Change Catalyst with Shanna Mann: Strategy & Support for Sane Self-Employment

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Doing Things Differently in 2013

This is a pretty crazy time of year. People, rested from their holidays, begin to have grandiose notions of what they’ll be able to accomplish in the coming year. I’m all for having stretch goals, but New Years Resolutions are just a bad idea in many, many ways.

However! I *do* like them for reflection. I just finished my planning (YN6MF style) and I assessed what I got accomplished in the last year (a lot) and what I want to accomplish in the next, and what things were keeping me from doing some of the things I wanted to do last year.

And although I’m god’s special snowflake, I betcha what held me back isn’t too different from what held a lot of you back, so I thought I’d share. It’s not too late to start 2013 on the right foot if some of this stuff resonates for you.

1. Lack of Systems.

The latter half of 2012, especially, represented a lot of change, and I implemented a lot of those changes without effective systems. It’s not good or bad– it’s pretty damn hard to implement systems without a few test runs, but I never took the time to reflect and tighten them up because I was balls deep in orcs with all three of my businesses. To that end:

  •  I’ve created targets to have all of my creation goals and to a lesser extent, my implementation goals, complete by the 21st of any given month, so that the final week can be devoted to planning, organizing, and getting my ducks in a row for the next month. I need that time to set up the targets so I can shoot them down.
  •  I set up/improved my workflow, which mainly means uploading a lot of stuff to Drive so that documents can be bookmarked, then creating folders of bookmarks for various workflows and/or checklists. For instance, when I write a blog post, I open the bookmark folder entitled “Blogging” which opens both WP and my blogging checklist, and a shortcut list of html and shortcodes I can’t be arsed to memorize. Soonish (by the end of the week, I hope) this folder will also include a checklist for sharing, because I forget to tweet stuff all the time.
  • When I create a new system (I have a system for creating systems now), I make a note in Remember The Milk to update and refine it in one month. In practice, it may wait until Planning Week, since that’s the only time I anticipate being sufficiently relaxed and reflective for the refinement process to work efficiently

2. Lack of Planning

As I mentioned to the Catalyst, one of my primary objectives this year will be to design my work like manual labor, which is to say, orderly, effectively, and with marked and measureable progress. I also recalled, from my days as a roofer, that the planning and preparation were easily 2/3rd of the job. By the time you were actually LAYING shingles, you were practically done. My formal planning process on the level of projects leaves a LOT to be desired. I’m working on that.

3. Lack of Consolidation

This is the one that bugs me the most— because it’s so wasteful. To make the gains, but not to consolidate them, is a damn shame, and means that there was a lot of wasted energy— like cooking a huge meal, eating half of it, and throwing the rest out.

These are the follow-ups not made, the sales not asked for, the guest post gigs not provided.

Lack of consolidation indicates grave things about a business– it means that you’re unable to leverage your efforts. And being unable to leverage your efforts means you’re probably already working at your capacity, because if you weren’t, you would take the time to work smarter, not harder.

But the lack of consolidation is a welcome symptom. I can do things to address it, most notably, creating systems. Not only systems to ensure I work under capacity, but systems to trigger me to consolidate. Every time I miss a chance to consolidate, to apply leverage to my efforts, I have to ask myself: What was screwed up about my life or my organization that I didn’t consolidate?

It’s a variety of things, I find. Busy and over-extended, no more bandwidth left, scared or uncertain, no easy way to do it, other things took higher priority. It’s not always a bad thing. But it’s ALWAYS something to watch, and in 2013, my watchword is momentum. What you get when you leverage your effort by consolidating.

What about you? How are you going to do things differently next year?