The One Month Frame

Some time ago, I wrote a letter about the one inch frame, a concept that I borrowed from Anne Lamott, an author that I’ve come to idolize.

As I was planning the relaunch of my email letter for January 1, 2015, I started to think about the one inch frame. Anne Lamott’s concept is that when the writing task seems overwhelming, just start by writing only what you can see in a one inch frame. Maybe it is a short description or a tiny little bit of dialogue that will get the writing mind relaxed enough to keep writing.

My idea was to take the one inch frame and expand it to a concept of the one month frame and use it for managing projects. I tend to have illusions of grandeur when I start planning a new project and believe I can do so much more than I actually can. I’ve been known to plan out months in advance on some projects. In hindsight, I’ve come to understand that no one can predict the future so far in advance. Inevitably, I can’t meet my unrealistic goals, get frustrated and usually quit.

I’m not good at working without a goal in mind. I need some structure and I need to do some planning. I’ve tried to work without any goals or plans but what happens is I get distracted and the next thing I know, I’m watching Elementary on streaming video from my computer or wandering around FaceBook reading cute status updates.

Even though I need some kind of plan and a goal at the end, I can hold the plan lightly and only plan a few weeks ahead. So much of what I do doesn’t have a hard and fast deadline. I can create deadlines but I don’t find it necessary to get the work done.

The one month frame seems about right. I can set up some challenges for myself, a goal, that can reasonably be completed within a month. For example, I can challenge myself to finish 30,000 words for the email letters by the end of the month. If I write every day, that is only 1,000 words per day and I can reasonably handle that amount, maybe even get ahead by having a few days where I write 2,000 words. I’ve set up a method to track my results in an excel spreadsheet chart. The visual representation is really helpful.

I’ve also built in rewards along the way. At the 15,000 word mark, I might reward myself by buying a new e-book to read. I can also create a reward after I finish my daily quota. Instead of using the streaming TV video as a distraction, it becomes the reward AFTER I finish the daily word count.

I’ve also come to realize I need one additional feature in a one month frame. At the end of the month, I need to assess where I am. Did I succeed in completing what I set out to do at the start of the month? I can also review what worked well and what did not work at all.

As I look ahead to the next month and start the planning process all over again, I can start with a fresh challenge. Maybe I didn’t quite reach my 30,000 word goal. Maybe I only wrote 28,596 words. No matter, I can start again and reset the timer, so to speak. I’ve decided that since I work for myself, why not? I’ve still accomplished something in the previous month and I can have a fresh start for the next month. Besides, I’ve found there is always a next month.

What do you think of a one month frame for project planning? Share your thought in the comments.

Cheers, Catherine  Location: Saltspring Island, BC

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