Quarter four is upon us. The goals that were set back in January should be revisited now to avoid unfortunate end of year surprises. Be flexible. Some of the goals identified in January may not be such a priority now, whereas others may be more urgent. Now is the time to prioritize, determine what needs to done, and what cannot practically be achieved in the remaining fourth quarter.
What Steps Should be Taken When Analyzing Goals?
The first step is to list critical tasks. Next, list lower priority items that you would like to accomplish given time. Be realistic in terms of time and resources. Various methods can hasten critical task completion.
Julian Birkinshaw and Jordan Cohen of the Harvard Business Review found that individuals tend to cling to tasks that could be handled by others, freeing up valuable time. A study of 15 executives showed that they reduced their work by six hours a week by delegating low-value tasks. According to Birkinshaw and Cohen, individuals resist delegating tasks because it requires organization, training, and there is a learning curve. However, once the investment is made, the benefits are rapidly realized.
- Eliminate unnecessary tasks.
Birkinshaw and Cohen suggest eliminating meetings except those required to make a final Ban PowerPoint presentations in meetings. If there are projects that require focus time, encourage communication via social media. Staff information can be posted to a website, or feedback on an issue can be requested and delivered online. Creative ways can be found to save time. Such measures may prove so popular that they are adopted on a permanent basis.
- Plan personal time.
Temporarily eliminate daily activities that are not essential, or reduce the frequency so that the same task is done only once or twice a week. Switching tasks less often can save substantial time and effort. For example, file documents once a week instead of every other day, or delegate the task to a specific person.
Offloading tasks and freeing up valuable time may require an upfront investment in terms of thought and organization. However, the time will be recouped later, you will accomplish a greater number of goals for 2014, and you may develop new habits and routines that work better.
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