It’s December 18th, and Christmas is a mere week away. I am rushing around like a crazy person attempting to get things done before the holiday, both in work and out of it.
For my work stuff it’s a bit of an arbitrary deadline. Far more important is the end of our fiscal year on March 31st, but nevertheless the end of the calendar year offers up a good opportunity to review and make sure everything I’m doing is in good shape for the final quarter.
The dawn of a new year feels like a good point at which to take stock in this way because it is traditionally a time for taking stock, reviewing and re-evaluating priorities: it’s new year’s resolution time.
Since this will likely be my last post of the year before I take a break to celebrate the season with my family, I thought I’d take a few moments to share a couple of mine.
“Never Put Off Til Tomorrow What You Can Do Today”
The quote above is attributed to a couple of different people (most often Thomas Jefferson) but as best as I can tell it has its origins in a Bulgarian proverb. Regardless, this is the first of my New Year’s resolutions.
This is easier said than done, and I feel as though I should qualify what it means to me: I am a stickler for planning. I’d suggest that most project managers are - it’s a big part of the job. Every morning I take 15 minutes to look at my calendar and my workload and I plan out my day. The plan only really exists in my head (if there’s lots happening I write it down, but that’s the exception rather than the rule). None of this is a problem, except that I always seem to get too personally invested in my plan. If something comes up… too bad!
Not all of my days are jam packed with meetings - in fact I work pretty hard to keep my schedule as flexible as possible and include space to accommodate shifting priorities and last-minute asks. But when it comes down to a daily plan, I may have planned to use some of that space to go and get coffee or watch the news on TV and here’s the thing - the world could implode at the office, and I will still go for coffee if that’s what I’d planned to do.
Things often come up that would take less than 15 minutes of my time - an email that requires a response, an ask for assistance. I often find myself rigidly sticking to my plan and deferring them to the following day (or week, or month) even though I could easily find time to get them done and off my plate immediately. I’m thinking tasks that small shouldn’t need to be planned for.
Planning is important though and not letting your workdays be dictated by the whirlwind of noise that’s out there is important too. Essentially what I’m saying, then, is that there’s a balance to be struck here. I don’t believe I’ve found it yet, but I plan to work on getting better at it over the next year.
My second resolution is more of a personal one. Regular readers will know that I recently bought a smartwatch. One of its features is a step counter and activity tracker, and having this on my wrist has been enlightening to say the least.
I go into the office two or three days a week, and when I do I take thousands of steps as I move from one meeting to another, go and check in with people on the other side of the building, go for lunch with my team, whatever the case may be.
The other two or three days a week I work from home, and, I now know, basically sit myself at my desk as soon as I’m showered and dressed and then remain almost entirely stationary until the early evening (at which point I move to the sofa and remain stationary in front of the TV until bedtime).
My second resolution, then, is to be more active on those days. Take my laptop and go work from the coffee shop down the street for half an hour, spend my thinking time walking around the block instead of reclining in my chair, it doesn’t matter. Movement will be a part of my daily plan, and I’ll stick to it rigidly. Your email that requires 15 minutes of my time will just have to wait for another day.