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Evaluating Your Goals for More Productivity

Evaluating Your Goals for More Productivity

Productivity is a desirable but elusive quality. Just what can be done to progress from average or marginal productivity to a high level of achievement? One thing that is at the forefront of any attempt at self-improvement is a written statement of goals. Written goals, especially if they are broken down into manageable chunks, give us a framework that we can use to keep track of our progress. We can then carry out our own personal performance review and development.


In the book, The Success Principles, Jack Canfield has a lot to say about goal setting and review. Goals need to be measurable. They need to be worded in such a way that there is no doubt when they have been reach. Canfield says that a goal that is not measurable is just a “good idea.” For instance, “I want to write a book” is a good idea. “I will complete 200 pages of my book by January 31st,” is a measurable goal.

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Canfield also suggests making a goals book, in which you write your goal at the top of the page, and then create a scrapbook of motivating pictures or words related to that goal. For instance, if I wanted to make money from home, I might cut out pictures of money or of people working on their computers or talking on the phone. Read over those goals and look at the pictures daily or even more often.

Another principle of personal performance review and development is to break the goal down into smaller steps. Richard Carlson, author of the “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” books, calls these “baby steps.” So does Marla Cilley, aka the Flylady, author of the book Sink Reflections. Canfield calls this principle “chunking it down.”

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Make a list of those baby steps, then read those goals and smaller chunks often. For many goals, keeping a record can be useful for self evaluation. For instance, if I want to get more done at my work-at-home job, I might keep track of how many hours per day I am actually working it. This doesn’t include tasks like cleaning my email inbox! It means the time spent actually contacting prospective clients or doing the contracted work.

A simple habit of noting the time started and stopped can be extremely motivating. Plus you’ll have a record of past achievement, sort of a chart of self improvement statistics, which will enable you to tell how much you are improving. A chart like this is especially useful for fitness goals, too.

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Specific measurable goals are good for your employees and for your children, too. Every time a goal is reached, even if it is a baby step, it improves the self-esteem. That means that the next goal I undertake or give my employee will seem just a little more doable. Canfield suggests keeping a record of victories. He also encourages people to spend a few minutes every night reviewing the day looking for small successes.

Goal setting is one of the foremost weapons in the battle for self improvement. Use them wisely and review them frequently for the greatest gain in personal productivity.

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Barbara Wood is a writer and educator living in the Missouri Ozarks. Home organization has been a lifelong pursuit for her, and has led her to study many great books on productivity, time management, and organization.

References:

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

Ah, Inbox Zero. An achievement that so many of us long for. It’s elusive. It’s a productivity benchmark. It’s an ongoing battle.

It’s also unnecessary.

Don’t get me wrong, the way Inbox Zero was initially termed is incredibly valuable. Merlin Mann coined the phrase years ago and what he has defined it as goes well beyond the term itself.[1]

Yet people have created their own definition of Inbox Zero. They’re not using it with the intent that Mann suggested. Instead, it’s become about having nothing left in immediate view. It’s become about getting your email inbox to zero messages or having an empty inbox on your desk that was once filled with papers. It’s become about removing visual clutter.

But it’s not about that. Not at all.

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Here’s what inbox zero actually is, as defined by Mann:

“It’s about how to reclaim your email, your atten­tion, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many mes­sages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” – Merlin Mann

The Fake Inbox Zero

The sense of fulfillment one gets from clearing out everything in your inbox is temporary at best, disappointing at worst. Often we find that we’re shooting for Inbox Zero just so that we can say that we’ve got “everything done that needed to be done”. That’s simply not the case.

Certainly, by removing all of your things that sit in your inbox means that they are either taken care of or are well on their way to being taken care of. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is often applied to clearing out your inbox. But unless you’ve actually done something with the stuff, it’s either not worth having in your inbox in the first place or is still sitting in your “mental inbox”.

You have to do something with the stuff, and for many people, that is a hard thing to do. That’s why Inbox Zero – as defined by Mann – is not achieved as often as many people would like to believe. It’s this “watered down” concept of Inbox Zero that is completed instead. You’ve got no email in your inbox and you’ve got no paper on your desk’s inbox. So that must mean you’re at Inbox Zero.

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Until the next email arrives or the next document comes your way. Then you work to get rid of those as quickly as possible so that you can get back to Inbox Zero: The Lesser again. If it’s something that can be dealt with quickly, then you get there. But if they require more time, then soon you’ve got more stuff in your inboxes. So you switch up tasks to get to the things that don’t require as much time or attention so that you can get closer to this stripped down variation of Inbox Zero.

However, until you deal with the bigger items, you don’t quite get there. Some people feel as if they’ve let themselves (or others) down if they don’t get there. And that, quite frankly, is silly. That’s why this particular version of Inbox Zero doesn’t work.

The Ultimate Way to Get to Inbox Zero

So what’s the ultimate way to get to Inbox Zero?

Have zero inboxes.

The inbox is meant to be a stop along the way to your final destination. It’s the place where stuff sits until you’re ready to put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it.

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So why not skip the inbox altogether? Why not put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it? Because that requires immediate action. It means you need to give the item some thought and attention.

You need to step back and look at it rather than file it. That’s why we have a catch-all inbox, both for email and for analog items. It allows us to only look at these things when we’re ready to do so.

The funny thing is that we can decide when we’re ready to without actually looking at the inbox beforehand. We can look at things on our own watch rather than when we are alerted to or feel the need to.

There is no reason why you need an inbox at all to store things for longer than it sits there before you see it. None. It’s a choice. And the choice you should be making is how to deal with things when you first see them, rather than when to deal with things you haven’t looked at yet.

Stop Faking It

Seeing things in your inboxes is simply using your sight. Looking at things in your inbox when you first see them is using insight.

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Stop checking email more than twice per day. Turn off your alerts. Put your desk’s inbox somewhere that it can be accessed by others and only accessed by you when you’re ready to deal with what’s in it. Don’t put it on your desk – that’s productivity poison.

If you want to get to Inbox Zero — the real Inbox Zero — then get rid of those stops along the way. You’ll find that by doing that, you’ll be getting more of the stuff you really want done finished much faster, rather than see them moving along at the speed of not much more than zero.

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Featured photo credit: Web Hosting via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merlin Mann: Inbox Zero

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