Time Well-Spent – How to Hit the Ground Running this Year

Janelle Pagnucco | January-21-13



We are mid-way through January and I’m already feeling the pinch. With thoughts about time management and efficiency buzzing through my head, I decided to do a little reading and come up with some key take-away points that I could implement.

My first stop was ECO's blogs. After searching through a few keywords, I discovered these two great articles below on how to make the most of what seems like an increasingly rare commodity these days - time.

Setting Goals to Achieve Success

Goal-setting is essential in both our professional and personal lives. I see goals as a way to stay focused on important activities and to motivate myself to accomplish both challenging and mundane tasks. For example, to keep up a somewhat regular running routine, I sign up for road races throughout the year and set myself the goal of beating my running time from the previous year. For me, having a date in sight mixed in with some ambition helps keep me on track.

According to the article New Year’s Resolutions for 2011: Don’t make SMART goals...make HARD ones by Craig Dowden, PH.D., Managing Director of André Filion and Associates, research conducted by Leadership IQ shows that setting ‘HARD Goals’ truly helps people achieve great things. HARD goals are:

  • Heartfelt — They involve emotional attachment. They are bigger than yourself and scratch an ‘existential itch.’
  • Animated — These goals are associated with a compelling and evocative movie that plays over and over in your mind where you can picture and feel the joys of goal attainment.
  • Required — There is a sense of urgency, where there is no other alternative than to start doing rather than thinking.
  • Difficult — These goals require you to stretch outside of your comfort zone and ‘reach for the stars.’ Very little transformative change has been achieved by striving for mediocrity. It is the passion to pursue excellence and something that might seem impossible, that leads to greatest accomplishments.

Give this HARD goal approach a try this year and see what 2013 has in store for you!

Finding Balance

At times throughout the year, I often feel a little off-kilter and have the itch to find my groove again. In the article Finding Your Green Career “Sweet Spot”, Melissa Creede, CEO of Sapis Insight, shares her leadership and career coaching expertise for helping professionals “connect the dots” to find full satisfaction and success in their workplace.

Melissa defines the ‘Sweet Spot’ as “…the intersection between your strengths, interests, aspirations, purpose and values. It’s the overlap between your career goals, your lifestyle desires, and the areas in which you want to lead or make a difference in the world.”

The important part about getting into the groove or finding one’s ‘sweet spot’ is that it stems from working within your strengths. Once you have a clear idea about what you’re good at, the work you do is rewarding and any challenges that you might encounter are easily overcome. I’ve experienced this before  -  maybe you have too? For me, feeling satisfied about what I’m doing often translates into success.

So what’s the next step? How do I ensure that I can use my time optimally and meet my goals?

To answer these questions, I turned to the Harvard Business Review blog post How to Allocate Your Time, and Your Effort by Elizabeth Grace Saunders. She reminds us of a reality that we often forget: “no one has time for everything.” This is the fact that we need to face, accept and plan for in order to achieve success.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders presents this key point: Decide where you will not spend time. When I read this, I had my aha moment. As I mentioned before, self-satisfaction is my gauge for how successful I feel, yet as Ms. Saunders notes, we can’t do everything to an A+ level . She states, “the moment you embrace that truth, you instantly reduce your stress and feelings of inadequacy.”

Moving forward, I’m going to be much more strategic on where I spend my time. I think the key here is to identify which tasks have the greatest impact on bringing me closer to achieving my goals. For these, I’ll allocate more time so that I can put in 100% effort. By the same token, I need to identify those “need to get done” administrative-type of activities. For these, I’ll accept a C grade level of effort in order to keep my time spent in these areas at a minimum. Wish me luck!

I highly recommend reading the articles above to get more insight into how you can make strides to ensure that 2013 is a year of achievements and success for you.

Do you have any tips or aha moments you wish to share? Is there one thing that a mentor or manager said to you that made all the difference in your performance? Share your insights below.