Episode: Using the Planner as a Business Tool

Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.

Megan Hyatt Miller: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.

Michael Hyatt: And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. We’re in a season of celebrating here at Full Focus and The Full Focus Planner, which I’m sure you’ve heard of, is now five years old. Megan, I can barely believe this.

Megan Hyatt Miller: I know, our baby’s all grown up. Well, amazingly, we have actually sold about a million copies to all kinds of people who are using The Full Focus Planner, teachers, designers, accountants, executives, sales professional. But I got to tell you the one segment of the market for the planner that I really get super excited about are business owners, because I am a business owner. Right?
We actually think that the planner is such an important tool for business owners, that we send it to all of our Business Accelerator coaching clients as a subscription when they join the program, because we know how important it is to connect their annual goals to their daily actions. And it’s especially powerful for business owners. And in that program, it’s all about tools and frameworks to help business owners scale. And if you know how to use it, The Full Focus Planner can be a really powerful tool to help you do just that.

Michael Hyatt: Well, like just about everything else we’ve created, we try to scratch our own itch.

Megan Hyatt Miller: Right.

Michael Hyatt: So in this particular case, we are trying to connect our goal achievement with our daily productivity, and there really wasn’t a tool out there. There are a lot of tools that deal with productivity and there’s something to deal with goal achievement, but there is nothing that connected the two together. And that’s why I love The Full Focus Planner system, because it does wed those two components together and makes it possible for us to achieve more by doing less.

Megan Hyatt Miller: Well. The thing, I think, for business owners that happens a lot is, we have a lot coming at us every day. There are things that come up that you didn’t plan. There are fires that you have to put out. There’s always all kinds of stuff going on, new opportunities, the market’s changing, whatever. And it’s really easy to get distracted from the annual goals that you’re committed to as an organization. And so that’s, I think, why we’re so excited about talking about this connection of using The Full Focus Planner for business owners in that context, because we know if we can help business owners stay focused on their annual goals, then they can drive their whole organization forward.

Michael Hyatt: So, we’re going to cover two aspects of using The Full Focus Planner as a business tool. We’re going to talk about personal use and team use. But before we do that, we need to explain the Full Focus System because this planner is not just a bunch of disparate pages that don’t go together. But it’s built on top of a philosophical system that we call, the Full Focus System. Now we talked about this a few weeks ago, but it’s worth covering again here. So Megan, do you want to kind of give us the three legs of this three legged stool?

Megan Hyatt Miller: Yeah. Well, if you want to really drive performance in your organization or in your personal life for that matter, we think there are three essential components to that, and that’s the Full Focus System. There’s vision, there’s alignment, and there’s execution. And most of us, especially in business, have been taught to focus on the execution part. And usually, we don’t have the vision alignment parts properly resourced or thought about or defined. And then we struggle on the execution side. So, that’s what we talked about in episode where we dug into this, which we’ll link to in the show notes, if you want some more detail.
But essentially, vision is about clarifying what you want to do or where you want to go. And for our purposes, we’re not really talking about long range vision, though that is something we talk about here at Full Focus, pretty often. In the context of The Full Focus Planner, we’re not. We’re talking about an annual view and we’re talking about really, even more than that, just what do you want to do? So, that’s the vision part.
Then there’s alignment, which is really about organizing to get it done, or bringing things into congruence that align back to the vision so that the things you’re working on, for example, on a weekly basis or a monthly basis or a quarterly basis, those things need to tie back to the vision or you’re going to be executing, but you’re going to be executing on the wrong thing. So, it can also be in a team context, getting your team on the same page about what you’re doing. Make sure everybody really understands and that all their projects and tasks align back this vision of what you’re trying to do so you can accomplish it.
And then lastly, execution, which we all understand intuitively, that’s just doing it, getting it done. But if you have these three components, vision, alignment, and execution, then you can achieve extraordinary performance.

Michael Hyatt: Yeah. One of the things I’ve seen is that organizations who have a near exclusive focus on execution, everybody’s really busy and everybody’s really tired. And it’s because they haven’t aligned their actions with what it is they’re trying to accomplish. Everybody’s just trying to look busy, be busy, accomplish more, not quite sure where it’s going, but somehow in the alchemy of doing a lot of stuff, hopefully you can stumble toward your vision.
The Full Focus System really is designed to as an alternative to that, where it’s really purposeful action, because the goal of productivity is not efficiency, it’s effectiveness. We want to do the right things, not just more things. And so when we have the right vision, we’ve determined the destination, and we’re aligned around that so that our weekly activities and our quarterly activities and our annual activities all line up toward the vision, then it gives purpose to our execution. There’s a through line from our daily activity list, all the way to the vision that we’re trying to accomplish. So again, The Full Focus Planner is the tool for doing just that.

Megan Hyatt Miller: Yeah. And we’ve really baked in this achievement or performance framework into The Full Focus Planner. And that’s why we give it to all of our Business Accelerator clients. Because if you’re going to scale a business, the first thing you have to scale is yourself. And we feel like The Full Focus Planner is such a great tool for that. So, all right. Well, let’s just get into this a little bit.

Michael Hyatt: So again, we’re going to talk about two aspects. We’re going to talk about the first aspect, personal use, and then we’re going to talk about team use. When we talk about personal use, everyone needs a tool to establish and protect their priorities. Some people use simple things like the Mac Reminders system, or they might use Asana or some big project management thing. The reason we developed the planner as an analog tool so that people could actually have a paper planning tool that wasn’t part of all that digital complexity and confusion, is that we wanted people to be able to focus on what was most important and not get distracted or sidetracked by all the other things swirling around in the digital world.
So, that’s the first thing. The planner helps you establish and protect priorities. So I think, Megan, it would be helpful if we look at this from two angles, sort of as an offensive tool and a defensive tool. And why don’t you talk about the offensive elements of this and I’ll talk about the defensive?

Megan Hyatt Miller: Okay. Well, just a comment about the digital complexity that you just talked about, when we launched the planner in 2017, there were so many fewer ways to unclutter your digital environment. So fortunately, things have calmed down a little bit, or at least our control around the things that tend to create clutter digitally, have calmed down. And so many of us are using the Full Focus System in kind of a hybrid environment. We’re using other tools along with it. And I’m really grateful for that. I personally love the analog format, but I also think there’s great value in digital tools as well. And so, I think we kind of have figured out the best of both worlds here with a Full Focus System.
So, okay. Let’s talk about the offensive side of this. First of all, there’s goal design. The first thing that you’re going to encounter when you open up your Full Focus Planner, and those of you who are subscribers, you know this, you get this every quarter, is your annual goals page. And it’s so important that you don’t skip that page, that you don’t just kind of go past it so you can get to the first daily page. But you really think through your annual goals, and on a quarterly basis, that you go through the process of evaluating those, which we’re going to talk about in a little bit more detail, here in a few minutes. But we provide these goal detail pages so that you can actually put your goal in the right format so that you can take action on it.
Because a lot of times what we think are goals, are really just aspirations. They’re way too squishy for us to ever know if we accomplished them or to know kind of what the parameters of success are. And so, we spend a fair amount of time at the beginning of the planner, just helping you design your goals. And I think that is really the foundation for the vision piece in the Full Focus System. You’ve got to decide what you want.
From there, though, it’s really easy to forget about or lose focus on what you decided you wanted. Because like I said, at the beginning, all these things are coming at us as business owners and leaders every day, that can take us off course. And so, the quarterly preview process where you evaluate the past quarter and you look ahead at the coming quarter, what will your priorities be in the coming quarter? Which goals are you going to be focused on? What worked and what didn’t work about the past quarter? Let’s learn those lessons, so we can really have the benefit of them to make our lives easier and more effective going forward. You’re going to go through that process at the end of each planner that you have.
And as we get ready here to start the third quarter of the year, that’s a great tool for you because a lot of times around the middle of the year, especially if you’re a business owner, you may be a little off track. You may sort of feel like you’re inside a snow globe a little bit. And this quarterly preview process is a powerful way to realign yourself. This is a tool of alignment to realign yourself back to your annual goals and make sure you’re on track.
And then kind of a mini version of that, is the weekly preview process, which I got to tell you guys, this is the thing that I could not imagine living without. I do this weekly preview process week end and week out, because it’s the antidote for feeling anxiety when I go to bed on Sunday night, looking ahead to the week where I sort of have that sense of dread, especially if I know there’s a lot going on in our business. Which I mean, usually that’s the case. This helps me to feel in control to know exactly what I need to accomplish.
For example, I’ve been out of town on some personal stuff for the last several days. And I came in, this is Tuesday that we’re recording this episode, and I came in and did my weekly preview process this morning for the week. And I just felt like, “Okay, I know what I’m doing.” I don’t have that disoriented feeling like you often have on Sunday night or when you come back from vacation. I’m sure a lot of you guys are out on vacation this summer. And so, that is a powerful process to align what you’re going to be focused on for the week back to your annual goals.
And then the last piece of this kind of offensive toolkit, is your daily big three. And this is really the bulk of the planner is walking you through this daily exercise of identifying what are my big three priorities for the day? What do I have to get accomplished that are non-negotiable today? And I love this discipline because it’s deceptively simple. It’s a straightforward discipline. But if you do three important things every day, I mean, multiply that by a year. That’s a lot of important things. And again, these are going to be three tasks that point back to the objectives that you identified in the weekly preview.
So, everything is working together to push the thing right above it forward. So, your daily tasks move your weekly objectives forward. Your weekly objectives are pushing your quarterly goals forward. And your quarterly goals enable you to ultimately, accomplish your whole list of annual goals. And I love this because they all go together, it’s very simple, and you just kind of get in the rhythm where when you take these away, it’s like you can’t imagine doing your life without it. That’s how I feel, anyway, as a business owner.

Michael Hyatt: One of the things I fail to mention oftentimes, is the tutorials, the video tutorials that we give to people free when they buy the planner. This is kind of a business course in itself. For example, our short little video on how to create and format goals in the proper way, man, it’s worth the price of the planner, because you don’t get that anywhere. You weren’t taught that in grade school, you weren’t taught that in college, you weren’t taught that in business school. You probably weren’t even taught that in your business career. And I’m just amazed at how many people, when they come into our business coaching program, Business Accelerator, don’t know how to create or correctly state a smarter goal, or any kind of goal for that matter. Like you said, Megan, it’s more of an aspiration.
We’ll we teach you in a very short, about a five minute video, exactly how to do it. And believe me, when you get the goal right, when you get it stated in the right way, it makes it a lot easier to achieve. In fact, I like to say, “A goal well, conceived is a goal half achieved.” You still have to do it, but when you’ve got it stated correctly, it makes it so much better.

Megan Hyatt Miller: Well-

Michael Hyatt: And of course, we have video training also on the quarterly, weekly preview and on the daily big three.

Megan Hyatt Miller: Well, what I think is really important about this, from a business owner perspective, is that one of our most important jobs is to communicate vision, to cast vision for our teams. But if we don’t know how to frame up a vision, which, a goal is a type of vision, then we’re not going to be very effective at aligning ourselves to that or our teams. And so, there’s a lot at stake. You really can’t afford to not have this figured out.
And we make it so easy in the planner by walking you through that in that tutorial video. And then you have it in your planner every single time you open up a new planner. You have the annual goal list page at the front, and then you have the goal detail pages. Which remind you, in case you’ve forgotten, but you’re going to be well on your way to a successful year within your company, by just framing up your goals appropriately.

Michael Hyatt: And if you guys have heard us talk about the double win, where you win at work and succeed at life, this is a tool for achieving that. Because it lines up your big goals with your daily actions, so that you’re not engaged in all this sideways energy, just doing a lot of busy stuff that’s leading nowhere. You want to be able to focus your effort so that everything you’re doing is leading to an important goal. I mean, that’s the secret, again, to achieving more and doing less. If you’ve got a plan, a vision, if you’re aligned to that, then your daily actions make sense and it’s not so overwhelming.
Okay. So, that’s the offensive aspect of the planner. Let’s talk about the defensive aspects of it. So first of all, we’ve got something in the planner that we call, daily rituals. This ensures that you get the important things done on a routine or regular basis, really harnessing the power of habits, so that through incremental change over time, that you can really upgrade your life and your business. So, that takes some intentionality and mapping out those daily rituals. What are the things that every day, sets you up for success?
And we recommend four rituals. There’s a morning ritual. So what are the things that are going to set me up that I can do this morning that are going to set me up for success, so I can really win the day? So for me, that would be things like prayer, Bible reading, journaling, exercising, eating a good breakfast, that type of thing. That’s part of my morning ritual ,and that’s what sets me up to win.
Then we recommend that people have a workday startup ritual. So when they first get to the office or when they first log into their computer and start their work, there’s a set of things that they don’t want to be doing all day long, like checking email or checking Slack or maybe checking social media. But things that you want to give some space to so that you make sure that you hit it, but that you get it out of the way so you can get focused on that deep work, that important work that really moves the needle.
And then we recommend a daily shutdown ritual. So the same thing at the end of the day, so that you go ahead and close out the day. And for me, that would be checking email, checking Slack, checking social media, again, all my inboxes, making sure that I’ve given attention to those things.
And then finally, an evening ritual. What can I do at the end of the day that kind of sets the stage for the next day, so I get enough sleep, so that I relax, so that I kind of get my head clear and get a sense of perspective?
So those four rituals, we give you space in the planner to create those, to articulate those. And by the way, it’s not a one and done thing. Mine has shifted and changed shape over the years. And particularly, depending upon your season of life, like Megan’s morning ritual looks very different from mine, because she’s got a three year old and bunch of kids. And I’m an empty nester, so I’ve got more time to give to that than she does.

Megan Hyatt Miller: Yeah. I love the daily rituals. This is one of those things that, again, it’s deceptively simple and it’s easy to minimize and maybe, kind of brush it off or something you’ll do later. But nothing sets you up for the double win, winning at work and succeeding at life, like having these rituals because they act as guardrails to keep us from doing things, kind of unconsciously overworking.
For example, when you have a workday startup and shut down ritual, it enables you to not do things like checking your email before work because you know you have a designated time on your calendar to get through that stuff, to go through your inboxes and make sure you’ve answered questions from your team. It also enables you to make sure that when the day is done, you leave work at work, even if you work at home. You don’t have your computer open on the kitchen island while you’re making dinner, for example, checking email or Slack, because you already did that before you left. And you can fully transition into your personal life and be present for your family or the people that you love and not kind of feel torn. It enables you to have real clear lines throughout your day. And I love that.
And what you said about our daily rituals looking different, especially our morning routine, is totally true. I mean, when our youngest daughter, our kids are 21 to three, when she was a baby, I mean my morning ritual was very short. Fortunately now, it’s a little bit longer, with her being three, but it does look very different than yours does. And I reevaluate this on a quarterly basis. I don’t always make significant changes, but probably on an annual basis, I make some pretty significant changes because just my personal life is so dynamic.
And this can always be adjusted to fit whatever season you’re in. You don’t have to be idealistic about it. And, and think, “If I don’t have two or three hours, I can’t have a high quality morning ritual.” No. If you have 10 minutes, you can have something that’s meaningful. But this really is the foundation to achievement and productivity and high performance, which is why we see this with professional athletes and others who really perform at a high level. They have these things in place.

Michael Hyatt: The second tool is, the ideal week. Now you can kind of drift through life and be reactive to the requests of other people, but that’s not a great way to populate your calendar. Because what that becomes is your calendar becomes a to-do list for everybody else. But the ideal week says that if you had a hundred percent control of your time, what would your ideal week look like? Now, let’s be honest, you’re rarely going to achieve your idea week, but it gives you a pattern. It gives you a template so that as you book meetings, you slot them into the places that are optimal for you, not for the people making the request.
So for example, I’m going to have all my internal meetings on Monday. I’m going to have external meetings on Tuesday through Thursday. And usually that’s my time to be on stage or to present or to deliver content. And then on Friday, if I just have some other meetings with other people, I can do it there. But that’s part of my ideal week.
And again, like you said, Megan, when it comes to daily rituals, this is something you can tweak over time. I literally just revised mine about two weeks ago, because there was significant change that I wanted to make about my start time and my end time at work. So I got together with Jim, my executive assistant, I mapped out the changes I wanted to make. I said, “This is the ideal week.”, so that now he knows when he gets a request, he knows exactly where to slot it.
It doesn’t mean that we’re legalistic about it, because there are times when people make a request that it has to happen on a time that we would really like to have something else. But at least we have the choice at that point. And even if we could only get 80 to 85% of our weekly activities to conform to our ideal week, that’s a whole lot better than just being in reactive mode and stuff just littered all over your calendar and you doing what other people want you to do, when they want to do it.

Megan Hyatt Miller: Well, what I love about the ideal week is that it preserves time for things that are important, but maybe not urgent. For example, as a business owner, some of the most important work we do is ideation. We’re thinking of new ideas for our business, we’re envisioning the future, we’re exploring new opportunities, but that stuff is rarely urgent. And if we don’t have a block on our calendar that stays open for those things, for me, that’s Wednesday, without meetings, it’s really hard to make that happen. And oftentimes, we just kind of get sucked in to the day-to-day. And we don’t leave enough time to do that futuristic work that’s so critical for the growth of our business. So, I think this is a great tool, in particular, for business owners.

Michael Hyatt: Okay. These are the two angles that form a total plan for business goal achievement. That’s the first aspect, the personal use. But we’re going to talk about a second aspect about team use.
So offensive and defensive tools can be adapted and used with our teams. In fact, we’ve got hundreds, if not thousands of companies all across North America and Europe and Australia and other places, who are using this at a team level where everybody has the same suite of tools, everybody has the same language, and everybody has the same goal achievement and productivity orientation. And the planner really makes that possible. And again, it’s all about alignment, but the planner allows you not only to personally align, it facilitates that team alignment. So Megan, talk about how we use it at Full Focus.

Megan Hyatt Miller: Yeah. Well, I mean, just imagine the benefit that if you’re a subscriber to The Full Focus Planner and you’ve been getting those three important things done every day and achieving your annual goals, imagine if your whole team, each person was accomplishing three important things each day, all pointing back to the goals that you’re trying to achieve. So it’s really, as our friends Jim MacLaren said, “It’s really the biggie size version of using The Full Focus Planner.”
And one of the things that we like to do is, what we call a, weekly focus meeting. And that’s a place where either teams do the full weekly preview process together, or individuals come together to share their weekly big three and ensure that everybody’s priorities are aligned back to the goals that the team is focused on for the quarter. Because a lot of times, what can happen is, you can have misunderstandings, maybe you as a business owner, you made some comment to somebody about something you thought was really important or urgent and they go run with that. And it was just kind of an off the cuff statement. And then you realize weeks later, they went and spent all this time working on a project that didn’t align back to the goals. And you’re like, “Oh my gosh. We just wasted all this time. I wasn’t actually that serious about it. It was just kind of a statement that I made.”
And so I think this is an opportunity to say, “Okay, here’s the vision again. Here are the goals that we’re focused on, and let’s make sure that the things that we’re working on, the projects that we’re working on together and our individual tasks, that those things align back to the goals.” So, I think The Full Focus Planner is an amazing tool for teams to use, partly because, not only because of the process, but because it gives you this common language that helps you to prioritize. It helps people to get clarity in their own mind about where to put their focus and attention for maximum return on investment. So, we love this and we have so many businesses, as you said, Dad, that are using this inside their organizations to really operationalize vision, alignment, and execution, the Full Focus System.

Michael Hyatt: This may be obvious, but I want to say it. A lot of business owners get frustrated when they spend a week or more creating a strategic plan. And then they don’t have a way to implement it. And so, that strategic plan goes in a binder or goes on somebody’s hard drive, or gets uploaded somewhere and nobody ever looks at it again, because nobody knows how to break it down into the chunks and make it operational. And The Full Focus Planner is the tool that does just that. So if you’ve been frustrated by that, if you’re a business owner, and you’ve been frustrated that you’ve invested in planning, but you don’t really have the organization aligned around that plan, and you’re not confident that people are executing against that plan, well, this tool is awesome for implementing the strategic plan.

Megan Hyatt Miller: Yeah. And that’s what we hear from our clients too, because we teach a process that we call, Strategic Design, which is our kind of proprietary, strategic planning process with inside Business Accelerator. But how that gets operationalized is with The Full Focus Planner inside the organizations of our clients. And they just love it. It just really simplifies that and keeps everybody on track, pointed in the same direction to accomplish the company’s annual goals.

Michael Hyatt: Okay. So, The Full Focus Planner is a business tool, it’s a personal tool, but it has team applications, two aspects to it. But this is at the core of what we do as a company, Full Focus. In fact, we changed the name of our company to what we call the planner, because it’s so integral to everything we do. And it’s especially integral to our business coaching program, Business Accelerator.
And by the way, if you’ve thought about business coaching, and I know that coaching is very popular right now. But if you’ve thought about business coaching, not all business coaching programs are created equal. And we think there are some amazing features of ours that are built on this Full Focus System that differentiates our program from everything else out on the market.
But if that sounds like something you’d like to explore, I really want to encourage you to go to, We’ll have a link in the show notes. But there you can sign up for a free 45 minute business growth coaching call with one of our business growth consultants. And they will just learn about your business. They’ll find out where you can get a few quick wins, and they’ll see if our business program, after they’ve explained it to you, makes sense for you. If it doesn’t, no harm, no foul. But if it does, this could be a game changer for you guys, in terms of winning at work and succeeding at life.

Megan Hyatt Miller: Hope you guys are excited about how to leverage a tool that probably many of you are already using. And if you’re not, of course, we want you to become a subscriber. But your Full Focus Planner as a business tool, so that you’re able to scale yourself so that you can ultimately scale your business. We’ve enjoyed being with you this week. Until next week, lead to win.