these things. And then you do two of them and you feel like garbage at the end of the day. Because and then you have to roll the eight things over into tomorrow. But because you got those two things done today, tomorrow’s gonna be better. And I can get 18 things done.

Amber Hawley 17:06
Yeah tomorrow I’ll have the energy, because I took it kind of easy today.

Melina Palmer 17:09
Yeah. And that never happened. Whereas if you, it feels really hard, counterintuitive, demoralizing to have just one thing on your to do list. It feels bad for, you know, because of a bunch of stuff in our brains. But if you truly just have one thing, and then you got two things done, be like, feel like a superhero, right?

Amber Hawley 17:38

Melina Palmer 17:38
Like, I’m amazing, I did all this, it becomes a virtuous cycle instead of a vicious one. And if you can narrow down to the one thing that you need to be doing, then it’s harder to have an excuse to not get those things done and check those boxes.

Amber Hawley 17:55
Exactly. And just a, I guess it’ll be a couple of weeks ago, I had released an episode on productive procrastination, it kind of talks about the same concept. And there’s that behavioral momentum that we get where we, if we allow ourselves the opportunity to just fix, you know, pick one thing, and I always say three at the most, you know, like, if they’re smaller, right, like looking at your day too, right, like what’s on your plate for the day. But picking that one thing, we actually create such a positive energy flow that it kind of builds on itself, where like you said, we’re, when we don’t do that and we just overload ourselves, then we just we come from this place of feeling like crap, and it just it totally demoralizes us. So it’s super important to do.

Amber Hawley 18:40
But I think it’s really hard for people too because, you know, that process of prioritizing and discerning down to one thing takes effort. And so you do have, it takes some effort, but it’s 100 million times worth it. So, you know, now you’ve just heard it from two people who swear who swear by it, and you’re still gonna mess up like I, I still did this. I was hosting one of my co working sessions on Friday, and it was a, every once in awhile I’ll do like an all day one. Usually, we do two two-hour once a month in my membership, and then every once in awhile I’ll do an all day. And so I teach this, I know this, I live by this because I, I 100% know it. But I have, you know, I had a rough, like October feels like it didn’t even exist because I got sick right before October. Then I went to a conference, which was fabulous. And then I got COVID. So I was like forever until the November just like same thing. So I was like I felt this need to catch up. And I was like I know better.

Amber Hawley 18:40
But I literally wrote out the list and said, these are 15 minute tasks at the most, and some of them would take like four minutes and at the most it would be 15, I was really trying not to like, you know, say this will be five minutes and then they really it took like 20. And then I had a couple of bigger ones and so, I know better. And I still said, and I was like, here’s for accountability, I put my list up. And then I almost immediately regretted it. And so usually when we check in, I’m usually like, Okay, I, you know, I did this, like everyone else checks in, and I’ll share mine. And it was like, Okay, I’m gonna use the next little bit to reprioritize and actually decide what the hell I’m doing today because clearly what the F! So I know that you’re a human being, and you’re going to still feel pulled to do it. But but when you realize like that, it’s not gonna work. It’s just not gonna work.

Melina Palmer 20:32
Right? And that’s yeah, if you pre plan, when you’re in what we would call a cold state, to say, what are the top things I have to do this, in this quarter, in this 90 day sprint, as I would talk about it, or in that one quarterly goal, like Amber says, you know, that you sit down and you say, Okay, what are the, What are all the things that I have to do? What working days do I have to get them done? And that’s like, one of those things, too.

Melina Palmer 21:00
The reason I talk about it as a 90 day sprint, one of the things I have people do, and I know you’ve been through this with me before, is I will say, okay, so it’s 90 days and pick what your actual date is, right. So maybe you have something that has to be sent by an event or you know, so it’s the end of the quarter. So this is by the end of March, but you know, there’s an actual thing that’s happening on March 28, or April 3, or whatever you pick, whatever that day is. And then 90 days is not really 90 days, because for most people, we’re not planning on working seven days a week, all the time forever. And if you are planning on that, unplan that because it’s not gonna work out, you know, you just schedule this in–

Amber Hawley 21:45

Melina Palmer 21:44
Right. And so and then you look and you’re like well, and I’m doing an all day presentation that day and back, you know, assuming we’re going to be traveling again, like I’m going to be out for these three days. And then I’ve got this. And when you go through an on average, when you look at your 90 days, typically, there’s somewhere between 35 and 65, of what people have of actual working days to get things done. And if you’re only doing one thing a day to get to that goal, very quickly, when you make your list of all the tasks, say you wanted to create a new drip campaign or something, right, a new lead magnet and drip campaign. And so it’s, identify what’s going to go in it, create the outline, draft out the first one, go back and edit it, edit it again, do some more research, create the first email, send it to someone to review, edit the email, determine what system you’re going to be sending it to, create the actual nice looking version of it or hire someone to help you with that, research who’s going to help you to hire that, dat dat da da da, like, very quickly, you’re getting through 30 to 60 tasks. And then if you set them out, like, your quarter is gone. And it feels like it’s not a lot to do in a quarter. But it really is. And when you can set those priorities, then it makes it to where if you set those in the cold state and determine you know, this easy task is going to be on the day that I have to be traveling, so I can just send one email while I’m at the airport. Like I know I can do that.

Amber Hawley 23:14
Exactly, exactly.

Melina Palmer 23:16
Yeah. But I’m not going to plan to do my strategic planning four-hour session when I’m also leading a webinar for three hours that day. That’s bad, bad planning.

Amber Hawley 23:30
Yes. And that’s yeah, there’s so much about that. One is I do think it’s very eye opening. That’s why I love having everything be in black and white, right, like looking at, oh, yeah, I’ve only actually got, yeah, 30, 40, 50 days out of this 90 day period. Because that’s where, like if you’re a service based provider, and you’re actually doing one on one work, like for me, I know like Tuesdays and Thursdays are all client days, like, those are days where if at the most I can expect myself to send an email, but there’s not going to be like a big task happening on those days. And so like you said, take out Saturday, Sunday for me, take out Tuesday, Thursday, that leaves me three days, well actually two cuz I’m trying to take off Fridays. Like that’s the that’s the big goal. And so it’s it is very eye opening when you look at it like that.

Amber Hawley 24:18
And that’s part of like, so part of my process is also this, well one, it’s like understanding your schedule, and like really figuring that out, then it’s, you know, looking at what’s what are your commitments, because that’s the other piece like, do you have all these other commitments? And I think I like scheduling out all of my potential vacation for the year. Because, you know, my goal is to do six weeks. And and of course, it could always shift, right, like things can always shift but if I have it out there and I’m like, Okay, I’m taking two weeks in December, two weeks in July, I want one week in the first quarter and one week in the third quarter. Like it gives you like that space because like you said, what if you’re like hey, I’m going to, I don’t know, do all this work and then it turns out Oh, but I’m actually on vacation for the next week. Do you then feel the pressure to do that work while you’re on vacation? Does it impact your ability to actually have that downtime?

Melina Palmer 25:12
Yeah, yeah. I am definitely not the person that came up with this terminology, but that’s, you know, starting with your big rocks, and putting those on the calendar first. And then you know, you do the little bit smaller, and you know, work your way back, to be able to set that up.

Amber Hawley 25:29
I think that’s Franklin Covey, right, because I, this is the thing we’re after, like I said, all these years of, I think this was man probably like, maybe like 20 years ago, when I was working at Imagine Media. And they brought in a Franklin Covey trainer to like, train everybody. And that stuff, again, the first things first prioritization, all of that stuff. I mean, it’s tried and true. I feel like he’s the big rock guy. But I could be wrong.

Melina Palmer 25:56
It could very well could be, I’d have to go back and read Seven Habits.

Amber Hawley 26:01
Yeah, exactly. And that’s the thing, none of, a lot of this, you’ve probably heard about it or, you know, seen trainings, a lot of us talk about the same stuff. But I think it’s about figuring out like, what works for you, experimenting with it, trying it, and kind of, you know, iterating to kind of figure out, like, what sets you up best. So, again, part of my process, like I do the word of the year, like that’s something I like, because it creates, anything for me that creates kind of a filter or a lens so that I can focus because I’m, I’m an easily distracted entrepreneur, right? I’m an ADHD-er with ENFP, which I just think makes me a professional squirrel chaser. So I need those things. I like those lenses that help me kind of filter and make decisions about what is going to be on my plate, what’s going to be my commitment, what is going to be the goals that I’m working towards.

Amber Hawley 26:56
And so I like the word of the year, like you’re saying, looking at putting all the stuff that is important, like vacations or major events, or, you know, big, maybe big things that you’re doing in your business, right? Like, if you’re hosting an event, like you said, or attending live events, or speaking at a conference or something. Like putting all of that on your calendar, because then it helps you determine. Do you have any of those kinds of things that you do, in addition to what we’ve talked about?

Melina Palmer 27:27
Yeah, so I have a whole episode on planning fallacy. And I also have one on bikeshedding, which I had mentioned earlier.

Amber Hawley 27:35
Which is a fantastic episode, because

Melina Palmer 27:36
Thank you.

Amber Hawley 27:37
That’s the productive procrastination stuff where you’re like, Oh, it can feel so good. But it’s not.

Melina Palmer 27:43
Right. Well, and so the thing with, you know, planning fallacy is the, you have to expect that there are going to be interruptions, our brains are wired to think, you know, tomorrow, I’m going to have all the time in the world and there will be no interruptions and I have eight hours to sit and write or plan or whatever it is that you’re going to be doing. And eight hours is never eight hours. For one, you need to be planning for breaks and to plan for interruptions and plan to go eat food and plan for, you know, if you have kids around, they’re gonna come in and ask you for something or some random emails gonna come in and throw you off. And so if you say, I’ve got like an hour for random crap, that’s going to happen, the email from a client that I have to deal with, whatever, every hour, I have to take, I get a 10 minute break, where I get to go check Instagram, or whatever it is that my brain is wanting to be distracted on. And I planned in this much time for snacks.

Melina Palmer 28:40
You know, your eight hour day becomes five hours of productive time, instead of just like swirling around. And that, you know, you waste so much more time when you don’t plan for things to take longer than they do. And whatever you think something’s going to take and you, you know, it’s always, you know, I know that last time, this, episodes usually take me eight hours, but I bet this time, I’m going to do it in five, like, don’t don’t do that. You know, just catch yourself when you do it. We all do that naturally. But if you stop and say mmm, but what if it didn’t? Right? What if I was to, if I just give myself all the time that I might need? And give it a 10% extra just in case.

Amber Hawley 29:27
Yes. Yes.

Melina Palmer 29:29
Better to have extra time. And then if it, you know, doesn’t happen, I can go, you know, get things done otherwise.

Amber Hawley 29:34
Exactly. That that could be your bonus time that that you get where and so yeah, it’s two parts. One is in the time planning but the other one is in not overwhelming yourself with stuff. Kind of like my example of, I knew Oh, this task will take five to 10 minutes, so I added extra time. That was good. Then I had, I mean, I have the list written here somewhere. I was like, if I if I, but then it was like too many and you, yeah, I know better. But I still felt this pressure. And it was almost like I wasn’t ready to focus yet. So I think that’s where, and I’m a believer too, of choosing ahead of time because it’s kind of like meal planning. If I wait until I feel like, okay, now I’m in the mode, I’m in the day, what do I feel like doing? I’m not going to choose the best, most effective things. I’m going to take the things that sound fun, or easy. Or, you know, I know I will just eat pizza and burgers all the time. And, there will never be a salad in there.

Melina Palmer 30:34
Yeah, I’m a big big fan as you’re looking to reduce the emotional clutter that is your to do list, right? There’s a lot of stuff that’s on there that’s maybe been like carrying over to the next page of to do list for like six months or more. At some point, you have to say, Do I really need to do this? Like, is this actually important for one, and then look at the urgent versus important scale, and how many things are on your list that are urgent or not urgent, but unimportant. Like urgent, unimportant things take up so much time.

Melina Palmer 31:14
And once you’ve prioritized to where you know that this thing isn’t important to you, you can then say, Is this actually important? Yes, that it’s due tomorrow to apply for this random award thing or whatever that just came into my inbox like, oh, my gosh, if I won, that, it would be amazing. I’m going to spend four hours today, putting together an award from something that’s totally unrelated to the goal, because it feels bright and shiny. But if you say, yeah, yes, the deadline is today. And I’ll consider this next year, if it’s actually important for me, right? It’s not on my priority list. I can’t do that now. Or once I get my actual task that I set aside for today done, then I could apply for this if there’s time. And I still want to, but it’s not allowed to distract you from the other thing, just because it’s urgent, doesn’t mean it’s important for you today, right now.

Amber Hawley 32:03
Exactly. And that one, I think, is a trap that we fall into a lot. That I mean, that’s a perfect example for like the award. And I, excuse me, sorry, my voice is cracking, of course. So I’m gonna start. I noticed that lately, that’s been coming up, because we’re in December, right, this time where there’s all this extra stuff, all this invisible labor stuff that a lot of women have on their plate. And I’ve noticed that I’m feeling that feeling of like, oh, but all of a sudden I realize my son has like grown out of his shoes, and didn’t tell me until like, well, I’m always like, do your feet hurt? And then I see a hole at the end or something. Because they’ll never just like, tell me when I asked him.

Amber Hawley 32:51
And so then all of a sudden, it was like, well, now I have to go and take him and go shoe shopping and do this thing. But that wasn’t on my plate. It is, it is like an urgent kind of thing. But it’s also one of those things where I will feel this pressure to like, leave the business stuff and like, Oh, I’ll get to that later. Like, I’ll do that. And but I need to go do this now because of logistics or something. And so sometimes I get into that pressured state, so I have to kind of like, step back, and then like, realistically look at it, because it would be so much well, frankly, it’s just more fun. I’d rather go shopping then have to do the, look at my finances or go shopping? I don’t know.

Melina Palmer 33:31
Script a solo episode or, yeah, go shopping.

Amber Hawley 33:34
Exactly. I’m pretty sure that’s actually what happened. And then figuring out okay, like, like, are there ways that I can talk myself off the ledge? Like you said, like, Okay, I will do my thing first, if there’s time I can do this. Or I can say, let the pressure off myself and say, oh, okay, next year, I’ll I’ll look at that. And so even something as small as like my son’s shoes, I was able to like, Okay, let’s go look at your closet and realize, oh, you actually still have two pairs that fit? And well, actually one that was probably weather appropriate. And I’m like, okay, so you’re actually going to be fine for a couple more days. I mean, you know, he’s a nine year old boy, like, he doesn’t have to change his shoes every day. So I’m like, okay, I can give myself a couple extra and actually plan this, which is usually how I like to do it. But I don’t know, all of a sudden, he just had some crazy growth spurts.

Melina Palmer 34:28
Like kids do.

Amber Hawley 34:29
I know. I’m like, why do they do that at really inopportune times? I was like, Don’t you know that I do this stuff in August and January, like who are you people? But it can be those kinds of things that maybe don’t look as obvious as an opportunity, a new opportunity where it is something that, okay, this actually needs to get done. But it doesn’t have to take over, it, and sometimes we can’t, you know that everything kind of works towards encouraging us to do that. Sorry, I just realized the time. Okay. Oh, dang it. Okay, well, let me let’s do a quick wrap up. Well, I know that we said we had to do a super fast episode because we love TV. But if, I mean these are some of the ideas around thinking about how you plan out your year and kind of creating the ultimate CEO day for yourself, is there one last thing that you would love to leave the listeners with that you think is really helpful in kind of planning out their next year?

Melina Palmer 35:32
Yeah, to get out of your own way, for one, and like you were saying, I think there are really two sides to this. There is the, you know, going for a walk or journaling, or going and staying at an Airbnb by yourself, or whatever it is that you need to get out of your regular routine to do that big dreaming type of stuff. And then you need a separate occasion to be getting the tasks down. But give yourself enough room to think about what you want what that looks like, if you do vision boards or choosing your word of the year, but just really reflecting and having some time with yourself in one sitting. And then separately, as you have figured out what those top tasks are, to do the, like, make the list, prioritize the days, do that sort of stuff. But give each one enough breathing room so that you can be thoughtful with each.

Amber Hawley 36:23
Awesome. Thank you so much, Melina, for coming on and sharing all your wisdom. And if you want to find out more information about Melina where can they go?

Melina Palmer 36:34
As always, you can go to That has the p,odcast and my book. And you can also find me on the socials as The Brainy Biz, B-I-Z.

Amber Hawley 36:45
Wonderful. Thanks again, Melina.

Melina Palmer 36:47
Thank you.

Transcribed by

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