On my drive back home from the holiday break, I had the opportunity to catch up on some podcasts, including one from one of my favorites, Tim Ferriss that taught me a new planning technique. I applied Tim’s unique approach to a New Year and found it helpful for my planning. Here it is:
- Schedule one hour on your calendar for this exercise. (I found it took me 30-45 mins.)
- Take a blank sheet of paper and draw a line in the center, from top to bottom. Write a “+” at the top of the left side, and a “-” at the top of the right side.
- Open your calendar and go week by week, reviewing all of your work and personal appointments and efforts. Ask yourself this question: What were the 20% of items/effort I spent that gave me 80% of my emotional satisfaction (pleasure, positivity, learning, etc.)? Write each of those items down in the left-hand column.
- Restart the same review, but this time ask what were the 20% of items that gave you 80% of emotional dissatisfaction (fatigue, frustration, negativity). Write each of these items down in the right-hand column.
- Once completed, review each of your columns for patterns–what were the characteristics, trends, patterns, that made the left-hand list give you satisfaction? What was it about the right-hand list that drained you?
Steps 1-5 completes the 80/20 analysis of your time and effort. I started to notice patterns almost immediately.
Positive (+) patterns:
- Engaged Audience
- Working on the Fly
Negative (-) patterns:
- Lack of leadership/drive/results
- Going through the motions
These patterns reminded me of the kind of work and personal time I enjoy: The sense of making an impact, whether for a client or with one of the Scouts in my Boy Scout troop; the energy and fun I have consulting real-time on challenges with clients and my team. It also was a wake-up call, showing me what has drained my energy and passion over the year—at times, feeling a sense of futility or a lack of commitment to drive change or results. From this, I’m asking myself, “How does this effort/client relate the positive or negative patterns?” If it leans towards the negative, what (if anything) can I do anything to pull it towards the positive?
What do you do with it now? You apply those lessons to this year: Consider how to say “no” or delegate those items that were on your right-side column and find ways to enhance your left-side patterns. Intentionally seek opportunities to work on those efforts that give you pleasure and satisfaction, and work to remove those that wear you down emotionally. In a year, when you complete this reflection, will you have found more of your time in the right or the left column? Own this year.