June already. Lots of clients are examining how things are going right now as they start to prepare for holidays. One said that this year they will relax as they had achieved lots in the last year we have worked together. A good feeling. There is nothing clever about getting things done: Plan – Do – Review. It is a nice simple formula but a wow once it becomes a routine. So what could possibly go wrong?
We all know that failure to plan is planning to fail but sometimes there is so much work to do there is no time to plan it. Sometimes it is easier to avoid planning as it means confronting the full gamut of what needs to be done and then committing to it. It can be frightening and so we avoid it and muddle on. A few tips:
- A good plan makes the doing so much easier, it is worth the time taken to craft it. I like the word “craft” as it implies some thought about which option to take to skin this particular cat. It excludes the others and that works.
- There are two types of planning: projects and time. Don’t be so obsessed with the second that there is no time for the first. Project planning is the more important.
- Prioritise the projects. Then divide each one into bit sized chunks. Be realistic about how long each chunk will take AND how much time you need in between stages to collect more data etc. or even just to bask in the enjoyment of having completed a stage.
- Look at your life and schedule. Work out how to fit in the time for each chunk. Working on the project takes priority over the trivia we all have to do each day. Yes, it does! Trivia can become displacement activity very quickly.
- But do give yourself a realistic length of time each day to do the routine tasks: making phone calls and sending emails.
- Make your To Do list for tomorrow today, then you can start at a run.
- Get your To Do list properly organised and prioritised so it is not just What but When, most important first.
Plan what you need to do and then do it! The problem is that we do not always want to do what we have planned to do; then we find umpteen things to fill our time usually because they are less scary, less taxing or more interesting.
- Try doing the most difficult thing on your list first when you have most energy; then when it is done you will feel so good. Leaving it until later in the day, staring up at you from your To Do list just makes it more daunting.
- Work down the list – do not get side tracked.
- Do not add anything else to the list – once it is written consider it closed to any other items, the only thing that takes priority is a fire or a flood.
- Follow your plan
- Keep a note of the project’s process – then it will be easier to review.
Every human being hates reviewing. Probably because we are frightened of confronting what we see as our own failures as we know that our critical inner voice will have plenty to say. However, hiding behind the sofa achieves nothing. So let’s get it over with. We review to learn – the good things so we can enjoy them and do them again; and those we will not do again! Face up to the bad stuff – no beating yourself up just accept it was not your best work (and remember it may only be you who knows that). Work out what you will do differently next time.
A few tips:
- Create a celebration ceremony when everything goes right. In one organisation I know they literally put bunting up! And you also need a commiseration wake when things go wrong. Both of these let you deal with the emotions.
- Only when the emotion is gone face the results of your project and be honest about everything that you did. Sometimes this can be complex and takes a time but it can be the small things that were the difference between success and failure.
- So let’s talk failure – the person who makes no mistakes is the person who does nothing, the fool is the person who does not learn from mistakes. So failure is not just OK it is essential.
- Go through the job from start to finish and look at each part of it so that you can see what you did well and where you could improve. If you find it difficult to do on your own find someone to help.
- Next time you plan a similar project incorporate your learning.
None of this is original. You have heard it all before and any way why am I talking about it in June? Because if you adopt Plan – Do – Review for most of your stuff (let’s be real) you will get the right stuff done and so can take those two weeks’ holiday having a proper break rather than worrying about what you have not done or (worse still taking it with you). You will deserve it and no balls will drop out of the air. This is what you deserve. If this has been interesting, please share it. If you are thinking of working with a mentor, please chat with me about what you are hoping to achieve. I might be the right person for you or I can help you find someone who is. In the meantime, life is good; let’s live it to the full and be the best we can be.