Usually in the final weeks of the year, we get a small amount of down time to get away from the task-heavy work and get enough space to finally get some perspective. But after burying yourself in tasks for so long you wonder what kinds of things you should be working on to get that perspective so you know what to think about.
Well, this is the article for you.
Here are my five actions to take to get the perspective needed for success in 2016.
This is the most tangible deliverable in this list and it makes a nice transition from task mode to perspective mode -- and it helps capture your successes for 2015.
Most of us have had an annual review by now, or, have at least written the self-review for the manager to work through. There are good reasons to write your self-review, but one of the side benefits is that it forces you to think about your accomplishments for the year. Regardless of what your manager might think of the accomplishments...
And what are the main pieces of information that should go on your resume? Why, your accomplishments.
Now is the time to document those accomplishments on your resume, ensuring that they are captured with business successes, how you overcame adversity to achieve the accomplishment, and documented while the facts are best remembered.
The time to update your resume is now. Not when you need to go look for a job, but now when the accomplishments are fresh, documented, and how your achieved them is top of mind.
The question to answer here is this: What does your best day look like?
Each of those areas offers up a way to love your day.
Now, I've ignored this advice for like five years. And for those five years I've always wanted to write it down and then go and implement it to the best of my ability.
Because if you can't describe your ideal day, how can you try and work to get to that ideal day as many days as you can?
That includes work as well. There are always things about work that you hate. There are always things at work that, on reflection, you really like to do.
The challenge of knowing what you hate to do and what you like to do is figuring out how to do more of what you like to do and less of what you hate to do. But if you can't figure out what you like and what you hate, you won't be able to modify your day to do more of what you like to do.
For example, I really like having enough time to dig deep into an area and really understand the problem, what the steps are to solve it, ensure all the right people are on the right tasks, and get it planned out so you can do it. I like being organized at work.
I hate reacting to Every. Single. Thing. All. The. Time. Drives me crazy. So my challenge is how to block out enough time to figure out how to go about implementing things and staying away from the "reacting all day" to whatever is loudest.
Some days will be the latest and loudest. Figuring out how to minimize those days will go a long way to getting your work life from tolerable to enjoyable.
But if you don't know or understand what your ideal day looks like, you won't know what to work at.
I have a former coworker whose mantra was "have skills, will travel." I always thought that was a good mantra because it implied she had the skills needed and she'd work to use those skills.
Indeed, the key to being successful in any job -- or finding a new one -- is having the job skills necessary to do the work. If you can, you will likely succeed. If you don't, you probably won't succeed.
So what skills do you need to up your game with on the job? What about at home?
For example, on this site, I'm going to embark on doing some videos regarding resumes and resume building. I have done very few videos and I'm currently not very comfortable doing that.
I don't feel comfortable with the video setup, how you do the video with the right mix of planned points and conversational interactions with the camera, and then editing and publishing of the video. Especially from an efficiency viewpoint; it makes no sense to do a 15-minute video if it takes me three days to do the whole thing.
Successfully producing video is a skill. One has to practice it to learn it through doing and to get better at it as well. That requires some thought to the approach, effort to do the work, and then understand what's next to get better. And doing it over and over again makes you better and better and implementing the skill.
We all have areas to improve upon that will really help our work at work or our work at home.
Which skills will you get better at in 2016? And how will you do that?
For the entirety of 2015, I have totally sucked at tracking tasks and commitments. Just sucked. Paralyzed sucked in that I could stare at 100 emails and not know what to do with them. And, bursting through with processing them, sucked at then taking the good tasks built from them and actually doing the tasks.
But the truth is, all of us can improve some aspect of our task management system. We can get better at capturing. Or processing. Or, you know, doing the tasks. We could be better at knowing all of our commitments across all of our roles (how well are you doing as a spouse to your partner, for example?). And we can all improve in reviewing our tasks and commitments to make sure we stay current.
Now, I pretend to follow David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology and, to be fair, the methodology works. Just fine, thank you very much.
It's the human consistently implementing it, following it, and doing the work that's the problem.
Now is a great time to look at the tools you use to manage your tasks. Now is the time to see if what you're doing to manage your tasks even makes sense.
What can you do to improve your ability to track and keep your commitments?
And speaking of consistency...all of us -- well, okay, certainly me -- needs to be more consistent in everything.
Consistent in managing and working tasks. Consistency in publishing. Consistency in keeping commitments. Doing small things consistently makes big things happen.
So how can you be more consistent in how you implement your ideal day? How can you more consistently do your tasks? How can you more consistently keep your commitments?
Given the constantly changing world we live in -- work and play -- yields no easy answer for how we more consistently do what we need to do. Finding the answer to consistency, though, will pay off big in 2016.
Make the commitment to be consistent in what you do and figure out how to make that happen.
Personally, 2015 was full of major changes for me and Kate. Both of us went through the sale of the companies we worked for. Both of us had job changes during the year. Both of us significantly increased our commute. Both of us have had to adjust to a very different cultural environment at work. We busted out the back of the house and went through major construction that basically caused us to live in a job site since Labor Day. And eat out every single meal since then as well.
All of those life happens moments have resulted in a lot less posting here on Cube Rules. A lot less of getting done what I wanted to do here as well. But now all of that change is done, so the real question for me is: what to accomplish in 2016 and how to get it done? I'm going to use these five things to figure that out.
How about you?