Prompts by Bullets: using bulleted lists to plan time

Currently, I'm working on writing up a business plan for Imagine Your Reality, my life coaching business. While I already had an idea of who my target audience is and I want to accomplish with the business, after a long discussion with a good friend (who is also an entrepreneur) I realized that my practice wasn’t as tightly focused as it needed to be. I had taken a shotgun approach to my life coaching, by offering to focus on a variety of areas. My friend pointed out to me that when you take that kind of an approach you don’t really tend to stand out. And standing out was something I wanted to do. Therefore, it was time to sit down and figure out exactly what I wanted my business to go.

It was time to start writing a business plan that could help me organize the material I had already developed into a more cohesive and focused program for building my business. I had come across an excellent template for writing a business plan and decided to use it to help me further flesh out my own plan (See for the template). As I started reading the template, another thought hit me. I realized I needed to integrate my planner into writing the business plan. I grabbed my planner and blocked time in my day to note when and which sections of this template I would fill out. However, I went one step further. I included a series of bullet point prompts to help me get some quick brainstorming ideas down.

It seems like a simple idea but blocking out time this way helped me to focus on what I needed to do and what resources I needed to have ready for when I sat down to do the work on my business plan.

For example, the first section that I needed to write up is the "My Mission" section. This section asks why I am in business, what my big pictures goals are for being in business and what I determine is a successful business. Taking out my planner, I decided to use noon - 1p.m to write it. Then next to that, I added three bullet points. I used each bullet point to briefly answer the questions that the "My Mission" section asked for. By including bullet points in my planner, when I checked to see what I was working on from noon - 1 p.m., not only did I know I was working on that section of the business plan, I also had three mini answers to use as a prompt for fleshing out more detailed answers.

Using my business plan template, I then went through and scheduled times for writing and completing each section. For each section of time I marked off in my planner, I put down bullet points and at least four words per bullet point to be used as prompts to help me when I wrote each section of the business plan out. For example, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. I’m working on the first quarter of the promotion section of the business plan template (It’s the biggest section of the template). I have the following bullet points marked down in my planner with prompts to get me to think how I want to answer the questions in the template:

• Web-ads, articles, radioshow(?), free classes
• Netmeets, teleclass, write, training, website
• Mark up planner w/times
• Website, promocopy, free materials for website
• Sigline w/test, contact, services

This bulleted list is just for the first section of the promotional materials, but it already gives me a lot to work with. When 7:30 hits, and it’s time to start work on that section of the business plan. I can use these prompts to write out some solid ideas, because not only do I have the prompts in my planner, but since I’ve written them down, they’re already gestating in my subconscious. When I view the bullets again, I’ve already spent some thinking about what I want to do and I get to the writing I need to do!

I’ve used this same principle in the past when I had to write research papers in graduate school. By being able to bullet the time I had blocked out, I found it easier to write research papers, because I had prompts available to inspire me and keep me focused in the time I worked. You don't need to just write down prompts. Sometimes, I'd also list several research works I needed to draw information from. This reminded me to have the books or magazines on hand during the time I was writing the research paper. For example, if I was writing an article on finances from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. a bulleted list of references might include the following:

• Hill TGR (Note: I use shorthand for titles)
• Dominguez & Robin YMYL
• Bach SCFR

You can apply this technique to other areas of your life including your creative writing or other artistic projects. On Sunday night, I blocked out two hours for a water color painting I wanted to do. First I noted down what I wanted to do. Then, I put one bullet point down and wrote a few words for the painting's theme: "Thiede, Devotional, Sigil, Wraeththu". These four words provided me a focus for the theme of the painting as well as what I wanted the painting to signify.

Bulleted prompts can also be useful for networking, business, or work meetings. Write down a few words that represent what you want to focus on or achieve at the meetings. For instance, for a networking event I went to on Monday night I had the following bullets:

• Meet 5 new people
• Learn of networking events
• Find out membership fee

The power of using bullets is something that many people don't notice or think to use when planning. Having bulleted prompts in your planner helps you plan your day out while giving you the needed focus to fully use the blocked away time for what you want to achieve. The prompts both organize and inspire your thinking for what you want to accomplish, as well as helping you set goals for that time. Next time you need to schedule an activity, why not try using bulleted prompts to help you stay focused and organized. Write down a list of ideas, goals or references next to that blocked time so that when it comes time to get the work done, you have a good reminder of why you're doing what you're doing, as well as a handy reference list of all the materials you need to get the work done.

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Some great ideas here.

Thanks for the insightful post. Great stuff!

Whether one chooses to use bullets, or any other quick list concept, I think the idea here is a great one. You can use the idea of short 2,3,4 word "notes to self" for anything you put in your planner. Got a meeting with Bob at 4 tomorrow? Drop in a note to take along the Johnson file, that new brochure mock-up and the book you borrowed last week!

Like you said, getting those little idea nuggets down will help you remember them for later, when you have the time to expand upon them, and does indeed let your subconscious peck away while you move on to other things.

Lovin' it!

Thank you

Hi Reese,

Thank you very much. I think it's a really helpful idea. I know it helps me plan out how I can help my clients when I have bullets for their call or meeting which remind of what we've discussed before.


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