Posts tagged CAREER GOALS
PRODUCTIVITY POWER TOOLS
 

When you consider the sheer number of technological advancements the 21st century has produced, you'd be forgiven for being somewhat surprised to learn that my most relied-upon productivity tool isn’t say, the iPhone, or even the precious gift of email. It’s definitely not Slack, and it isn’t Dropbox either. No – as brilliant and necessary as all of these inventions are, my secret weapon when it comes to productivity is, drumroll...

The humble list.

I love making lists, and generally have several on the go at any given moment, from smaller day-to-day lists to bigger 'master lists'. I have a list of things I want to achieve by the time I’m 30 (tick tock), as well as a seemingly never-ending list of ‘life admin’ stored on my phone. I’ve even been known to get a bit meta and make a list of all my other various lists, although in hindsight, making a to-do list with ‘consolidate other lists’ on it that one time was probably a bit much.

Part of the reason I rely on lists so much is because of the simple fact that I have a terrible short-term memory. Whether it’s an interesting idea or a bit of admin – if I don’t write something down as soon as I think of it, chances are I’ll forget it forever (or at least until it’s horribly urgent or long overdue, preferably both). But more importantly, I find that making lists keeps me accountable, and allows me to make objective decisions about what I need to do, and when. I'm convinced lists are the key to getting shit done – so here’s some advice on how and why to deploy them most effectively, so you too can experience the life-enhancing properties of a well-structured list.

And for the record, you don't need a list of all your other lists. That was a dumb thing to do.

Part I: The Benefits

CONSERVING MENTAL ENERGY

By far the most significant benefit of using lists in your working life is that they free up crucial thinking space. By spending a few minutes planning your workflow upfront instead of trying to store dozens of tasks in your head, you free up your brain to do the real work of creative thinking the rest of the time.

 

GETTING ORGANISED

Breaking down larger goals into the sum of their parts can turn seemingly abstract goals into concrete tasks, which are easier to work through. Lists also help you keep track of your progress – if you find that a particular task on your ‘day-to-day’ list (more on that in Part II) keeps cropping up week after week, it’s probably an indicator of a) something you need to stop dodging and just deal with once and for all, or b) something that’s actually not particularly vital, and probably doesn’t need to be on your task list at all. Keep an eye out for those problem items so you can decide which of those two categories they fall into, and act accordingly.

 

STAYING MOTIVATED

Let's face it - crossing items off to-do lists is pretty satisfying, and being able to see a visual representation of what you’ve already completed can give you a sense of achievement that helps spur you on.

 

Part II: Getting Started

There are the two key lists I rely on, structured thus:

1. BIG PICTURE

These are the longer term objectives – career goals and bigger projects, or perhaps skills you want to acquire. Break this list down into four categories:

  • >1 month
  • 1-3 months
  • 3-6 months
  • 6 months+

Review it every few weeks to see how you’re getting on, and remind yourself of what’s on the horizon for the next few months.

2. DAY-TO-DAY

This one’s for your short-term goals i.e. the more immediately pressing tasks that need to be completed in the days and weeks ahead. At the start of each week, make a list of your goals for that week, breaking them down into individual tasks – the more detailed the better! This stage is something of a brain dump, so just jot down everything that comes to mind, without worrying about its relative importance or difficulty.  You might find it helpful to categorise tasks by theme as you write them down, putting them under separate headings (e.g. writing, finances, events etc.).

Then, take two minutes to prioritise, numbering tasks in order of importance/urgency. This is crucial, and means when you’ve finished one task, you don’t waste mental energy figuring out what to do next, helping to eliminate decision fatigue

Review this list each morning to find out what’s on the agenda for the day.

 

Finally, whilst I’m happy to digitise most aspects of my life, I’m a firm believer in getting important lists like these down on paper (and here’s a roundup of the best stationery around to help you on that front). The very process of committing your thoughts to paper is often really illuminating, and it means your goals won't get lost in the jumble of draft tweets and Chrome tabs that dominate our digital lives.

 

Happy list-making!

 
SEPTEMBER SWITCH-UP

Although the balmy temperatures we’re currently experiencing in London make it hard to believe we’re actually heading into Autumn, as I wrote last week this time of year always feels like the perfect time to make a few changes and get back on track, work-wise. With that in mind, here are four simple ways to prepare yourself for your autumn rentrée.

 

SET SOME CAREER GOALS

In the market for a new job? Recruitment season tends to pick up again after the end of summer, so dust off your CV if you’ve got your mind set on greener pastures. Likewise if it’s a payrise or promotion you’re after – start laying the groundwork now. Getting a payrise or promotion isn’t something that happens overnight – to make that jump, you need to be putting in a consistent effort over time. Take five minutes today to figure out what sort of contributions you need to be making and what achievements you need under your belt to make that happen, then make sure you’re ticking the right boxes (and exceeding expectations) over the months ahead. Why now? Well, when it comes to asking for payrises, timing is everything – and January is statistically the top month for payrises (most companies operate on the calendar year, and have a fresh budget to allocate). So putting in the legwork over the next 4 – 5 months means come January, you’ll be in a great position to make your case.

 

REVAMP YOUR WORKSPACE

Whether it’s a question of cleaning out your desk, upgrading your workspace with some new stationery, or finding a new workspace altogether – now’s the time to declutter, re-organise, and generally re-evaluate how your work environment is impacting your day-to-day productivity. Take the time to make the small changes that make your workspace a more pleasant and productive place to be, and free up thinking space for the important stuff.

 

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

If you’ve been putting off checking your bank balance after a summer of unfettered indulgence (guilty), there’s no time like the present to do a quick recce of your finances, and start getting your affairs in order. Don’t put pressure on yourself to tackle it all at once – pick one thing you’ve been putting off, whether it’s cancelling that subscription you never use, or finally filing your wretched expenses (nul points for guessing what I’ve been avoiding), and resolve to complete it by the end of this week. Recently, I’ve been using new banking service Monzo to try and help me get my day-to-day spending in check – it comes with a helpful app that alerts you to your spending in real time and breaks down your spending by category, making keeping track of where your money’s going as easy as scrolling through Instagram.

 

GET INSPIRED

One of the best things about autumn is the fresh crop of arts and culture events that seem to spring up all over the place – there’s a deluge of new films, exhibitions, and cultural goings-on happening over the coming weeks and months. I plan on paying a visit to the London Design Festival next week to check out the best of London’s design scene (handy list of highlights here). If your brain is in a state of atrophy after one too many Aperol spritzes, taking in new creative work is the best way of blowing out the cobwebs and getting your creative juices flowing again.

 

Happy Monday!