Have you ever tried to plan something and just gotten completely overwhelmed? Today, I'm going to give you my PAT formula for planning anything—along with the one tool I use to make any planning process dead simple.
I’ll dig into the details of the PAT formula in just a minute. But first, the thing I love the most about the PAT formula is it’s applicable to just about anything you might be planning. Maybe you’re building a business, or writing a book. Maybe you’re creating something smaller, like a podcast episode or a blog post. Or maybe you're planning an event, like a party or a vacation. It could even be something as big as a wedding.
Whatever it is, planning it the right way is really important. Smart planning helps ensure that your event or book comes out great, by providing a clear roadmap to completion. The problem lies in the way our brains work. You see, our brains do a really good job of coming up with a bunch of ideas, but a terrible job of organizing them. And as a result, we get overwhelmed.
That’s what the PAT formula is designed to avoid, so let’s talk about it now.
My Simple Three-Step Formula to Plan Anything
So what is this magic formula that helps you avoid the overwhelm? It involves three steps:
Step 1: Post-it notes
Step 2: Arranging those Post-it notes
Step 3: Taking it and making it
Let’s talk about each step!
Step 1: Post-it Notes
First up is P, which stands for Post-it notes. Post-it notes are my secret to success. I use them to plan almost everything I do. The reason they're so great is because they let you take all the ideas in your head—the ones that are overwhelming you—and put them onto individual notes, where you can see them all in front of you. And when you can see it, you can deal with it! The size of a Post-it note is also perfect, because each note basically only has enough room for one idea. And because they're sticky, you can post them on your wall or desk to arrange them and make sense of your ideas.
So, whatever it is you're planning, the first step is to write down each idea you have on a single Post-it note, and then post that note on your wall or desk. This is the first step in a process called mind-mapping.
Step 2: Arrange
At first, your Post-it notes are probably going to look like a giant mess, and that’s completely fine! That’s why step two of this strategy is A, to arrange. Now that you can see everything, you can deal with it. In this step, you start to organize your notes into clusters. You can also remove ones that don't belong. These clusters then become the different parts of your vacation, or the chapters of your book, or the sections of your online course.
And then to take it one step further, you’ll take these clusters and give them an order. So within each book chapter, for example, you’ll organize the notes according to different ideas or sections in that chapter. It’s in the second step that you start to make sense of everything. This step is where things get really cool, because now this big project or trip or event you previously had as just a big mess in your head can now start to take shape.
Step 3: Take It and Make It
The third part of this strategy is the T, which is to take it and make it. When you’re ready to work on the project you’ve just outlined, you pick just one idea from one Post-it note, and focus on making it happen. You take it . . . and then you make it. So if you're writing a book, for example, you take one idea from one chapter, and that's all you work on writing first. Then when you're done, you move it aside and focus on the next one. Or maybe you're planning a party. You know you’ll need some sort of entertainment, so you pull out the “entertainment” Post-it note and start brainstorming some potential options.
The PAT Formula in Action: Writing the Perfect Blog Post
If you want to see the PAT formula in action, check out the video below, which is all about how to write the perfect blog post.
The first thing I talk about in the video is to get clear about the topic and purpose of the post you’re about to write. One way to think about it is this: what’s the transformation you want people to undergo after reading the post?
Once you’ve identified that transformation, and therefore what you want to write about, that’s when the PAT method kicks into action. The last thing you want to do after you start writing is to say, “Okay, where do I want to go with this?” or “What's next?” You want to have an outline in place beforehand. The transformation is kind of like the address you put in the navigation system in your car. It’s the end goal. The outline is the directions to get there, and you’re not going to get to your destination without them.
So, with that transformation in mind, you can use the PAT formula to work backward and create an outline for your blog post using Post-it notes. The first step is to take all the ideas in your head related to that transformation and put each of them onto a Post-It note. What case studies can you mention? What stories can you tell that will lead people toward this transformation? What supporting points do you need to make?
From there, you can organize all these ideas to create your outline, then take that outline and make your blog post!
Of course, writing a blog post is just one example of how you can put the PAT formula to work for you. As I mentioned earlier, the beauty of the the PAT formula is it can be used in so many different ways.
Before we end things today, let’s quickly recap the PAT formula:
- First, brain dump using Post-it notes;
- Then arrange the Post-it notes into groups;
- And finally, take them and make the thing.
Now, you might be tempted to do this process without Post-it notes—and it can be done—but there’s a lot to be said for having one idea on each Post-it note that you can move around and adjust as needed.
I hope you get a lot of value out of the PAT formula, because it was really a huge game changer for me! It saved me a lot of time, headache, and overwhelm, and I know it can do the same for you. So tell me what you're planning next. I'd love to know. Best of luck!