The first step to any project is clearly identifying the scope of the project. Specifying what your aims are as a closed project will help you to know when it is complete. However, you don’t need to drill down into the details as you’re outlining your project.
“Getting organized” is not specific enough. Equally, a list a mile long with specific instructions such as “Create 43 hanging folders, each labelled with 3.5 inch tabs with 20 point Arial font with the following labels… and filing all the loose paperwork into those folders, being sure to purge any utility bills older than…etc” is probably too much detail at the beginning of a project.
Here’s how to identify the scope of a project.
Choose an area to organize. It can be as small as a drawer in a bed side table, or a shelf in a closet. It could be as big as a whole room. (Again, “organize the whole house and the garage” is a bit too broad).
Imagine how you want the space to be at the end of your project, and make that your goal. You might want to specify that all horizontal surfaces are clear or with a certain number of decorative items remaining, or perhaps that all like objects are together, or that you only want one of each of the types of objects in the space. However you choose to state it, someone else should be able to come into the space and say, “Yes, you’ve done it!”
Know what you will do with the items that don’t belong in that space before you start. Dealing with these items should be part of your project – as long as they don’t expand the scope of your project. For example, you might need to move some items to the garage from the room you are organizing. If the new space is organized, then go ahead and put those things away. But if it’s not, it’s okay to put them in a holding place until you can organize them there. (See last week’s blog post about the domino effect
.) The point is to come back to the project you started, not to get distracted by another space.
One of the biggest concerns people have when they start an organizing project is where to start. We call it the domino effect.
There are some clothes in the home office that need to go to the bedroom closet, but the closet is stuffed, so we’d need to make some space in there to put the clothes away. There’s some sporting equipment in the closet that really should go in the garage, but there’s no room in the garage unless we put the bulk supplies in the pantry. But the pantry had a few boxes of paperwork that used to be for current paperwork, but that are now so stuffed that you can’t fit any more paperwork in there and the stuff in the boxes is kind of out of date and could either be recycled or archived in the home office, except there’s no room in the home office unless we take out the extra clothes that should be in the bedroom closet ….
It’s like a slide puzzle. And we want to do it with the fewest moves possible.
Start with making sure you have some space in the room you are working in. So purge (recycle, donate, return, sell) items you know can go. If you need instant gratification to give you some momentum, focus on large items you know you don’t want so you clear the biggest amount of space in a short amount of time.
Stay in one space. Resist the urge to start moving things in other areas. That way your effort will produce the biggest visible return.
Once you’ve cleared some space, you can use the space for one category that makes sense in that space. Sometimes that is nothing, and that’s okay.
To extrapolate, to start any overwhelming project, start with a small do-able piece. The start is the most important part. It’s easier to keep up momentum.
So you’ve got a big goal this year. Congratulations!
So, you’re in one of two places.
- You’re excited, you’ve already taken some action, things are rolling.
- You’re stopped. Suddenly you’re afraid of failing, overwhelmed, don’t know where to start. You’re about to decide that you didn’t really want that big goal anyway.
How do you go from being in category 2 into category 1?
Last week when you set your goals, you made them measurable. (How else can you know if you’ve achieved them or not?) Most goals have several actions that will lead to the successful outcome. We could put it like this:
Action1 + Action2 + Action3 = Result
For instance, perhaps you have a goal for a certain amount of income per month. Let’s take a simple example; a coach wants to make $40,000 per month. In order to do that, let’s say they need 32 clients a month. Their client load has 20 ongoing clients per month, so they need 12 new clients a month, or 3 a week. If their enrollment process (call/seminar/ lead generation) has a conversion rate of 25%, they need to speak to 48 new people a month to get those 12 new clients in a month.
So at this point, there are several possible strategies to meet the goal. Increase the client rate, increase the number of ongoing clients, increase their conversion rate, or increase the number of new people they are speaking to each month. Implementing any of these strategies will help to achieve the goal.
Change Action 1 + Change Action 2 + Change Action 3 = Change in Result
However, attempting to change everything at once will usually end in a worse result. It’s too much to focus on. So choose one strategy to work on at any given time. Determining the strategy that will have the biggest impact will give the coach the key metric to focus on.
In our example, since the coach is currently only speaking to 20 new people a month, they decide to focus on increasing the number of new people they speak to a month. So they track the number of new people they speak to and focus on increasing that number.
Which ever metrics you decide to track, make it easy to record the data and to retrieve reports as you progress towards your goal. If you need suggestions on what metrics are important, or how best to track them, give us a call.
Okay, so you set some new goals last week. Can you do them? Are they realistic? An important question to think about is do you have enough time and money to do what you want to do?
Here are some guidelines that will help with financial budgeting:
- Live within your means.
- Save first, spend afterward.
- Invest wisely – know how your dollars are being put to work – they might as well be doing something good in the world.
- Know how much you spend on necessities vs. discretionary items.
- Plan for everyday expenses and one-off expenses as well as allowing for unexpected expenses.
- Treat the numbers objectively. It’s better to pay off a high interest credit card first than a low interest one.
- If your expenses are higher than your income you have two options – reduce the amount you are spending and increase the amount you are earning.
- If you choose to carry debt, understand the consequences upfront.
- Use banking software (if available) to track your spending so you have an accurate picture of what you spend, not just a guesss
Right now you are looking at the whole year, but of course things can change. Reassess mid-year if needed, or if big changes happen in your life, such as a new job, raise, or large unexpected expense.
Feel free to adjust your goals as needed!
Once you have a vision for your company, giving you a long term view into the future, it’s time to set some goals, milestones and next action steps.
Let’s start by looking at how these all fit together. Think of your vision as the view of Earth from space. You see the whole thing, but without any details. Next, your goals, are like flying in a commercial airplane at 35,000 feet. You see the general lay of the land and still see the horizon, but still not many details. Your milestones are like flying in a two-seater plane at 10,000 feet. You just see the horizon, but most of your sight is filled with the features on the land. Your next action steps are at ground level. You’re very focused on the details, on what’s right in front of you.
So set goals with the vision in mind, set milestones with the goal in mind and set action steps with the milestone in mind.
What was the last thing you did that was worth remembering?
If you’re struggling to come up with something recent, perhaps it’s time to reconsider how you are going through life. Usually it takes some action on your part to make something memorable happen. So let’s start with this question, “What would I like to remember at the end of the year?” Now lets get to how to create goals to make that a reality.
If you feel overwhelmed looking at your life as a whole, use a wheel of life to look at different areas of your life and what to create in each area of life. Use the pdf as a guide. wheel-of-life-example-and-blank
Start with how things are now. Mark on the wheel how satisfied you are with how much time you are spending in each category. Notice that this can vary for each person. So for one person, spending time with family is very important. They spend about 30 hours a week with family, but still want more. They feel 85% satisfied with the time they are spending with family. Another person finds family time less important, so even though they only spend about 5 hours a week catching up with family, they are 100% happy with the time they spend with their family. So it’s not about how much time you spend in any one area, it’s how satisfied you are with that amount of time. Your aim is to be 100% happy with the amount of time you are spending in each of the categories.
A vision provides a road map for your company, gives it direction and purpose. For some people, their vision of their company is to make millions of dollars, and that’s it. They’re going to make money however they can. If that’s you, I’m not writing this for you. Or if it’s you and you’re interested in a different perspective, read on.
I believe each of us is destined to fulfill a certain role in life. It’s different for each person and we are probably only satisfied when we’ve discovered our role and are fulfilling that role. There are lots of books and courses one can use to help you on your journey to discovering what your purpose is. When you align your company’s vision with your personal vision, magic happens. It’s all a matter of perspective and satisfaction. And you can still make millions of dollars. Being clear about your vision for the company and having it aligned with your personal vision virtually eliminates procrastination. Having a powerful vision helps you get past the inevitable stumbling blocks along the way.
Email. A blessing and a curse. It’s a wonderful way to reach someone without having to play phone tag. It’s a wonderful way to deliver necessary information. And it’s also an easy way for other people to send you the information they want to send you. Work reports that don’t actually pertain to your work. Marketing from a store that you bought one thing from 3 years ago and you might go back to one day. Reply-alls from well-meaning individuals in a group email. And spam. Managing it all can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of your email.
1. Limit what comes in
It’s so easy to sign up for interesting and useful newsletters and subscriptions. Set up a separate email address for your newsletters and subscriptions that you can check on your schedule, not theirs. Be judicious about who you give your primary email address to. Use a spam service that automatically reduces the amount of spam you have coming into your inbox.
2. Segment the incoming mail
Use rules or filters to put incoming mail into pre-designated folders for the mail that you don’t have to respond to right away. Examples of this type of mail may be from professional groups that you belong to. Or perhaps you pay extra special attention to those groups and want to be able to see the moment a message comes in from one of those people. Separating their email automatically allows you to go straight to them.
It’s extraordinary how much of our lives are run by our habits. It’s our choice which actions we allow to become habits, although many habits are formed unconsciously. The trick to make life easier is to run supportive habits, rather than bad habits. Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit” has an excellent and easy to understand model of how habits are formed and operate. Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” talks about general strategies to live by in order to be effective. These books are all very good in theory, but how can we apply the theories to every day living?
Here are a few ideas in different areas of the house that have made my life easier over the years.
In the kitchen: I admit, the kitchen is not my favorite place to be. I go there because I have to eat and I have to feed my family. I don’t love pouring over recipes finding the next cool taste explosion. I don’t have a million little gadgets for shredding this and that or spiraling those, or whatever else they all do. I prefer to get to know a recipe well and then make it by approximation from memory, because when I do a new recipe, it takes me ages to read and do, read and do. I also hate cleaning up in the kitchen. My worst nightmare is when all the pots and pans have been used, they’re spread all around the kitchen, a dozen chopping boards are out, miscellaneous forks, spoons, knives that were used in the cooking process are sprinkled around. In short, it’s a disaster. It seems so overwhelming to have to clean up at the end of the day.