In both personal planning and business planning there is value in recognizing trends and managing in light of them. As we step back and look at longer time horizons we see patterns and trends. This may help us see where things are going. If we like the trend we can plan and act to exploit it. If we do not like the trend we can change what we are doing to avoid the trend or we can plow around it.
Abraham Lincoln was once asked how to deal with a difficult obstacle. He compared difficult problems with large stones in farmer’s fields. Farmers often do not have the means to move a really large stone in a field, so they plow around it. Some problems are so large you cannot remove them. Perhaps you can find a way to plow around them instead.
Some negative trends are externally created. You may be able to plan in a manner aligned with these trends, or you may need to try to plow around them. If they are unavoidable however you may need to make changes to accommodate them.
Whether you accommodate a trend or try to avoid it there is a cost. Part of your analysis to determine how to deal with a trend is to measure that cost.
Some trends are internally created. They are the product of what you consistently do or fail to do. When you identify these internal trends you have the power to make changes in what you do to change those trends.
The ubiquitous cell phone is an example of this. It comes from both an external trend and an internal trend. These phones, especially the so called Smart Phones that allow you to stay in touch with friends, family, and your business by phone, IM or email can allow you to communicate more effectively and can also be a major distraction. The distraction is the cost. One needs to weigh that cost against the benefits of having and using the cell phone.
You may find a way to effectively communicate and manage without using a cell phone (plowing around them) or you may elect to take advantage of the positive aspects of using these phones while controlling your use of them to minimize the negative aspects.
Managing Trends by Quarter
Over a period of a quarter (or more) you can see a trend such as cell phone usage and how it affects your productivity, creativity and other aspects of your work. Once you make this evaluation you can control your use of this technology to serve your needs best.
For a business a trend may be a steady change in the cost of materials or the price at which your product sells. It requires at least a quarter of a year to identify such trends in a meaningful way. This allows you to then make changes in what you are doing or how you are doing it to address these trends.
If you plan only for the day, week or month you remain too close to the changes to see the trends. This is why looking at the quarter is an effective way to manage trends and capture a larger picture of where you have been and where you are going.
Learn more about Effective Time Management from my free series at Effective Time Management Lessons
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Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.