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?


11 thoughts on “Doing Things Differently in 2013”

  1. I’m not trying to get all desk chair psychologist on you Shanna, but it’s telling that your big points of emphasis all start with the word “lack.” At the end, you do acknowledge the role “too much” had on 2012 though (e.g. too much busyness and too much uncertainty). I’m not too worried though. I can see 2013 being a cup half full (and probably completely full) year for you!
    So how about I turn my lens inward and explore myself for a moment. Well, I have major systems in place for 2013 that I didn’t in 2012. Like the 81 reoccurring business tasks I’ve scheduled. I have a drastically increased desire and need to make a few bucks or risk getting this giant entrepreneur experiment shut down. I have a peer development plan in place with a lot of excitement to see other people grow with me. And I have my top nine goals to feverishly work towards so I can continue the evolution of my personal renaissance. Shall I go on? 🙂
    P.S. “balls deep in orcs,” huh? Wowzers, that’s a new one for me.

    1. @joeyjoejoe Don’t worry, I patted my self on the back plenty, it just didn’t come up within the confines of this post. And my targets for the year are all framed positively, but these came up over and over again as the holes where things fell through the cracks, and as I thought about it, I realized that those three things were likely universal– as Charlie Gilkey likes to say, business is like building the plane while it’s in the air.
      Your goals sound fantastic, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them come to fruition!

    2. @joeyjoejoe
       @Shanna Mann Yes, I found myself reading “balls deep in orcs” and “god’s special little snowflake” right out loud to CJ and laughing all the way. 
      As avid squirrel watchers on our morning walk, I have noticed that even the squirrels have their anxious ones.  I watched a squirrel run up a tree, see another squirrel calmly eating a nut on a branch, screech, and run frantically by as if there weren’t twenty other branches on which to sit.  I want to be more like the squirrel calmly nibbling its afternoon snack, so I am reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness for Beginners.  I want to walk, eat, and work with intention.

      1. @tammyrenzi  Thank you! My prose is pretty workmanlike compared to my writerly friends, but I do manage to turn a droll phrase here and there. 😛
        Mindfulness is surprisingly entertaining– I mean, look what you learned about squirrels!

  2. I’m so bad at this large scale analytical stuff. I tend to just say “None of this is working!!” and then go nuts making changes. Not productive.
    I think for me there needs to be less best practice following and more thinking for myself. I’m starting to realize I’m trying to build a particular kind of business and that most of the advice out there isn’t meant for what I want to create. I’m also realizing I’m an all-or-nothing sort of person who is really bad at things like balance and moderation in pretty much all areas of my life as well as between them. So, even though I haven’t figured out how to work on them, exactly, those are the things I want to focus on/change in 2013!

  3. Oh, i lacked plenty of systems and planning this year.. my life was very much.. one day at a time. Which is good in a sense.. I know some people say that’s a good way to live – in the moment and whatnot. But, it was kinda nerve-wrecking and frustrating for me as well.
    I don’t really do goals for new years. I like to reflect, like you and think about an area to improve on… for me, that would be – giving more of my time to things I REALLY care about. I don’t want to work on stuff that I’m lukewarm about.

  4. michaelwroberts

    Going on vacation and taking a break from the clutter of day-to-day living has been enormously helpful in letting me see where I need to better organize and consolidate. In fact, 2012 was so frustrating in many ways because I kept chasing after so many new ideas without really nurturing any of them.
    Here’s to a simpler, more focused 2013!

  5. I could not agree more about resolutions. In fact, I’ve boycotted them. Why should I wait until the end of the year to make a change in my life?
    As for 2013, I am on much the same path as you. I am further refining my productivity systems and getting better at planning, of which I’ve done very little in the past.

    1. @ethanwaldman The only reason I can see to wait until Jan 1 is a convenient starting place for a couple of very specific, measureable goals. For instance, I’m tracking my walking to see if I can walk 500 miles in a year. I’m starting on Jan 1. Otherwise, why would you wait to improve your life?

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