Many clients come to me with the story of how they are struggling because they can’t get it all done, even though many of them have staff or subcontracted services in place. Not only isn’t the business moving forward as desired, but they are feeling overwhelmed, out of control and frustrated because their business isn’t performing; and neither are they. They feel stuck; up against a brick wall.
Sound familiar? Then listen up. There are actions you can take that will greatly improve your accountability and productivity, and consequently, that of your business. More importantly, there are simple tools you can use to help you provide structure and focus to your actions, so your efforts produce more of what you want.
Here are four ways you can boost your accountability and productivity.
1 – Have a Plan
If you have a plan in your head, it’s much too abstract to be of help when decisions need to be made. Part of the value of a Plan is thinking through the steps; determining how you’re going to get the Results you want and documenting it. When created in a simple, easy to use format a Plan provides an excellent framework for Actions and Results. The Plan I use and recommend is called the Short Term Action Plan, which is a key tool in my Business Success System. You can learn more about it at http://primestrategies.com/business-success-system.
NOTE: I capitalize some terms in this article because they are key elements of the Business Success System.
2 – Take Strategic Action
The Short Term Action Plan includes up to 3 Priorities with Strategic Actions and a specific timeframe for each. Part of your Plan should include developing a Strategy and Planned Actions. This keeps everything going the same direction and allows you to increase the percentage of time you can spend on goal-directed Actions. To give yourself this time, delegate more, block time (and space) to accomplish tasks, reduce web-surfing, segment e-mail time and defer as much as possible anything that isn’t taking you toward your Goals.
One of the keys to successful Strategic Action is setting a realistic timeframe for completion. This is true for annual, quarterly and weekly Goals. Use your one year Goals, to decide on next quarter’s Goals, which should be taking you in the direction of your one year Goals. Then use the quarter’s Goals as a reference for creating weekly Goals.
Annual > Quarterly > Weekly
It’s on a weekly basis that progress is made, and the feeling of success starts to be experienced as you’re able to check off small Goal after small Goal, all leading to the bigger Goals.
3 – Use Simple Tools
There are two tools I’ve created and share with my clients. One is the Short Term Action Plan, designed to be a blueprint for your actions over the next quarter. By taking the time to select up to 3 Priorities that you’d like to address within the next 90 days you will know where the major portion of your time will be spent. With a Plan in place most decisions will already be made, thus saving the time you’d likely waste if you had to think about each decision as it comes up.
But my Goal Tracking Worksheet (GTW) is the tool that really helps you make the difference. It’s designed to be used on a weekly basis. Your quarterly Short Term Action Plan is the reference for deciding Actions on a weekly basis. Each week you schedule one hour to review your past week and plan for next week. But this time you have a tool to help you. The GTW is another one page structure that guides you in setting weekly Goals, planning Actions, then assessing Results of the week’s Actions at the end of the week, and making Adjustments for moving forward into the next week.
4 – Carry Out Your Plan and Assess the Results
This is the real secret to reaching your Goals with less effort. You’ll dramatically improve your personal productivity when you’re focused on tasks that are taking you closer to your overall Goals. But making plans and setting goals without a way to be accountable won’t make it happen. The key is to assess at the end of each week What’s Working and What’s Not Working. This will prepare you to make critical decisions about the next week’s Goals and Actions.
Weekly Goals > Planned Actions > Action Taken > What’s Working > What’s Not Working > Adjustments (for next week)
Another secret is making sure you put your planned Actions into your weekly calendar. If it will take two hours to write a marketing piece, block those two hours on a specific day and time during the week. If an emergency forces you to forgo the time, reschedule it right away. If you don’t the week will be gone and it won’t be done. You know how that goes.
Using these tools is sort of like corralling wild horses. Once you put your thoughts, ideas and decisions inside a fence, they can all be managed.
It might seem like this adds work rather than reducing it. Yes, you’re adding one hour per week to set up and assess your GTW, but you’re gaining the time during the week you’d probably be wasting on things that aren’t Priority. Spend focused time on your Priorities and soon you’ll start to see how much you can actually accomplish in a week. Then you won’t want to be without it.