What got me thinking about this blog is on my return to work I looked at all the "outstanding projects" I had on my to do list. There was quite a few. Many of which are things that, in principle, clients have agreed to do, want to do and can see the benefits of but it is the final details we need to confirm or that first step we need to take to get the ball rolling. They have taken the time to meet me and discuss the project. They can appreciate and want the end result but haven't quite got it moving. From my point of view that is obviously frustrating but from theirs? Well, so far they have just wasted time talking about it. If you are reading this dear clients you know who you are ;-)
It is the same with projects within a business. How many meetings have you sat in where you have discussed a project, agreed it needs to happen then for many subsequent meetings it keeps getting pushed back because of more immediate needs? eventually it disappears off the agenda. Time wasted with the initial dicussion then with each "not got round to that yet" excuse to follow.
Many of the people we work with are so busy with the day to day operations they can't seem to lift their heads for long enough to look at the bigger picture, think more strategically and put some things in place to put a stop to this ever increasing workload and work rate. Sound familiar? What can you do? Well when I catch myself doing it these are my 3 steps to getting on with it.
1. What do you want to achieve?
Articulate clearly what it is you want to achieve. It is usually the long term goals or the less tangable ones that get pushed to one side. Old fashioned as it might sound make it SMART (specific measurable, agreed, realistic and time-bound). Understand what the benefits will be to achieving it and will the benefits outweigh the effort?
2. What is getting in the way?
By this I don't mean meetings, clients, emails, staff or any other "tasks" that keep you busy. I mean what is stopping you making this equally, if not more, important than all of the above?
Some common ones are:
- Can't say no? You are in charge and people just keep coming to you. You allow them to hijack your time, deal with them at the expense of other work. If this is you then why not create a meeting for yourself. Book a room, book it out in your diary and stick to the fact you cannot be interrupted. If you were in a meeting with a customer about to sign a huge new deal would they barge in? You allow them to do it, you can stop it happening.
- Just not interested? Sometimes you just dont really want to get involved so find work which is much more interesting to you than what really needs doing. It might be that you don't believe the benefits are worth the effort.
- Perfectionist? OK so there is no such thing as perfect and those of you who spend your lives chasing it, and as a consequence believe no one can do something as well as you would, are doing yourself no favours. Other people will find other ways of doing things that may not be how you would do it but will suffice. Learn to delegate, and learn to do it well.
- Procrastinator? Can't quite decide? What if.....? Well what happens if not? Doing nothing is worse than doing something. We all make mistakes. We have to make mistakes to learn. I have never come across one that can't be rectified just give it a go. Acknowledge when you are doing it. Write down your pros and cons, tally them up and then go for it.
- Dont know how? You know what you want to happen but it seems so far away you don't know how to get there? Make sure it is SMART then break it down. What would half way to this goal look like? What would the first step look like? Get some help from someone who can do it. We are all different and all have different strengths, make the most of that.
3. Make it happen.
What motivates you? Are you competative? Do you like to be in charge? Do you like to be recognised for your ahcievements? Do you just like to do a good job? is it the money? Working out what motivates you can help you get things done.
If you create consequences and rewards for yourself, or others, in line with what motivates you personally you are much more likely to get it done. I am competative, I need a deadline and a challenge so I get my business partner to make me commit to things. Without a deadline I know I am unlikely to do it. If I don't sense a little failiure in not completing it then again I won't do it.
It is usually the lack of consequences that means things don't get done so put a spotlight on some of these objectives and they are more likely to happen. Make them crucial and make people, and yourself, accountable.
Once you have set the goal, articulated it in a way which will motivate you and understand the rewards and conswquences then do something everyday towards achieving it. It doesnt have to be a big, time consuming thing. The small steps will add up. Choose the time you do it carefully. I make mine the first job of the day.
Remember what your end goal is.
I appreciate it is easy for me to say all this and making it happen is all the more difficult. Do get in touch if you need help with any of the steps. We are all different so will have different things getting in the way different ways to get on with things.