With 3 months left in 2017 this is a great time to be productive. Decide what you can achieve in the time left. Is there a goal from the start of the year that you haven’t been able to start yet? Or maybe a new goal has emerged as the year progressed. You might have work goals or a personal goal or both.
How Productive Can You Be
Well it’s time to get focused, create a simple plan and make Quarter 4 your most productive period this year. How great would it feel to achieve something important and finish the year on a high? How well would that set you up for a productive 2018.
3 months is a good length of time to plan. Not too long to get demotivated but not too short to feel too much pressure.
Your Most Important Goal
First identify which goal you will work on. If it’s a goal you set at the start of the year evaluate if it is still important to you. Is it still relevant? Is it possible to achieve by end 2017? If so then ask yourself the following questions:
- What will it look like or feel like to achieve this goal?
- What do I have to do to complete the goal?
- Can I break the goal down into sub-goals?
- Do I need help or input from anyone else?
Make A Plan
To help you plan what needs to be done break down the goal into smaller sub-goals. Brainstorm each sub-goal to list out the tangible tasks or actions required. You can do this on your own with a pen and paper or with a colleague using post-it notes or flipcharts, etc.
Once you have all your tasks, decide what can be done when. Are some tasks inter-related? Do some tasks depend on the completion of others? Can you identify milestones or achievements along the way so you can tell that you are on track?
Now using a 3 month calendar view map in when you aim to do your tasks. You can use Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Excel or simply create a planner yourself on a chart or board. You can also check out our beproductive.ie Q4 Planner template here.
You already thought about what achievement of your goal will look like or feel like. This g=helps you decide some measurable targets. What will change? What will be new? Will you start doing something you haven’t done before? Or maybe your goal involves not doing something you currently do!
Don’t over plan
When you are mapping out the work, be realistic about how much time you have. You are probably already busy so where and when can you create “extra” time?
Build in some slippage because life will inevitably throw some unexpected things at you. And if you miss some target dates you may become demotivated. It can work well to overestimate the task times initially to build momentum. Then as you see how things are going, revise the later task times to stretch yourself more.
Also be practical. The last month of Q4 is December and we can’t treat this like a normal month because of all the Christmas activities. So aim to finish your plan mid-December.
Leave a 5 day cushion at the end of your timeline with no tasks planned so you can complete anything that didn’t get done. Then if unexpected things crop up you will still have a chance of completing your overall goal on time.
Track Your Progress
By completing your plan you have actually completed your first milestone. Now you need to work through your tasks tracking your progress as you go. The easiest way is to capture the date you complete things so you can compare the Target Time with the Actual Time. If you miss a Target date does this have a knock-on effect on the remaining Targets? Readjust your plan as required.
With any goals and plans, whether personal or business ones, it can be really useful to tell someone else what you are doing. This can make you more committed to the work which can help on a day when your motivation might be low.
Celebrate What You Achieve
If you complete your tasks and ultimately your overall goal then celebrate! But if you haven’t finished by the end of Q4 don’t despair. Just think of the work you have done so far. This is likely to be a lot more than if you had no Q4 plan. And from your plan you know exactly the tasks that are left so you are more likely to complete out the work.
And you can also celebrate your skills in Project Management. If you have used the approach described here you have used classic Project Management and Project Planning technique. These techniques can be applied to any project large or small, business or personal.
Find What Works For You
Like all our productivity tips at beproductive.ie we recommend that you: 1) tweak our suggested approach to find what works best for your work and 2) stretch yourself a little so you can achieve new things.
Have a productive Q4 and be sure to let us know how you get on. And Contact Us if you want to talk about Productivity training.