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Develop Your Strategic Mindset and Deliver Results

Use these 3 Steps to Reach Your Goals

Use these 3 Steps to Reach Your Goals

Many performance management programs rely on goal setting as a core measurement for employee annual reach your goalsevaluations. At a strategic level this makes good sense. Get individual goals aligned with top-level institutional goals, and, in theory, better outcomes will be realized for customers and for the financial bottom line. However, many times, little consideration goes into really understanding if and how the front line employee will actually meet those goals. Yet, as employees, we are still obligated to accept and make every attempt to deliver goal-oriented outcomes.

A common dilemma is that we are all so busy, in these lean and mean times, finding time to shift focus from routine operational duties to goal oriented work is difficult. While there are numerous strategies that can be used to address this, one way is to force the time out of your regular schedule. The word force is intentionally used, since it will take the force of personal effort to follow the three steps discussed below. However, once followed, these three steps will dramatically improve your forward progress towards delivering on your goals.

If you are too busy to get your goals done, then use this simple, yet powerful technique. It only works if you use it. You can't dream about it, talk about it, think about it, wonder about it and expect things to magically change. You absolutely must use this simple technique if you want — and, I mean, REALLY want — to get things done.

There are only three must have steps for this technique to work.

  1. Block time off on your calendar.
  2. Break larger tasks and projects into smaller steps.
  3. Focus and complete a small step with each scheduled time block.

Here is a little more detail describing how to use this technique.

Use a calendar. If you don’t have one, get one. Google Calendar is free and easy to use. A paper calendar is also easy to use. Use a notebook — easy. There is no excuse to not get your hands on a calendar. In fact, you probably have an easy to use one right on your phone. It’s with you all the time.

Schedule time. Block off one half an hour in the morning and block off half an hour in the afternoon. Schedule these meetings with yourself on your calendar.  You will use this time to work on your goals.

Plan your meetings. After blocking off time on your calendar, assign yourself one or two specific things to do. Assign this work a few days in advance. Not too far out, but a few days. You will make progress on your goals by assigning a step or two for yourself to accomplish during each meeting.

Attend these meetings. If you put these important meetings on your calendar, then you must keep them. These two short daily meetings are valuable and crucial for your success -- they are the backbone of your ability to get to your goals. Use them and you will get the important things done that will allow you to get your goals completed.

Update your calendar. After each meeting, update your calendar. Make sure you have appropriate tasks scheduled for upcoming meetings. Again, just look out a few days.

Learn about time. Time is nothing if not used. Time is never wasted. If not used, it just passes by. If used or leveraged or taken advantage of, time is our friend. It is a resource. Look at time differently. Look at time in 15-minute blocks. Start to consider time this way. Think of these 15-minute blocks of time as a form of time currency. We will reference these blocks of time currency as Time Blocks — $TBs.

Consider what things cost. What does it cost to sit in an hour-long meeting? It costs $TB-4 — that’s four time blocks of time. What does a half hour meeting on your calendar cost? It costs $TB-2 — that’s two time blocks.

Invest your $TBs. Set those two meetings. Plan a half an hour at the beginning of the day and half an hour later in the afternoon. While this may not always be absolutely possible, it is generally possible. You will find it is more likely possible. Find a way to make it happen. Set up your meetings, keep your appointments, and use these appointments as opportunities for $TB investments.

Use the time blocks. During each of these meetings with yourself you must get two things done. Each thing should cost you $TB-1 — one time block. This seems daunting at first. Everything you have to do takes much more time, right? Well, not really, when you break things into smaller bits. You can easily break things you have to do into bits as small as 15 minutes. It can be done. You may need to push yourself at first, but with some practice, and some change to your thinking, you will be able to do it. (If you want to push harder, move your $TBs to ten minute blocks. Tough, but can be done.)

Do the math. The resources you have each week to invest in your goals are now amazing. Let's do the math. Doing this five days a week, two times a day, gives you at a minimum $TB-20 a week. That means, you can get 20 things done each week that move you towards completing your goals. One project might require more than one $TBs. That is fine. Spend time on that project one $TB at a time. One policy rewrite might cost $TB-6. Okay. Spend time on that policy one $TB at a time.

Focus and concentrate. Many of us do not get a lot done in 15 minutes. That is because we believe most things need more time than 15 minutes. So, we let 15 minutes go by without using it. This is because we believe it is generally not possible to get much done in 15 minutes. We think we need several hours to get something meaningful done. However, a block of time as short as ten or fifteen minutes is more than enough time to get one or two important things done. If you break your work steps into small steps, and focus and concentrate, you will be able to get a lot done in a short period of time. Each of us can get an amazing amount of things done, in a short period of time — maximize your 15-minute time blocks.

…I wrote this much in 15 minutes…

Act now. You can spend a lot of time resisting — which will result in your productivity being less than it could be. Productive people use their available time blocks right now — use that $TB-1, right here and now. Less productive people let time blocks go by and interrupt others saying they are too busy to get things done. Don’t be too busy; act now and use your time blocks now.

Track your work. This is not intuitive. Most people don't actually track their work in a meaningful way. To be productive you must track your work. This will let you know how you are doing spending your $TBs. Use your calendar or a notebook, or a piece of paper. Tracking can be simple or complex. Simple is best. Find a way that works for you. Keep track of what you did and how many $TBs you spent for each step towards your goal. Tracking allows you to report progress.

Report progress. Knowing where you are as you move towards reaching your goals makes reporting on progress easier. Progress reports also allow you to coordinate your efforts with others.

…I wrote and edited to this point in 15 minutes…

So, we started out with being about to get things done with three simple steps. And, this is true.

These three steps are:

  1. Block time off on your calendar.
  2. Break larger tasks and projects into smaller steps.
  3. Focus and complete a small step with each scheduled time block.

The other detail provided allows you to best apply these three steps.

Grab your calendar. Schedule some time. Break your goals into smaller steps. Keep your appointments.

Get some stuff done!

This will be the best investment you can ever make.

…Total investment for this note was approximately $TB-3, over four days…

About Philip Espinosa

Philip Espinosa partners with people to deliver value: People | Partnerships | Value serves as his tag line. As a strategic human resources leader, he believes that service starts with the customer. His book "Deliver Excellent Customer Service with a SNAP” helps others drive customer engagement using simple and consistent communication strategies. A second book titled "Focus On Your Success - 24 Simple Insights To Drive Daily Achievement" (ebook) helps working professionals view their daily choices through a different perspective. In addition to his writing, Philip works with strategic human capital initiatives and has delivered successful results over a career spanning more than 25 years.