Plan, plan and plan again

Planning is a very critical skill. There is a myth that long range planning is applicable to organizations only. Whether it is an individual, a society or an organization, planning is an essential part of development. By failing to plan, you are only planning to fail! The longer you plan the shorter time you will require to execute the work.

You can draw a parallel from a golf player. If you observe him you will notice that so much thinking takes place before executing a shot.

Plan your year and have at least one high pay off task for each year. After planning for a year, decide how you should spend the next six months. Once you are clear about the next six months plan, you will become clear as to what your next week’s priorities should be. This process will bring clarity into your daily activities and you will become much focused.

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Do you have a strategy?

Many of us have objectives, aims, goals and aspirations in life. At some point of time or other, we also think of how to realize our goals. Some goals are realized and some are not. Whenever we reach our goal we are happy. When do not, we either say that we ‘failed’, or that ‘we are not lucky’. We need to list the number things we once wanted to achieve and how many of them we actually realized and this ratio is a very important criterion for success.

One important requirement for success is whether we have the right strategy to support our goal. Strategy means putting things in place carefully. The other way is to just wait and expect things to ‘happen’. Things will not just happen, and if happens, it may not be as how we expected to happen. We need to understand that in the world around us many events are going to happen and are happening. The only thing we need to consider is whether what is happening is what we intended to happen.

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Competitive intelligence

Your activities cannot take the same amount of time it took sometime back. You need to innovate constantly and find out how to do the same thing in a different, but more effective way. We need to believe that work and time are not directly proportional.

More work need not mean more time. This is possible only by being flexible in the process of our working. We should be focused on our goal and be flexible in our approach to reach the same. This is possible only if we are willing to trim, compress, simplify and improve our approach.

Recently, I came across an interesting skill called ‘competitive intelligence’. In simple terms it means collecting intelligence from our competitors to know how they are better than us in what they are doing and applying the same to our work.

You should watch others performing and notice in what way their approach is better than yours. If you are a trainer, watch how others are training. If you are a sportsman, watch how others are playing your game. Take the best processes from others and then apply the same to your job.

Keep an open mind to learn from others. Consider the whole world as a large university where you can learn a lot from others.

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Offer to meet people in their place

Very often you would have experienced a situation where the drop-in visitor is not leaving the place even after the purpose of the visit is over. One of the embarrassing things to do is to ask a person to leave your place. Owing to power and other equations you may find it difficult to ask people to leave your room. At the same time, you may not be able to concentrate on your work.

Whenever you have to meet a person, meet him in his seat rather than in your seat. Whenever somebody says he will come to meet you, offer that you will go to his seat. This will give you an option to meet you, offer that you will go to his seat. This will give you an option to get back to your seat after the meeting is over. When an outsider wants to meet you, consider whether you can have the meetings in a common place such as mini-conference room.

Remember that time management has to be combined with tact and in trying to save your time you should not land up making enemies. Enemies are not born, but made and developed.

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Capacity, Effort, Time and Result

Our available time should produce quantifiable results. The effectiveness of a person depends on whether he is taking the efforts required to reach the expected outcome. The available time should be invested in pursuing relevant activities relentlessly. Depending upon how big the goal is, the amount of effort may be more or less.

However, we should not ignore a very important critical factor called the ‘capacity’. Capacity can be defined as our potential to create a pre determined result. Each of us has a specific capacity. Our capacity depends upon various factors such as education, knowledge, skill, genetic factors, resources, etc. When we decide on our goals and objectives, we should be conscious about our capacity. Our capacity will decide our limitations. If we do not have the capacity, we may not succeed whatever may be our effort level.

Time management means taking adequate efforts taking into account all the above factors. Just by increasing the number of hours alone will not make a difference if there is a capacity constraint. If we have the right capacity and work hard following a set pattern of systematic activity, then our time will produce the result we desire. If we have the capacity and we do not put in the requisite effort, then we will lose our position to our competition.

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Ambition and drive

In order to come up in life we need two things: ambition and drive.

Ambition is the goal that we set for ourselves to achieve. Goals can be long term and short term. They can even be weekly tasks such as reading a book, completing an assignment, etc. Goals give us the direction in life and they are the benchmarks with which we calibrate where we are and where we want to be. If we fix our goals ourselves, we are committed and involved and we accept the same.

Drive is the energy that we display in working towards our goal. If we have more drive, we work hard. If we have less drive, we given up. The volume of work that we put in will be decided by the intensity of our drive towards our goal.

If we understand this subtle difference, we will appreciate why we don’t do what we should be doing and why we give up at the slightest provocation. If we have the drive we take the obstacles and interruptions as challenges and we feel excited. If we do not have the drive, interruptions and obstacles puts us off.

Ambition decides the destination. Drive decides the speed.

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Counter interruption

Interruptions fragment our time. In between interruptions, we get only few minutes to concentrate on our work. It takes more time to bring our attention back to our job on hand. This irritates us.

However, we need to understand that a perfectly normal day is a day full of interruptions and it is unrealistic to expect that we should not be interrupted at all. If we are not interrupted at all, perhaps, it may mean that we are not required at all by any one! We need to develop a passion for the job we have on hand so that any amount of interruption does not put us off, but only encourages us to challenge interruptions.

We need a strategy to deal with interruptions. The first and foremost step is to know the nature of our interruptions by logging our various activities meticulously for a period of time so that we have data to work on counter measures. Analyze the various types of interruptions that you encounter and study them.

If you think carefully, you can come out with innovative ideas to manage interruptions.

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Let every day be your masterpiece!

One of the characteristics of successful people is their mindset to do everything they undertake well. In some people I have seen that it is almost an obsession to do it so well that no one can do better than what they have done. This mindset gives them the necessary drive to better their performance by constantly reviewing what they have done.

One of the leading surgeon I know used to say that every time he enters the operation theatre, he will go with the mindset that perhaps it is the last time he is going to do the operation and very time he comes out of the operation theatre, he will come out deeply thinking in what way he could have done the operation even better.

Wanting to do everything well is more than a quality or skill. It is an attitude of mind. The alternative to this is attempting to do a thing half-heartedly. The problem in this alternative is time consuming and waste of time.

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Is your work quality enough?

The world is changing very fast and what was ok yesterday is not adequate today. Expectations are going up. Lot of products and services are becoming obsolete day by day. The purpose of one’s time is to add value to others and the more value that you add, the more valuable you become!

However, we may not be aware of the changes in the expectations of others with reference to our quality of output, until one day we are told that our services are not required anymore. The value of our time is not decided by us, but by those who receive our services.

It makes a lot of sense to check periodically if others continue to value our time and services the same way they did some time back. Possibly changes would have taken place in their expectations or there could have been a deterioration in our work quality without our awareness or someone else may have come up to offer a better quality of service.

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Simultaneously compatible and sequentially possible

Life is full of choices and the quality of your life depends upon the type of choices you make. Many are confused about deciding what to do and at what point of time. The quality of your life will depend on the priority that you set.

There are certain activities which are simultaneously incompatible. For example, you cannot be in a job and have free time at the same time. These two are simultaneously incompatible activities. Similarly you cannot be sleeping in the early morning and at the same time doing exercises.

There are certain jobs which are sequentially dependent upon one another. For example, earning money and buying a house are activities which are sequentially contingent upon each other. You cannot have a house without money and you cannot have the money without working. Many people complain that they are not able to succeed in their life. When they are questioned whether they made sufficient efforts, most of them reply that they did not.

Today make a list of things that you do which are simultaneously incompatible and another list of things which are sequentially dependent upon each other. If your activities are simultaneously incompatible you have no other alternatives but to choose the type of activity to which you should give priority. If the activities are sequentially dependent upon one another, you have no other alternatives but to stretch yourself and take them up. No amount of excuses is going to help you.

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