Organize Yourself in 2015: Use Lessons Learned (and Relearned)

In the past three posts, I have shown how to take your yearly goals for 2015 for the various categories of your life (based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) and to break them down into monthly and weekly goals.

I also talked about prioritizing goals and using the Pareto principle to take the 20% of the goals for each day that give you 80% of the results towards your ultimately yearly goals, and to label those as your “frogs” or “top priority” tasks.   Then you put them towards the very beginning of your schedule.

Okay, that is the basic organizational scheme.   How do you get good at this?   Through practice, and through improvement. You practice is by doing it every week, but you improve by reviewing it every week.

What should you watch for?   The biggest thing you should look out for are “top priority” tasks which have been skipped or remain incomplete.   If you keep putting off a certain task, then this could be because you are unconsciously procrastinating on it.

One of the books I recommend for those who procrastinate is The Now Habit, by Neil Fiore, Ph.D.   One thing that Brian Tracy admits he does NOT do in his book on preventing procrastination, Eat That Frog, is he does not get into the psychology behind procrastination; he just gives practical techniques to try to stop it.   But if you are really having problems with procrastination that have a psychological origin, then Neil Fiore’s book may be for you.

In any case, a review of each week at the end of the week, and then a review of each month at the end of the month, can give you clues into how well you follow your plans, and they can tell you whether you need to redo the plan.

If you consider your yearly goals as projects in and of themselves, then you should do what is called a “Lessons Learned” exercise to improve your performance.   However, one of the new trends in project management is not to wait until the end of a project in a kind of post mortem to figure out what went wrong.   Many project management experts now recommend that you do a “lessons learned” review at several periods during the project.   In that way, if something needs to be corrected, it can be done early on before the project is done, so your wisdom can not only be used on future projects but the current ones you are working on as well.

In a similar way, constant review at the end of any particular time period, be it a week or a month, can be really helpful in changing your behavior to fit the plan, or changing your plan if it turns out to be unrealistic.

You may have to learn lessons and sometimes relearn them, but that is the incremental change you will need to truly transform your organizational practice!

If you are no longer procrastinating on the “top priority” or “starred” items, then you already have triumphed due to your organizational practice.   However, if you are still not completing the “A” or “B” tasks as much as you would like, it’s time to add two new letters, “D” and “E, to your three-letter sorting system of “A”, “B”, and “C”.   That will be the subject of tomorrow’s post.


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