It’s that time of year: Time to assess the year as a whole, work-wise, and figure out how to go forward with what you learned. Yes… it’s time to finish next year’s planning. Yes, finish it. If you haven’t started, carve out some time over the next two weeks. I know, the holidays are here and your schedule is crazy.
Keep in mind that no one wants a meeting with you at 5:00am, so you have that time to yourself. Get up 2 hours early for a week or so. Use the solitude to complete your 2018 planning, getting yourself and your company ready for forward progress.
What didn’t go well this year?
Let’s get start by getting the ugly part out of the way. What didn’t work this year? What was unsuccessful? What didn’t live up to your expectations? What was a total failure?
Of those, which can be eliminated in the upcoming year?
For the things that didn’t go well, assess what happened. Was there a lack of planning? Did the financials work differently than expected? Did a project need more time, money and/or people than was allocated? Did the people involved need additional training or tools? Did you need different people involved?
Make a list.
What went well this year?
What went well this year? What things went so well that if they went the same way next year, you’d be pleased with the outcome? What has to happen to make things go that well for another year? Is there anything about these aspects of the business that can be improved? Is there anything you can learn from the year’s successes that you can use to improve the things that failed or disappointed this year?
Add whatever came of this process to your todo list.
What’s misunderstood about your products & services?
Failures often start as misunderstandings. With client-facing projects, it’s critical to watch what happened rather than assume why something failed.
Do you have a product that generates lots of returns that aren’t based on material or fit-&-finish complaints? If so, watch your customers try to use these things. This can be uncomfortable, but it’s hugely valuable. People will struggle, or make different assumptions than you would. You’ll see where they are frustrated & wonder how they got to that point.
Observation will usually provide the insight needed to fix the problem. With any product or service experiencing substantial returns (or churn), dig a little deeper into why people return them. There’s always something customers aren’t telling you. They bought a product, so they care about what it does. They haven’t told you the important thing because they haven’t been asked the right question.
Got a few more things on the list? Keep going.
Little hinges swing big doors
With that list of new tasks, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. It might look insurmountable, but it’ll be fine if you break it down into achievable chunks. It’s easy to look at the list you’ve made and freak out a little.
Take a deep breath.
There are probably things you do now that someone else could do, or that could be automated, or that when you really think about it… don’t need to be done at all or as often.
For the next four days, set aside 30 minutes per day:
Day One: Review your daily / weekly todo list for recurring items. Eliminate one that really doesn’t have to be done, or that doesn’t have to be done every week.
Day Two: Identify one daily or weekly task that can be automated and get the automation process going. It doesn’t matter how. Use IFTTT, ask a programmer, ask someone else to help you automate it, etc. Don’t let the how get you stuck. Ask for help.
Day Three: Delegate one daily or weekly task. “I don’t have time to train someone” & “It’s too easy for me to do this” are common refrains. Do it anyway. Invest 30 minutes to teach someone how to do something so you’ll never have to do it again. You’ll improve both your job & theirs.
Day Four: Review what’s left. Try to consolidate any of the tasks that remain.
A week later: Now that you’ve seen the impact, can anything else be delegated, automated or eliminated? Open time in your day for higher value tasks that only you can do.
Plan a 2018 that leverages what you do best.
Photo by Infomastern