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22 Nov 2015

3 steps to getting to the end of the year!

by Melanie Franklin

I was inspired to write this blog because with only 4 working weeks to Christmas it’s time to strip away unnecessary work and focus on the priorities.

Step 1 – be creative

I know this is advice about getting things done but the first step is to always ensure that you are doing the right things. This means thinking creatively and thinking laterally and not just concentrating on all of the ‘knowns’. Your current to do list is a product of all the requests you have received from others, essential tasks you have identified and a few extras that you know will increase quality or satisfaction.

What about the ‘unknowns’? The things you haven’t had a chance to consider, your flashes of inspiration that tap into your skill-set and give you a personal sense of motivation because you value them and they give you a chance to use your skills? Finding the ‘unknowns’ involves putting aside the pressure of your current To Do list and just for a moment asking yourself “If I had all the time in the world what would I like to get done by the end of the year? What would give me a real sense of accomplishment?” These ideas might include trying out new things, fixing existing problems that cause you a low level of persistent annoyance or investing in yourself and developing some new skills. Add your Unknowns to the Knowns and move onto Step 2.

Step 2 – making choices

Now you have a full list of all the possible things you could be doing its time to be ruthless. Some might be essential, some might be nice to have and some might be a great idea but now isn’t the best time to act on them.

Keep things simple and use a well respected prioritisation technique. MoSCoW is simple but effective, allocating your tasks to 4 categories:

  • Must have – if you don’t do this work, there will be consequences. You will be in trouble, or things won’t be finished and won’t work properly. These items are non-negotiable but make sure they are not the only tasks you plan to do. If they are, you leave yourself with no wiggle room if they take longer than planned. If you include some less important tasks in your To Do list then if things don’t go well you can leave them out and still get all of the Must Haves done.
  • Should Haves are those things that help other things get done. They all the wheels, they provide features and devices that other people want but could live without if they had to. To decide between Must and Should ask our self if there is a workaround, an alternative way of working that could be out in place temporarily. Can people wait a few weeks for the ask to be completed? If the answer is yes then these tasks are a Should and not a Must.
  • Could haves are those little extras that would be great to get finished. Be ruthless and ask yourself if they were not there what the consequences would be.
  • Won’t haves are likely to be found when you do Step 3 because when you create your plan.

Step 3 – getting organised

Keep it simple – the first things you plan to do are your Must haves. Then come Should haves and Could haves.

The key to effective planning is honesty about the amount of time you have available and the amount of time things really take. So how much time do you really have to get your work done? Are there any extra events that you need to factor in? Family events which you know are coming but you are ignoring because you don’t know exactly when they are? The number of evening social events that make working late impossible. The organisational norm that no-one really does much work on Christmas Eve because everyone goes home early?

Be honest with real time you have or risk going into the holiday season with the horrible feeling that you left things half finished and the pressure to play catch up before everyone returns to work in the new year.

Melanie Franklin
22nd November 2015