The next time you’re nostalgic for simpler days, before you spent so much time thinking about your Wi-Fi connection, I challenge you to think about paper maps. Just folding those things was frustrating. Using them to navigate was a skill.
The advent of MapQuest helped. You’d enter your starting and ending points and the program would plot a turn-by-turn route. Print that bad boy out and off you went…. unless you got lost, or a road was unexpectedly closed. Then the printed map would be little to no help. It only gave you one route. If you left it, you were on your own. At least with a paper map you could see all the options. You could plot a new route.
If you read my last post about time management, you might remember that I talked about some research Google had done about the dynamics of successful teams. To refresh your memory, Google found that successful teams shared five key dynamics:
• Psychological safety (feeling like they could safely take risks)
• Dependability (trusting team members to do high-quality work on time)
• Structure & clarity (sharing clear goals and plans)
• Meaning of work (feeling like the work was personally meaningful)
• Impact of work (feeling like the work mattered)
The researchers concluded that psychological safety was the most important of these qualities. Feeling safe and supported by their team members allows individuals to focus on the work and its meaning, instead of focusing on whether or not they’re being judged.
Reading back that list today, it was that third dynamic that struck me. Some of the qualities that the Google researchers identified are more relevant in group settings, but structure and clarity are pivotal for just about all of us. Note that the teams weren’t evaluated on the merits of their goals, but on how clearly their goals were mapped out and communicated.
Waze and other navigation apps now make it nearly impossible to get lost on the road. But do you have a road map for your goals?
I’m not suggesting that the only way to live a successful life (whatever that means to you) is to follow a predetermined map from point A to point B. It’s just that setting a goal is only the first of many steps toward achieving that goal. Or, to continue the driving metaphor: if you know where you’re going but not how to get there, you’ll waste a lot of time and resources making wrong turns.
From a time management perspective…yikes.
Will you try a simple exercise with me? Think of a goal you have, that you haven’t yet worked toward. Something you’ve thought about in an “I’ll get to that when I find the time” sort of way. It could be something relatively minor, like painting a bathroom or taking a trip, or something as big as adopting a child or changing careers.
Got it in your mind? Good.
Grab a piece of paper and draw two dots on opposite sides of the page. The first dot is your starting point – where you are today, in this moment. The last dot is the point at which you reach that goal. For this exercise, let’s use a sample goal of learning to ski. Label both dots.
First: drill down on what exactly reaching your goal looks like. Does “learning to ski” mean grasping the basics like stopping and staying upright? Does it mean finishing a single run down a bunny hill without falling? Does it mean completing a beginner’s class? Get as specific as possible about what success looks like for you in relation to this particular goal.
Next, draw your road map. Think about the tasks that you have to check off as part of the process of meeting that goal. These should be totally personalized to your life and schedule, not generic tasks.
If you want to learn to ski, your first task might be “research class options at [local ski resort].” For someone else, the first task might be “schedule time off to travel to ski resort” or “call cardiologist to ask if skiing is safe for me.” Write down the tasks in order between your starting and ending dots.
Just as it’s important to have a clear path forward, it’s also important to be ready for curveballs at any point.
Let’s call this the MapQuest effect. A road map is no good to you if it only shows one possible route. So, plot out those tasks, but use pencil and keep that map handy. Every time you complete one of those tasks, reevaluate the map. Using the information you currently have, does it make sense to tackle the next task on the list? Do you need to adjust your route, or are you right on track?
Creating, clarifying, and staying ON the path to your goals is a big part of what I cover whenever I talk about how to do more of what you want to do.
Getting really specific about what you want to accomplish is a critical part of a successful time management strategy. And because we’re all messy humans, with all the unpredictable complications that brings, being flexible and ready to adjust your map is how you’ll get where you want to go.
Speaking of getting specific about your goals: I’m in the middle of leading my three-day Time Matters Boot Camp LIVE! today, and I’ve packed the schedule with modules that address that very topic! I actually teach the same material in a 90-Day Virtual format in my Time Matters Boot Camp 90-Day Program which kicks off again on June 3rd.
So, if you weren’t able to travel to Boston or prefer to learn in bite sized pieces, check out the details here:
Starts June 3rd , 2019
If you think this program might be for you, set up a time to talk with me and get all your questions answered here:
Learn if it is for you:
We get started on June 3rd, schedule now so we can get you set up for success!
- You Probably Owe Yourself More Downtime - July 29, 2020
- Maximizing Certainty: How to Plan When So Much is Unsure - July 13, 2020
- What’s Interfering With Your Productivity This Summer? - June 30, 2020