Get Back On Track!

The Journey Three things every day  

As schools reopen, fall is also a good time to get back on track with professional development. If it’s difficult to think beyond your growing to-do list, Certified Organizational Business Coach, Shannon Cassidy, offers some ideas on how to stay focused on what is important in “Three Things Every Day.”

We work in a wonderfully chaotic business. The Cable and Telecommunications field is known for its fast pace and constant change, where high expectations make decisive action essential. How do you decide what to do first?

The decision itself is the key. Peak performance is determined by the combination of decisions that we make each day. We feel either satisfied or frustrated, depending on the quality of our decision-making. The sum of these decisions equals our performance that day. It’s not enough to know that we have a lot to do. We need to create a way to stay focused on what is important.

Each morning, before you walk into your office building, ask yourself three questions:
1. What is important about today?
2. What is important for my future?
3. What must get done today?

Asking yourself ‘What is important about today?’ will allow you to make the time to do whatever it is: plan for an important meeting or negotiation; register for a professional development opportunity, make a phone call that will move a project along; schedule a networking meeting; meet with a your team to discuss systems changes; leave early to connect with family or friends. Thinking about and answering this question will provide the focus needed to complete things that are priorities, regardless of distractions or interruptions. Pick three realistic goals.

What if there are so many important things that you can t possibly choose just three? Answer question number two: What is important about my future? We all get caught up in fire drills, interruptions, and distractions. Honestly consider if those things are going to add up to something that is important for your future. Emergencies happen and need to be handled - when and how you handle them are the questions. If you weren’t around, what would happen? Who else could handle your calls if you didn’t answer them? Protect and treasure your time like it s the most valuable thing you have – because it is.

Time is the common denominator in our lives we all have the same amount of hours in every day. What you do with those hours is what counts. As previously mentioned, the collection of decisions that we make each day equals our performance. Be mindful, intentional, and strategic about the decisions, big and small, that you make each day.

Right now, for instance, you re reading this article instead of doing something else. It is a choice. The deciding factor while making a choice is this - is it important for your future? Create a plan for the future and live that plan!

Lastly, ask what must I get done today? Pick three things. Be realistic. Don t overshoot your goals but don t undershoot them either. For example, completely solving a complicated employee issue may not be realistic in one day. The goal could be that you will think about your options for resolving the issue, schedule a meeting, and clearly explain the purpose of the meeting. This is a step in the right direction.

Undershooting would be to put off doing anything until some other time.
First: Pick three realistic goals that serve what is important to you and your future. The example suggests that the issue with one of your employees is important to you, and not solving it will negatively affect your future as a manager and leader.

Second: Generate conviction that these things will be complete today. They are important for your future. Be true to yourself. Schedule the time and get them done.

Third: Take action. Don t mistake busyness for action. There is a difference. Action is intentional, purposeful energy directed at achieving a specific goal. Taking action is the only way to get results in your life.

Go out there, pick three goals, believe you can do it and take action. Make today a peak performance day that you’re proud of!

Shannon Cassidy is founder and Executive Director of bridge between, inc.. Specializing in behavioral change and communication Shannon helps clients achieve their greatest leadership and career potential. Shannon is a graduate of WICT’s Betsy Magness Leadership Institute (Class 18), launched the WICT Philadelphia Executive Women's Leadership series  and has presented at CTAM Philadelphia and NAMIC national conferences.

 Mentoring Corner

For the Mentor: Program Encourages Mentoring by E-mail, Brad Durrell

Mentors may want to consider introducing the idea of mentoring by email, because doing so offers more time flexibility for participants.

For the Mentee: In Lean Corporate Times, Take Charge of Own Training
Minneapolis Star Tribune

When choosing a mentor, be prepared to explain the role you want her to play. If she is unable to fulfill that role, keep looking until you find the right fit.

 WICT Buzz

Most Companies Maintaining or Increasing Professional Development

Source: Accountemps 2009

Accountemps found that most of the nation’s 1,000 largest companies are not all scaling back on professional development. 28% indicated that their firms have increased training initiatives, 27% scaled back and 45% reported no change.

 WICT 30: 30 Ways to Get Back on Track

If you have lost sight of your goals and your energy is dispersed in too many directions, here are 30 ways to gain clarity and to get back on track.

1. SWOT yourself. Review your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities (within your company, your market, your operational focus and your industry) and threats.

2. Identify your goals. Determine short term and long term SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) goals.

3. Recognize your gifts. Leveraging your competencies will differentiate your professional brand and infuse your work with your own unique approach.

4. Upgrade your skill set. Attend WICT and other industry seminars, take part in a webinar or leverage other vehicles upgrade your career tool box just as you upgrade your technology.

5. Invest in your career journey. Commit your resources (your time, energy, creativity and everything at your disposal) along with those available from your company, your WICT Chapter and your industry needed to achieve your goals.

6. 80/20 Rule: The 80/20 rule suggests that most results come from a small portion of effort, and that most of our energy is spent on things that aren’t ultimately all that important. Focus on what matters.

7. Start with the most important things. Each day, identify the three or four most important things that must get done and do them first. 

8. De-Brief Yourself. After every call, meeting, project, training opportunity, make a few notes about how it went, what you would have done differently, what you learned, etc.

9. Make Use of Down Time. Keep a list of small, 5-minute tasks and make use of your down time before meetings, during flights, sitting in traffic, etc.

10. Make incremental progress. Set aside time every day or week to move your big projects incrementally forward.

11. Set Benchmarks. Your benchmark is your minimum acceptable result. Set both to recognize progress even if you fall a little short of the goal you want to achieve.

12. Select your company. Surrounding yourself with positive people who support your success will add to your energy rather than deplete it.

13. Write down your goals. Writing down your plans makes them concrete, and it’s more likely you will attain them.

14. Write down everything else. Don’t rely on your memory, write down everything you might need to refer to so you won’t forget. 

15. Make it easy. It can be challenging working toward large goals. Make it easier by removing barriers. Eliminate anything that provides you an excuse to avoid working towards your goals.

16. Know Yourself. Become aware of the triggers that motivate you (embrace them) and those that set you back (avoid them).

17. Simplify the big goals. Break down large goals into smaller, individual steps that are easier to accomplish.

18. Unclutter. Organize your work areas so that you can easily access what you need, when you need it, without breaking the flow of your work to find it.

19. Take stock. Identify the tools you need to keep on track toward your goal: a particular space, filing strategy, blackberry, computer, e-mail box, voice recorder, etc.

20. Keep a Successes File. File notes and emails congratulating or thanking you for your successes and jobs well done as a reminder that you can (and do!) accomplish something every day.

21. Make an Appointment with Yourself. Schedule a meeting with yourself every week to review your progress towards your goals and your next steps.

22. Get 8 hours. Sleep is essential to achieving your goals. Get at least 8 hours a night.

23. Visualize. In as much detail as possible, visualize yourself having accomplished your goals.  What does it feel and look like? Next, visualize yourself taking the steps you need to take to get there. 

24. Become a Time Manager. Be accountable to yourself and keep track of how much time you spend working towards your goals.

25. Just say No. Learn to say “no” to commitments, interruptions or anything that deters your focus from your priorities and goals.

26. Mirror Mentors. Ask your mentors how they accomplished their goals and you may discover habits, tricks and tools that you can apply to reaching your goals.

27. Go Backwards. Stuck at an impasse? Start with your end goal and work backwards, identifying the final step you have to accomplish to reach it. Continue to move backwards until you reach something you have already accomplished.

28. Make a To-Don’t List. Become aware of habits that lead you to become unproductive (hallway chats that never seem to end), and make a list of those things not to do.

29. Consider a partner. Partner with a colleague who is also working towards a goal, and help each other focus and build momentum from each other’s successes.

30. Find the fun. If you are working on a difficult or distasteful task, find some aspect to enjoy. For example, if you dislike organizing your work area, play your favorite music while you are doing it.