As ever, at this time of year, minds turn to the new one, to resolutions, goals, and the shimmering light of dreams at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve written quite a few times about the value (or otherwise) of resolutions and so on:
Never mind resolutions, what one thing could you do…?
Resolutions, goals, happiness and engagement
Keeping to your resolutions
From a leadership development angle, it’s pretty clearly demonstrated that reflective practice is what distinguishes those who do from the rest. Check out my guide:
Guide: Ten ways to get ahead in senior management
Some time ago, almost every employee of Exxon was sent on a time-management course run by TMI. One of my colleagues, at the time, described it as a ‘thinly disguised sales pitch for a fancy diary’. While the kit is certainly expensive, and the approach seemed a little dogmatic with little science to back up its assumptions about human behaviour, it did introduce us to a useful way of looking at our use of time. The GTD system, based on the book by David Allen offers a similar theme.
Fundamentally, their argument is that most of us use our time reactively. We respond to demands on us, and even if we think we’re planning ahead, what we are usually doing is simply anticipating those demands. What these systems suggest is that we should begin less with our time and more with the outputs we hope to achieve. Only once we’ve understood these and (mentally, at least) drawn up a plan of action, are we ready to commit our time to doing things.
The tools that you choose to use for this will vary enormously. Personally, I’m a mind-mapping fan – or, at least, my interpretation of it – one page concept diagrams. Others prefer structured task lists and so on.
Whether you are working in an existing role (the-confidant.info) or looking for a new job (executive-post.info), being focused in this way, at least on some of your goals, makes sense.
Quite understandably, IT dominates our world these days, and although there are sufficient die-hards to keep the major stationers in business, some have fallen by the wayside. A paper diary is SO inflexible and requires SO much more effort to keep up to date in today’s fast-moving corporate world. Whether the tool of choice is Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, or Mozilla Thunderbird or one of a host of less widely known systems, they are great for coping with demands on a quickly changing basis. But that is reactive.
Companies often used to use A2 wall charts – “annual planners” – to display projects and the important processes along the way to their delivery. They still do. But at the individual level, without a paper version, very few of the online diary management tools offers anything to allow you to systematically plan ahead for a particular project.
Give it some thought… are you sure that there aren’t some personal goals or projects that would benefit from a more systematic approach to planning?
Well, to come to your rescue… here’s my New Year’s present to you… a downloadable annual planner for 2013. It’s in PDF and .xls format, and can be printed to whatever size you like. If your home printer can only cope with A4, then you’ll usually find a high street print-shop willing to run one off much larger for only a quid or two:
YEAR PLANNER 2013.xls
YEAR PLANNER 2013.pdf
executive-post.info – Practical help for executive job hunters
the-confidant.info – Helping leaders see situations, organisations, themselves and others, differently
first-aid-course.info – Creating a new generation of caring and confident first aider