The Office? The Hotel? Or Iceland…

‘I’ll have the terrine, I think, and then the lamb. And the Cabernet Sauvignon, please.’

An expensive dinner for one. But you’ve earned it. Up at six. Fifty lengths in the pool. Shower. An hour’s work. Breakfast. A serious morning’s planning. An hour’s walk in the hotel gardens – and more planning in the afternoon.

The same again tomorrow and all your plans for 2015 will be done. You’ll know exactly what you want to achieve, what steps you need to take and when you need to take them. Possibly your most profitable two days of the year…


‘That client’s on the phone.’

‘Which client?’

‘ … ’

‘Oh. That client. He might just work out the connection between an invoice and a cheque before he rings. Again.’

‘I’m sorry. He’s really insistent.’

And for the fifth time that day you push your planning for next year to one side and deal with an interruption. Maybe tomorrow will be different. Or next week. Or next year…

As you know, I’m a huge advocate of taking some time out in 2014 to make your plans for 2015: to really think through where your business is going and what you want to achieve. As the old Michael Gerber saying has it, two days when you’re working on your business, not in your business.

When should you do it? November looks like a good time to me. December is simply too full of Christmas and the last minute rush to get things done before your suppliers and/or customers have the now-mandatory three week shutdown.

The big question for me is where? Do you set a couple of days aside and try and do the planning in your office – or do you take yourself away so you’re not disturbed? Make no mistake, this is an important two days’ work – maybe as important as any two days you have in the year.

Hang on, you cry. Two days out of the office? In a hotel? That’s going to cost at least £200. Yes, it is. But I’m not even going to try and present a balanced case – for me, being out of the office wins hands down. The key things are time, space and peace and quiet. And somewhere that takes you out of the normal run of the mill. It’s much easier to think outside the box if you are outside the box.

A quick search on throws up two nights at The Durham Ox in Crayke for £240. My favourite hotel if I want some ‘me’ time is Rudding Park – and it’s absolutely ideal for a couple of days’ serious work. (No, I couldn’t resist going on the website and seeing what’s available for next week…)

I don’t want to turn this into a travel blog and I’m by no means suggesting the Ox and Rudding Park as the only worthwhile destinations in North Yorkshire. But I am making the point that you don’t have to be far away to be far enough away.

Then again, some people do want to be far away: “Yes, I’m working hard,” one of my clients said to me, “But it’s my reward to myself as well.” I can see her point: I’m developing a fascination with Iceland and the Northern Lights…

How to do the planning once you’re in the hotel is a subject for another post, but let me tell you how I start. I ask myself a very simple question: if I were sitting here one year today, what would need to have happened – personally and professionally – for me to be totally happy? And thereafter it’s simple – everything flows backwards. There’s another important point in that question: it’s personally and professionally, not the other way round.

Anyway, I’ll be doing my own planning over the next couple of weeks. 2015 promises to be an exciting – and potentially challenging – year. But whatever politics and the economy throw at you, two days of planning will put you in a far better position to meet those challenges – and will make a difference to your whole year.

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