Strategic Thinking

strategic planning, goal setting

Your Complete Guide to Strategic Task Lists

strategic planning, goal setting

Your Complete Guide To Strategic Task Lists

TASK Virtual Assistant

Here’s the honest truth for entrepreneurs - your task list will NEVER be complete. There will always be more to do! So how can you manage everything without tasks or projects slipping through the cracks? Use strategic task lists.

Why You Should Use a Strategic Task List

A strategic task list is a list of tasks that can help you achieve your goals. It is a tool that can help you stay organized and focused on what you need to accomplish. It can be used for a variety of purposes and is one of the strongest time-management tools you can have in your arsenal.

Strategic Planning:

Use the list to organize your thoughts and plan out your agenda for the day or week with each item representing an action or project you want to complete.

Goal Setting:

The tasks on the list are those things that support your goals, making it easier to remember what needs to be accomplished in order to reach them.

Resource Management:

This type of task list is often used by people who need reminders about what’s happening at work so they know which meetings they need to attend, identify gaps, and maximize capacity.

Change Your Strategy by Having a Strategic Task List

If you have a task list, you are more likely to complete it within time limits which will lead you to accomplish your goals faster.

With a written strategic task list, you are less likely to be derailed or distracted by small tasks that may not seem urgent but actually are urgent. Being able to identify what needs immediate attention is important for an organization’s success.

When there is clarity about what needs to be accomplished time gaps are eliminated and you achieve maximum productivity levels.

Create the Perfect Strategic Task List

Creating the perfect strategic task is easier than you might think. Following these simple steps will ensure that your task list is effective:

First, do a brain dump! Using a pen and paper, set a timer for 15 minutes. Write down EVERYTHING that you need to do - business and personal. Do not assign deadlines, edit or prioritize yet. When the timer goes off, try to go for another 5 minutes.

Next, prioritize the tasks using the time management matrix:

Urgent + Important: Must do tasks with a clear deadline such as paying taxes, paying bills, completing work on a deadline. If this isn’t done - there is a clear consequence!

Urgent + NOT Important: Time-sensitive tasks that should get done such as replying to your emails, client communication, working with your team. This is an excellent area to automate and systemize.

NOT Urgent + NOT Important: These are tricky tasks because these are the ‘should do’ tasks we say yes to without determining if they really help us reach our goals. Learn to say NO to these tasks. Outsource to another to handle this area.

NOT Urgent + IMPORTANT: This is where you want to play! Focus your time and energy on important revenue-generating tasks such as marketing, sales, or developing new revenue streams.
Many of the tasks should be based on your goals. I find it helpful to keep a printed copy of my goals on my desk, usually in my day planner, for quick reference.

Finally, check your daily task list at night and prioritize the remaining tasks based on what you should be working on first. Create a fresh list every morning pulling forward the unfinished tasks from the day before.

It is important for any organization to have a strategic task list. Whether your company has 1 employee or 100 employees, using strategic lists will help them understand the steps needed to reach the end goal and thus, provide stability and consistency in your strategy.

It is important for any organization to have a strategic task list. Whether your company has 1 employee or 100 employees, using strategic lists will help them understand the steps needed to reach the end goal and thus, provide stability and consistency in your strategy.

To help you get started with your strategic goal planning, grab this FREE Goal Planner:

smart goals

Are You Realistic About Your Goals?

smart goals

Are Your Realistic About Your Goals?

TASK Virtual Assistant

People often struggle in both life and business with the process of goal-setting—more than likely, you’ve read a lot about creating SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. SMART goals give direction and focus to your efforts. If your goal is without focus, or if you are unable to tell if it's working, odds are you'll be wasting time.

Let's Be Clear

If there’s one thing that keeps people stuck, it’s a lack of clarity.

You know you want to quit your soul-sucking day job in favor of the freedom of self-employment, but you aren’t clear on the steps to take. You want to take an exotic vacation, but you aren’t sure where to go—or how to make it happen. You want to grow your business but aren’t even sure what that means.

The truth is, with ambiguous “goals” such as these, in five or ten years, you’ll still be right where you’re at today. But with a little clarity, you can achieve any goal you can conceive. The first step is simple, visualize what you want.

Start With A Vision

A vision board is a planning tool that allows you to unleash your creativity and daydream in a tangible format. Vision boards can serve to keep you inspired when boredom strikes and remind you of why you’re working so hard when all you want to do is take a nap. Best of all, creating a vision board is easy—and fun!

Start by collecting images that represent your biggest goals. Gather pictures from magazines, photos from a favorite vacation, ads of products you want to have. I had a postcard from the New Yorker hotel I used to keep pinned on a board above my desk. I looked at it every day and knew I would be there one day. Four months later, I accepted a position at a start-up company in New York City!

Use images, graphics, photos that express what you want. Dollar signs, or a specific figure, to represent your desired bank account balance. Phrases and quotes that inspire you. Add it all to your new vision board.

Your vision board is a living document. Your dreams and goals will change. Some you will achieve and remove from your board to make room for bigger and better dreams. Some you will decide no longer matter, and you’ll trade them for some others. It’s your vision, and it’s entirely up to you what dreams you choose to follow.

Keep your vision board within sight; you’ll be better able to focus on the steps necessary to reach your goals. I keep mine hanging on my wall directly opposite my bed. It’s the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see before going to sleep.

Now, Create Your Goals

Using your vision board as your roadmap, create three SMART business goals and at least two SMART personal development goals. Quantitate each goal and include a deadline date. Write your goals out and keep them visible. If this is not feasible, make sure they are easily accessible.

Keep It Real

It’s fun to fantasize about becoming a millionaire or making a high six-figure salary while sitting on the beach. The problem with this is that it’s just not that realistic. It’s not to say that no one has ever done it, but more than likely, they already had tons of resources like money and contacts that allowed them to delegate while they were lying on the beach.

When you come up with a figure or a measure for your goal to track, you want the number to be realistic and not just pulled out of thin air.

To be accurate and realistic about how much you can earn, you need to figure out the order of operations at your business.  How many hours will you have available for clients, and how many hours will be set aside for business administration? A typical 40-hour workweek will probably give you four or five hours billable in a day, and the rest of the time, you’ll need to work on marketing and other aspects of your business. If your billable rate is $40 an hour, that will provide a gross income of $1,000/week. Reduce that by business expenses and personal draw to reach your net income. Will that be enough to sustain and grow your business?

Perhaps you can find other ways to increase your billable hours, such as outsourcing or hiring full-time employees. The main thing is that you should not leave these numbers to chance. Design your entire day and determine what is realistic for your goals in each case. Don’t just pull a number out of the air. Think about the number and how it can happen or not happen before you put it in writing.

Personally Speaking

Use the same process for your personal development goals. Think about what skills you want to improve; how long will it take to develop? Are there classes you can take? A good freelance education source is Freelance University. You can find any skill development course in their extensive library. Now, create a SMART goal. For example, perhaps you want to become more efficient with Excel to maintain your financial plan or even automate some of your tasks. You could write, “By March 1 (or any date you choose), take an Excel course to increase efficiency with some of my business administration tasks.”

Review Your Goals

Now that you’ve taken the time to create some fantastic goals set up a schedule to evaluate your goals. I suggest reviewing your goals quarterly at a minimum. Assess where you are, is the goal progressing as anticipated; are you on track to complete as stated? Make any necessary alterations and note why the changes are required.

Planning and working towards your goals should not be a source of stress if you remember to think about what you want and how you will get there. This step helps clarify expectations and ensures that the goal is SMART and worthwhile.

To help you get started with your strategic goal planning, grab this FREE Goal Planner:

Goals planning


Outsourcing: The Key to Success


Outsourcing: The Key to Success

TASK Virtual Assistant

Think back to when you first set out to build your accounting business. Do you remember what your “wants” were? For most, whether building a small business or becoming an entrepreneur, the first need, or “want,” was to have a successful business that provided the income you needed without overtaking your life.  Working in the Corporate world was sucking your life away. Sure, you had an awesome career, maybe an excellent salary and title, but at what cost? You were missing out on the joy of life for long commutes and long hours. So you decided to take matters into your own hands.

Fast forward – six months? One year? Five years? Are you enjoying your business success and living that full and rich life, both professionally and personally? If you are, Congratulations! But I’d be willing to bet you are still overworked.  So how do you build that successful business and get everything you want? The key is outsourcing.

My Story

My story is very similar to many independent contractors. I was in the Corporate world, living the dream. I had an excellent, well-established career, a fantastic salary and benefits, and a commute from hell. But I loved my job. Then my company had a corporation-wide restructuring, and I found myself without a job. Trying to land another job in an unstable and volatile employment outlook proved futile and frustrating, so I stopped looking and decided to build my own business. My first thought was, “what do I want to be when I grow up.” After careful deliberation, I knew what would make me happiest would be helping others.   I thrived when I was employed as a secretary, an administrative assistant, and even an assistant manager. I was at my best in these positions because I was helping, I felt needed, and I knew I was making someone’s life a little bit easier.

So I did what makes sense to me, leveraged all my years of experience and skill set, and became a virtual assistant. Now I help accountants and CPAs like yourself with those annoying daily tasks, so you have the time to focus on growing that business you worked hard to build. This is the number one reason why virtual assistants exist and why we outsource our skills to you. Keep on reading to learn how outsourcing helps your business.

How Will Outsourcing Help My Business?

Outsourcing can improve your efficiency, cut costs, speed up product creation, and give you time to focus on the important planning and directing that a business owner must do, aside from doing the actual tasks in the business.

Outsourcing adds key resources and skills to your arsenal. No need to learn how to manipulate Excel or take a coding class when you can hire someone to do it when you need it.

Outsourcing means you pay your independent contractor only when they are working on your tasks, and you do not pay for non-productive hours.

When you start to outsource tasks in your business, you’ll notice bottlenecks start to clear up, and tasks are being completed more efficiently. Because the truth is, in most small businesses, the bottleneck is the business owner.

As a business owner, you have a lot to do, but you don’t have to do it all. You started your business to offer your expertise and your point of difference, not spend your day on mundane and overwhelming tasks. By hiring a virtual assistant, you focus your talent on doing things that only you can do.

The truth is, someone else can probably do some things better than you. Because of that, if you outsource to the right people for the right things, you can improve your offers, thus improving your customer satisfaction dramatically.

How Do I Outsource Successfully?

Before you start the search, define what it is you want to have done. Being clear on the parameters of your project is half the battle. Here are seven tips to help you along:

  1. Know What You Want – Prepare a detailed job or project description highlighting the expected deliverables, timetable, and budget.
  2. Hire More Than One – Outsourcing based on the parts of a project, such as writing, editing, and formatting, may turn out a better product. And bonus, if one gets sick, the project doesn’t come to a halt or fall back on you.
  3. Know Your Budget –  This is a very important step. You need to know the range you are able to pay for the projects you’re trying to outsource.
  4. Do Your Research – Visit their website, check out their social media pages, read their reviews and testimonials. Remember the saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Always check up on anyone you plan to work with, especially if they will be associated with your business name. You would do this if you were hiring an employee, and you should do it anytime you plan to have someone work for your company, no matter the status.
  5. Respect Their Business – Chances are, your independent contract will not be exclusive to you as they are not your employee. How many active clients they have or how they produce your deliverables is not any of your concerns. Use a non-compete statement in your contract to protect your business and clients.
  6. Communicate Regularly and Quickly – A regular touch base is important, especially with long-term projects or retainer bases services such as office admin and management. When your virtual assistant has questions, try to respond back as quickly as possible with the answers.
  7. Pay on Time – This is probably the top three if not the number one complaint most virtual assistants and independent contractors have. If you promise to pay them a certain amount of money for their service, pay them according to your agreement. Don’t hire people if you don’t have the funds to pay at that moment.

Outsourcing is the biggest key to your freedom. Remember that many things you need to be done can be done by someone else. You really can hire experts remotely for a lot less than you think and increase the capabilities of your business fast.

Need a virtual assistant? Schedule a call with me personally! Let's talk about your business and how I can help you.

Not sure what you can outsource to a Virtual Assistant? Download my helpful checklist and discover all the tasks you shouldn't be doing!

looking for a fresh start

5 Questions to Ask When Looking for a Fresh Start

looking for a fresh start

5 Questions to Ask When Looking for a Fresh Start

TASK Virtual Assistant

That's it. You've had it. Life is just not going as well as you'd like. It's time for a change, a Fresh Start! Sometimes starting over and cleaning off the slate is just what the doctor ordered. I should know; I'm the Fresh Start Queen. But how do you know where to begin? How do you know if you need a fresh start or maybe just a break?

It's simple. You start by asking yourself these five questions:

1. What Do You Really Desire?

Too often, what we think is a change in our life is nothing more than a dressed-up version of the old. To avoid falling into this trap, you must look at real and actual change.

Start by asking these hard questions:

  1. What do you want out of the change?
    • Probably the most important question, so spend some time with it. Be brutally honest with yourself. Even if it's only to spend Saturday morning watching cartoons as when we were kids, you must understand exactly what you want.
  2. How are you not getting this in your current situation?
    • Remember the saying, "You can't see the forest through the trees," and dig deep here. Take off those blinders and look around.
  3. What would you need to do to attain this?
    • Create your roadmap. Write out a few SMART goals and create your plan to make this change happen.
  4. And finally, what's one positive change you can make right now that will place you closer to this dream?
    • Declare your desires as if you have already obtained them. Speak affirmatively about your needs rather than focus on what you do not have or dissatisfaction.

2. How Many Risks Are You Willing to Take?

Fresh starts will demand a commitment from you, which manifests in how much of yourself you are willing to put into the project. If you are not willing to risk a new way of life or much in the form of change, you will not have much success.

I mentioned earlier that I am the Queen of Fresh Starts. I've never been one to shy away from going after what I want. About fifteen years ago, I made a huge decision to start a new life. As the Little Rascal's song goes, "packed what I could, sold what I couldn't, stopped to fill up on my way out of town," and my next verse was "start spreading the news…" and just like that, I left my job, my family, my home and moved to New York.

I didn't know anyone in New York, but I had accepted a contract position as a network administrator and knew this was the opportunity I had been looking for my entire life. So I took the risk, and those who know me will tell you, it was the best thing I ever did for myself.

3. What is Different About the Life You're Proposing

If you are looking for a new beginning, there must be something 'new,' or you are not starting over. Instead, you are merely continuing what you've been doing all along. So, what is the thing you haven't done before?

For me, it was freefalling. I didn't have a backup plan this time because I never once thought I was making a mistake. 

4. What Are You Giving Up?

A new beginning means something else is ending. So what are you leaving behind? 

I was giving up the stability of my family and friends, of knowing an area so well I could make it home blindfolded. I was giving up my comfort zone. 

Remember that this question doesn't imply you must abandon every aspect of your past. Sometimes we are leaving behind only a small part of our life.

5. Are You Truly Ready to Let Go of the Past?

This last question can be challenging because you might not know the answer until you have begun. Your fresh start will fail if your past baggage is weighing you down. At the very least, it helps to have a positive attitude about letting go and are willing to do the work to make this happen.

In the end, these questions will give you some idea of what to expect as you embark on this journey of letting go. After all, being prepared truly is half the battle.

five fast ways to make quicker and better decisions

Five Fast Ways to Make Quicker and Better Decisions

five fast ways to make quicker and better decisions

Five Fast Ways to Make Quicker and Better Decisions

task virtual assistant

Being an efficient decision-maker can often make a difference in missed opportunities.  You have to be decisive, and often you have to make quick decisions, but you want to be sure you are making the best choice.  So how do you make quicker and better decisions? How do you become more accurate and effective at making decisions when it counts?

You have to be decisive. Making important decisions in less time means more power and control over your life. It also means that you will have the opportunity to gain the trust of others. Being able to make important decisions will enhance your business and personal life.

Start with making small decisions in a timely fashion to help train your brain to think through questions more quickly. You will be surprised at how quickly our brains can be conditioned. Follow these five tips to help put your decision-making process in the fast lane.

What is the Objective?

Your S.M.A.R.T. goals will play a vital part in your decision-making process. Knowing the objectives of the decision and knowing your mission will help make the decision-making process simple.

Ask Yourself: "What are we really trying to do here?"

Write it out, brainstorm, and discuss. Is it your role to solve this problem? Do you have the tools needed? It is vital that your decision, any decision, is within your mission.

Seek Out Wisdom and Knowledge

Seek out wise counsel. Really. If you are surrounded by more experienced professionals who have done what you are about to do, ask questions and inform yourself. Do needed research. Don’t let pride or proving that you have it “all under control” blind you to great resources all around you.

It Does NOT Have to be Perfect

Don’t overthink - just start. Make a plan. An imperfect, real plan. Start doing the work that is deciding and solving. Take note of the effects and response to your action. This way, you can adjust if needed.

Adjust Early...

…it’s ok to fail, but fail fast and move on.

Be humble - adjust early if needed. Don’t run the train off the track because you are unwilling to admit that you made a mistake. If your choice was wrong, own up to it in a professional way and make things right to the best of your ability. It’s better to win the fight after a change of tactics than to get knocked out by your own ego and pride.

Decision-making does not have to be tedious and stressful. An important part of the process is to know what you truly have power over, to control only what YOU can control.  If it’s not your decision to make, stay out of the control room.  Zero in only on what you have the ability to decide on. This means staying focused and being able to take action without becoming overwhelmed by the details.

With the right attitude, planning, and strategy, you can become a faster, more efficient, and competent decision-maker. This is a great tool for the corporate world and everyday life.

Brain Power for Success

Master Brainpower For Success

brain power for success

Master Brainpower For Success

Do we take our brains for granted? Our brainpower helps us survive, make decisions, be creative, and think strategically.  We can use our brains to imagine, make things up, fantasize. But the brain needs to be exercised, just like any other muscle in our body. Failing to do so can leave it soft and not functioning as it should.

We are conditioned to believe that with age comes some loss of that function. Recently I started noticing some decline. I was becoming a bit more forgetful and solving math – my favorite thing ever! – was taking longer. I had to write it down and use a calculator on equations I had previously performed in my head.

I refuse to believe that because I am getting older, my brain function will wane. Doesn’t wine improve with age? I am a hobbyist winemaker, and I have a Cabernet Sauvignon that I bottled in 2013. I found it lacking, but I had friends who enjoyed it, so I gave most away. I came across a few dusty bottles not too long ago and thought I would give it another try. I was quite surprised by the change. The wine has aged for seven years, and it now has a smoothness to it, and I enjoyed it very much.

I decided I needed to be more proactive to guard my brain and incorporate lifestyle changes that will improve brain function, and increase my brainpower.


Simple fact, exercise boosts brainpower. Just look at the way Jack LaLanne lived his life. He exercised every day. He even worked out the day before he died, at 96! His very healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise was not for his physical appearance, although he did look fantastic, but for his mind. He believed that man’s biggest impression “…will not be the strength of his muscles, but the strength of his mind.”

If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, are a couch potato, you will age. Those who exercise will outperform couch potatoes in cognitive tests as well as tasks. If you want to improve your thinking skills, be more focused, you need to move your body.


Making sure you get enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your brain (and your general health); however, that's not saying you must go to bed at 10:00 pm and wake up at 6:00 am.

Some people are naturally more productive in the morning, do their best before noon. They usually find themselves sleepy in the evening and rise early. On the flip side, we have the night owls. Most productive in the afternoon, they usually stay up until the wee hours of the morning and are late risers.

Experts suggest 7-9 hours of sleep in a cool, dark, and quiet room no matter what category you fall in. Try to avoid light from computers or televisions close to bedtime, and use room darkening curtains to keep disturbing lights out.

Pay Attention

Be aware of the moment, of your surroundings, and stop multitasking. The brain cannot multitask. It focuses on concepts one at a time, one after the other. So, while you think you are multitasking and being productive, you’re really not.

Think about this, have you ever been working on an important project, and someone asks you to look something up for them, and then the phone rings, and you answer it. Later that day, your colleague asked if you found the information they asked about, and you quickly apologize; perhaps you even laugh it off with a funny comment about your memory. And what about the phone call? Do you remember who it was? What did they need? Or what message did they leave and for whom?

Our brains are just not equipped for multitasking. We only retain a few things at any given time in our short-term memory; therefore, multitasking, in reality, works against you, making you less efficient and effective. Using the Pomodoro technique or hiring a virtual assistant are some ways you can manage your daily tasks and projects. 

More Exercise

Brain exercise is just as important as physical exercise.  Our days are full of repeated tasks, functions we can do with our eyes closed – on autopilot. But if you stop using it, you will lose it. Nothing is quite so good for your brain as engaging it and challenging it with new information. Take a class, learn another language. Do something new.

Regularly challenge your brain with crossword puzzles or Sudoku. There are many apps out there filled with all kinds of mental challenges designed to enhance your memory. So, why not play a game that gives a real positive boost to your brainpower?

Losing cognition skills doesn’t have to be inevitable.  Like wine, your brain can improve with age. Jack LaLanne once said, “People don’t die of old age, they die of inactivity.” The same goes for that magnificent supercomputer residing in your head! In fact, by making some simple life changes now, you can help your brain to stay healthy and focused, regardless of your age.

strategic thinking, plan ahead

Strategic Thinking Changes Your World. Isn’t It Time You Began?

strategic thinking, plan ahead

Strategic Thinking Changes Your World. Isn’t It Time You Began?


Step back and take a broad look at your business – the aerial view. Look at the industry you play in and the consumer environment. Identify your focus, define your playing field. Anticipate moves and plan your win-win approach and decide what is needed to get there.

When you are a strategic thinker, you never pay attention to just one detail. You want to see the overall goal and the details of how you are going to get there. By looking at all sides of the equation, you encourage your brain to think more wholly rather than in parts.

Are You a Strategic Thinker?

Strategic thinkers often ask themselves key questions like:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • How will we get there?

One of the beneficial qualities of strategic thinking is innovation. It’s the ability to see emerging conditions that could provide long term advantages. To never be content with leaving something as is, to be continuously improving and looking for the next niche to fill or mountain to climb. This ability to be innovative keeps you headed in the direction of success towards your goals.

Strategic thinkers never make assumptions; they instead ask the right questions that help them intuitively make sense of the chaos. They make informed, bias-free decisions and remain open to all possibilities. Strategic thinkers already know they don’t know everything. To make better use of your skills and to make better decisions, you have to be ready to challenge what you think you know. Strategic Thinkers never close their minds to anything.

Strategic thinkers are concerned more with results and consequences. They can develop strategies and execute them, as well. They know how to get things done today but have the foresight to plan for the future.

It Starts with a Plan

A strategic thinker puts plans into action. You need to make decisions and then stand by them. Anytime you are dealing with the idea of making decisions and carrying out plans to completion, you are using strategic thinking. When you think things through strategically, you’ve got the best chance of success with your goal or project.

An essential part of this process is cause and effect. Understanding cause and effect is incredibly important to make more informed choices. Cause and effect thinking looks at any situation and asks you to theorize what happens if you make a particular choice and whether this outcome is favorable or not. Getting in the habit of thinking through every decision you make with cause and effect in mind helps you to take your thinking to the next level and serves you well regardless of what question you’re applying this methodology too.

Be More Prepared

It’s not only Boy Scouts who should be prepared. When it comes to strategic thinking, you need to think ahead. Ask yourself, would you rather be reactive or be proactive?

For example, decide how you will handle the next tantrum your toddler throws now before it happens. Read some parenting blogs or books to find out what other people recommend and then determine what tactics would work best for your child. Try different ones until you find the one that works for your situation.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.

Where are you right now…really? The strategic thinker knows how to run a quick check, somewhat like taking inventory, to see where they are in the grand scheme of things. Think of it like you would a computer running a diagnostic. This quick look examines the progress you’ve made. It asks where you are in the process and whether you’re still moving toward your goal.

Visualizing the end goal in as much detail as possible aids in your efforts toward strategic thinking by helping to clarify your objectives. Picture various forms of the future. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10? Add in varying obstacles and how you will overcome them. Revisit this vision often and evaluate where you are.

Consider the short- and long-term implications and consequences. Anticipate industry changes, threats, and opportunities and adjust your goals accordingly.

Maybe, as in the last example, your child doesn’t respond well to any of the suggestions you implemented. Don’t give up. Go back and do more research or take a look at the recommendations you discounted earlier.

Benefits of Strategic Thinking

The importance of strategic thinking goes beyond business and organization to include individual growth and success. There are numerous benefits of strategic thinking. It helps you plan, become efficient, increases strengths, and create direct paths to achieve your objective. The audience members listen to the speaker who has a well thought out plan. Practicing strategic thinking gives you the influence so others will listen and follow you.

Strategic thinking makes difficult things more straightforward and more easily understood. It allows you to take complex issues or long-term objectives that can be difficult to tackle and breaks them into manageable sizes.

With strategic thinking, you will ask the right questions, such as:

✔ Direction: What should we do next? Why should it be next? Do we need to break the process down into smaller tasks/goals?

✔ Organization: Who is responsible for what? Who is responsible for whom? Do we have the right people in the right places? 

strategic thinking, plan
A responsibility assignment matrix, the RACI matrix, maps out every task, milestone, or key decision in completing tasks for a project or business process.

✔ Cash: What is our projected income, expense, net? Can we afford it? How can we afford it?

✔ Tracking: Are we on target? What is the initial target goal? What can we do to increase the results? What is the contingency plan?

✔ Overall Evaluation: Are we achieving the quality we expect and demand of ourselves? Are we missing an element?

✔ Refinement: How can we be more productive and more efficient? What adjustments can we make to do a better job?

Develop Your Strategic Thinking

“We are what we do, day by day. So, excellence is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

Can strategic thinking be taught? In short, Yes. Anyone can develop the skill and practice it competently. From the top executives of an organization to the mother of young kids, strategic thinking is a skill that helps you succeed in whatever activity you are involved.

To think strategically means to see and to be able to understand the bigger picture of where you need to go. Then you need to take the necessary steps to achieve the associated goals.

You can develop strategic thinking in different ways, but it begins with changing your mindset.

“We can make and break our habits” -  Dr. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Below are some simple exercises that teach and discipline the mind to think in different ways:

  • Do something you have never done before. It can be something as simple as taking a different route to work. Observe everything along the way. Then describe the experience on paper, writing down what you discovered.
  • Ask a question about something unusual. Your goal isn’t to get information but instead to invite analysis. Try to answer it without looking for the answer. Make hypotheses. Then find the answer. For example: Why are there five fingers on each hand?
  • Do role-playing. Think of someone you admire and try to emulate how this person would think and act. Then during the day, behave as if you were that person. Describe what you discovered at the end of the day.
  • Learn to prioritize tasks. Decide which tasks can wait by asking yourself, “What is the one task I can do today that will have the best results?”
  • Improve your listening skills and keep an open mind. Be receptive to feedback and evaluate everything you hear.
  • Along the same lines, get better at your questioning skills - question everything you see or hear. Don’t be cynical, but instead collect and weigh facts without dismissing ideas or traditions.
  • Observe and seek out trends. Routinely explore and integrate the internal trends happening around you. Pay attention to repeated issues and the obstacles you face.

Strategic thinking is a skill that you can hone and apply to virtually any activity. It’s a skill that helps you plan and reach your goals. It enables you to think in an orderly way and plan for the future.

With strategic thinking in your arsenal, you’ll do a lot less reacting.  Instead, you’ll be planning, thinking, and doing the things that matter most to you, and your life will run much more smoothly. You will examine the options, see solutions others don’t, and anticipate your next move wisely. You will accomplish more and be less stressed.

You will find yourself using these skills to change the outcome of your life. It all begins with a hard look at where you are, and a desire to become more, to accomplish things, to achieve something so grand you might have thought it impossible.

Strategic thinking changes your world. Isn’t it time you began?