I have a friend who loves coffee. Her first whatsapp Status update every morning is about coffee. As a tea lover, I often tease her about her coffee drinking habits. This post is not going to be about the health benefits or otherwise of coffee. I am also not going to ask you to stop drinking coffee. You’re old enough to know what you should or shouldn’t be drinking.
Instead, I will use coffee to make a point. I want you to ask yourself two questions:
Plans are often the missing link that turn ideas into reality. They are a necessity if you ever wish to turn the wishes in your head into realistic goals. A goal, written down and accompanied by a plan has a greater chance of being achieved than one which stays an unwritten, fuzzy idea in someone’s head. In fact, you are 42% more likely to achieve a goal if you regularly write it down.
While planning is crucial, there can be such a thing as over-planning. There comes a point where one is planning for planning’s sake. At that point, planning becomes an excuse not to get started. When you reach that point, what you are doing is PROCRASTINATION.
A humorous anecdote goes that a project team once finished a Government project on time only to find out that no one from the Government was ready to accept the finished product because the Civil Service had assumed based on wealth of experience that the project will not be finished on time. The Story may or may not be true but it serves as a useful reminder of a tendency among many people to underestimate the amount of work required to get a task done. This is especially true at the beginning of a complex task when you may only have a vague idea of the requirements.
Activity does not always equal productivity. The rise in number of online meetings has created a unique problem. People spend all day attending back-to-back meetings. An extreme case was someone who by virtue of having to attend meetings with different teams across different time zones was getting only 3 hours of sleep per day. That’s certainly a busy lifestyle. Is your busyness leading to more productive results? No one is paid to attend meetings but meetings can be very comforting because they give the illusion of work being done.
One of the most dangerous mindsets for productivity is the belief that you are too busy to plan. Nothing could be more damaging to achieving your goals than not having a plan. A popular refrain goes “A goal without a plan is merely a wish.” A plan is the bridge that turns your goals into reality.
When you say you do not have time to plan, what you are really saying is:
Your goal is not important enough for you to take the time to write down the steps needed to achieve it.
You do not have any priorities therefore you might as well not commit to anything.
You are willing to let others dictate what you will work on during the week.
Longterm goals often require you acquiring new skills or upgrading your knowledge. In a world where new knowledge is generated at an astounding rate, one can feel overwhelmed. It is no longer a safe option to rely on overburdened HR departments to ensure you get the training you need to stay relevant on the job. You either shape up or ship out.
One of the most common tropes one hears lately is that “If you are passionate about what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” This sounds like wisdom but for many people, it can be dangerous advice. The idea is that successful people are successful because they have found what they are passionate about and that passion is the magical pill that makes them endure adversity. If you only view your job as a career instead of a passion, some people would say you are to be pitied. Suddenly everyone is now trying to find their passion instead of building a career. The result: People rushing off to start businesses without doing market research or acquiring needed skills because they have suddenly discovered their passion is to sell clothes made out of newspaper.
P is for productive which you most certainly are. I doubt that rhyme will be adopted in any nursery school. It’s funny how some of the things that stop you being productive all begin with “P.” Let’s meet 3 of them.
Wearing a seatbelt can save your life in the event of a crash but the act of putting one on is so simple, you don’t think about it when you get into the driver’s seat. Any goal worth fighting for must be one that scares you. Any plan worth following must be one where the next step is so simple you don’t have to think too hard about it. Dentists promote better oral health among the populace not by telling us of the dangers of thousands of unseen microbes but by encouraging people to brush their teeth every day. You don’t have to think too hard about brushing your teeth every morning. You probably do it on autopilot most days. Brushing your teeth is a simple task yet the rewards are enormous and add up over a lifetime.