Welcome to the second installment in my series on improving productivity in the workplace.
Remember, improving your productivity is exceptionally important – especially if you are looking at climbing the ladder to the top. You increase your value to your organization when you deliver more value. That means getting being smart about your priorities and just plain getting stuff done.
And the more you offer your organization, the more your organization is likely to see you as an asset they want to cultivate, support, and promote.
As I write this, it’s just after New Year’s – very apropos, but it’s not the reason I suggest you start with an annual vision. A one year vision will get you clear on where you want to be, which will help ensure that you are working on the right priorities. And working on the right priorities is really the essence of productivity.
So, no matter when you start your productivity improvement journey, my advice is the same. You can always tweak your vision at the next new year, or when you do your formal company annual goals, etc.
Back to developing your vision: as I like to say, it doesn’t matter how smart, hard-working, well-trained, or skilled an archer is – she’s not going hit her target if she’s blindfolded. And that’s what it’s like for you at work if you don’t have a picture of what you’re shooting for.
This goes for all career goals, but is especially so for productivity. You will only take one step forward and two steps back if you increase your productivity but work on the wrong things.
And of course, increasing your productivity takes work. From a self-coaching perspective, tying productivity to a personally meaningful career goal or goals will help you stay motivated in the long run.
So what is an annual vision? It’s a detailed, motivating picture of where you want to be in one year, and what you will have accomplished by then. It’s also part of an ongoing process of revisiting and adjusting your trajectory every year.
You can go into as much detail as you’d like, but aim for at least a page. It will be worth it. Here is an array of questions to get your juices flowing:
- What would success look like a year from now?
- What do you want most in the next year? Get as detailed as possible. Don’t hold back.
- What progress will you have made in your career one year from now?
- What milestones will you have reached?
- What will you be doing more of?
- What would you be doing less of? (Such as low value tasks or time wasters)
- What will you be acknowledged and praised for?
- What challenges will you have faced head-on to create big successes?
- What bad habits will you have replaced with good habits?
- What are the most high-value tasks you will have worked on from the perspective of your boss, the organization, clients, customers, etc.?
- What will be your most high-value achievements, from your perspective?
- What professional development will you have done?
- What allies will you have cultivated and how will they be supporting you?
- In what ways will you adjust your physical environment or incorporate/better use technology to help you be more successful?
- What will it look like to be on target, on time, and organized in your strategies?
- What relationships will you have improved?
- What will a streamlined, effective workflow look like – one that has a system you can trust, so your mind can be freed and available to work at its best?
- From a work/life planning perspective, what will you do to relax, decompress, and rejuvenate yourself so you can bring your best self to work?
Make your vision as detailed as you can and don’t worry about it being absolutely perfect, you can trust your judgment on this. This is worth the time investment, so consider dedicating a few hours to it.
A vision is important for every professional. At the same time, I am a specialist on women’s careers, so I can’t resist making a quick note on some challenges that often come up in women’s career development. First of all, be bold. Don’t hold back in your vision if you think you’re unprepared or don’t feel confident in it. You may be underestimating your skills, when you could be out there applying them to interesting new projects. And I encourage you to consider whether you avoid risks – it might be time to start pushing outside of your comfort zone. Other things to consider could be making sure that you’re developing a wide network, looking for opportunities to make your voice heard, advocating for your decisions and opinions confidently, etc.
Your vision is a strong foundation for the next step of further clarifying your priorities. We will cover that in the next installment. From there, you’ll be ready to maximize the effectiveness of the concrete strategies that we will discuss in future posts in this series.
What do you think? Feel free to share any golden nuggets from your vision in the comments below.
Career, Performance, and Management Coach for Women
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