4 Things I Wish I Knew Earlier as a College Student

#1: Network. Network. Network. 

Spend time getting to know your professors, mentors, classmates, authors of journal articles (yes, you can reach out and communicate with them!), blog authors, books, etc. I missed too many opportunities earlier on because I was so shy, and afraid to meet people, or felt like I would say something goofy. It is amazing the willingness people have to talk with you, let you know about their research, writing, or area of passion. Any chance you have to interact with others, take advantage! It could possibly save you time later in your education, but it will absolutely keep your mind open and the gears grinding.

One thing I let people know later in my PhD work was how passionate I was about the area I was researching (personal and professional experiences of downsizing managers). When I let that secret out, people began asking me how the process was going and what I was learning. This got me out of several slumps, as I was so excited to talk with others about my research.

Another way to build relationships and meet others in through social media. I have met so many awesome people via Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and numerous other social media platforms. Those have become great friendships and support systems for me. Use hashtags (#) alongside terms that you are interested, and find groups, pages, and connections that you can begin networking. I did this with the terms #leadership, #phd, #graduate #management when I first took to social media after graduating (yet, had I realized the benefit, I would have done this search years earlier).

#2: Manage your time.

Take advantage of any waiting I used to take a book or article with me almost everywhere when I was in school. If I had to wait at an appointment, or when picking someone up to go out, or even waiting for a meeting to begin, I would pull that out and use the time to my advantage.

Another great way to manage your time is through time blocking. This provides an opportunity to determine the time that should be focused on your studies, family commitments, friends time, working out, relaxing, and so on. If you have difficult spending too much given time focused on something (say a two-hour study block), then use the Pomodoro technique where you set a timer for 15-20 minutes and focus on the task at hand during that time. When the timer goes off, you take 5-10 minutes to get up and walk away, taking a break from that. Repeat the Pomodoro technique during your time block and you will have results and not be exhausted.

Securing an accountability partner is another great way to manage your time. You can run things by that person, and they can help you to stay aligned with your goals, and provide feedback or criticism to help you get back on track when you start to fall.

#3: Dig a little deeper.

One thing I did during my earlier PhD days was to take two elective writing classes that built upon each other. I knew that would help prepare me for my upcoming coursework, as well as the amount of writing I would be tasked to complete during my dissertation milestone. I encourage you to consider signing up for an additional course, workshop, webinar, seminar, etc. that will help you build the skill set(s) you need to be successful in your studies and beyond.

Another way to dig deeper is to really take the knowledge and feedback of your professors and mentors and look at ways to integrate and improve your work. Don’t get offended when they slaughter your paper. Instead, take it as a learning opportunity and find ways to improve.

Use the mindmapping technique to expand upon your ideas. This is a great tool, especially for individuals that are visual. I learned this when I was in middle school from Sandy, a schoolteacher friend of my mom. It has served me well, as I have continued to use the technique to this day, even beyond the college classroom and into the workplace.

#4: Don’t be so hard on yourself.

I can’t stress this enough. You can be emotional – college is a giant growing pain for many. The key is to make sure you don’t stay in that emotional purgatory for too long. Reach out to your support, or (back to Tip #1), network and find support along your journey. Sometimes the most understanding of your situation are those that are in it like you. I could get support and feedback from my fellow classmates and other college students. My connections in social media that had similar experiences as mine have also been extremely supportive in helping me to get back on my feet after the emotional whirlwind that hit.

Pat yourself on the back – this is HARD stuff! Not everyone goes to college and you should realize why – it’s not easy. Give yourself a little break every occasionally.

Lastly, some people start college and shit happens. Maybe it is a personal or family event, or maybe college isn’t right for you, whether that means right now or permanently. It’s not for everyone and there are other opportunities outside of college that can be taken. Don’t stress over it or worry about whatever judgment people might pass on you if your decision is to move forward without college. Don’t live your life to please others. Do what is right for you.

 

Minimizing the Impact of Electronic Messages

It is bad enough that a person may not focus on someone that is speaking to them, or on a topic that they should be focused (whether to be informed or provide support). Has there ever been a time when you took time and careful attention to crafting a written message and you find out that the recipient merely glanced at it, but didn’t capture the entire message?

With the busy-ness of today’s world, there are several individuals that never seem to fully read an email. Either they read the first line or two or maybe only the last line, and respond. Better yet – what about no response at all! That’s a real punch in the gut.

Granted, everyone has a ridiculous amount of papers and electronic messages that come across their desk each hour. Whether these messages fall into the delete, file, quick response, or thought-required response, there always seems to be a consistent flow of messages in and out. It can be difficult to stay out of the inbox when someone knows that for every item reviewed or worked, there are likely to be 10 or more to replace it soon after.

Instant gratification – more so with the advent of enhanced technology, has resulted in an acceleration of the flow of messages, and therefore an increased feeling of busy-ness. For managers, I imagine this is the worst, as there may be numerous members of the manager’s team, as well as peers, senior leaders, and business partners, pinging the crap out of the manager at any given time. Makes me visualize someone ducking for cover and waiving the white flag to surrender to the madness. Instant messaging and texting are amazing technological advances, but can be intimidating if you allow them that control. Have you ever sent a message and tried to patiently sit there, waiting for the little pencil or the three dots to show on your screen, reflecting that the recipient is writing a response? Think about that moment when you see the response starting, and then it stops, and doesn’t start back up within a minute or two. Arrrh!!!

When it comes to electronic messages, what can you do to minimize the impact on others and increase your chances of getting a response?

Here are a few tips for electronic communication to others:

  1. Consider who your audience is and whether they are primary to the information / request (include in the To: line), or secondary and maybe just need to have an awareness of the information / request (include in the cc: line). Identify your audience prior to writing the e-mail, but I highly recommend waiting to put their e-mail addresses in the To: and CC: lines until after your e-mail is crafted and ready to send. Think about this, how easy could it be to accidentally hit the send button amid drafting the e-mail. Even if you are doing a reply or reply to all, you can easily cut and paste the To: and CC: line addresses into the top of the e-mail body, then cutting and pasting them back up there once you are ready to send. This may be super precautious, but it could just save your butt some day!
  2. Make sure your subject line or header is clear. If you are requesting approval, consider putting ‘PLEASE APPROVE: [Topic] by MM/DD’ or ‘FEEDBACK REQUESTED: [Topic] by MM/DD’ in the subject line so that the person can quickly identify the need and urgency before the communication is opened or reviewed further.
  3. The body of your communication should be clear, simple, and to the point. Think about how many e-mails or paper documents people receive, and how great it would be if you were in their shoes, to receive a message that was simple to understand. Use short paragraphs, spacing, bulleted or numbered lists, etc. Also make sure a reminder at the end of your message as to your request or ‘ask’ (if there is one).
  4. Is an attachment needed? If so, limit the number and size of attachments. In addition, after you attach, and before you send the e-mail, open the attachment to confirm it is the correct document and most updated version of the document.
  5. For the love of all English teachers out there, run a spelling and grammar check on your message before sending. A default option would be to copy and paste the text into a Word document and run the check. Better safe than sorry!
  6. Last, if you are preparing an uber important communication, consider having a trusted source review it prior to adding your audience and sending. I don’t recommend this all the time (you are an adult and should be responsible enough to do the work you need to do), but it doesn’t hurt when there is something big and crazy important, and may be seen by leadership or many eyes, to get a second opinion before sending.

Are there other tips you would recommend when it comes to ensuring a clear understanding and response to an electronic message? Click over to my FaceBook group and share on the blog post comments there!

Tracy’s Top 5 Time Management Tips for College Students

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Balancing college on top of everything else life throws at you may seem like a near impossible task, whether as a first-time student or if you are going back to school as an adult. Trust me – I was there for 16 years…and survived to talk about it today! One area that comes up time and again when I talk with college students is that of enhancing their time management skills. Here are 7 tips for college students to explore to better manage their time.

  1. Use waiting to your advantageThink about how much time you spend waiting, whether it is in line at the bank, pharmacy, store or waiting on the phone for a customer service representative. Those are just a few examples, but it is amazing how much time you spend waiting – typically an hour or more each day. Take your textbook, books, journal articles, notebooks, highlighter, pen, etc. with you in your purse, car, or bag. When you find those moments that you need to wait for someone or something, use it to your advantage and dive into that school work. My favorite was taking journal articles, a highlighter, and pen, as these were typically easier reads and not difficult to break up into different periods of waiting I had throughout the day.
  2. Try out the Pomodoro techniqueIf you have not heard of the Pomodoro technique by now, I am a bit surprised, and know that you will likely LOVE this! My husband told me not long ago that it’s amazing how much house cleaning he could complete within 15 minutes. The Pomodoro aligns with this, in that you set a timer for a short period of time (maybe 20-30 minutes) and keep focused on a task. Once the timer dings, you set it to take a break (maybe 5-7 minutes), and then re-cycle through the process as many times as you need. A friend of mine completed 6 Pomodoro sessions in one day and was enthusiastic at her ability to make such progress.
  3. Create time blocksA physical or electronic calendar can be used to create blocks of time in which a specific focus is identified. For example, I blocked out 4 hours on a Thursday morning to work on a specific work action item. You can utilize time blocking for standard items (e.g., studying for Biology class, going to the gym, watching Game of Thrones), or you can use time blocking for
    ad-hoc type needs, such as the example I provided. Creating and sticking to time blocks allow you to design and execute your schedule with focus in mind.
  4. Secure an accountability partner or groupTo ensure you are staying aligned with your goals and using your time wisely, an accountability partner or group can support you, keep you honest, help you back up when you struggle, and cheer you on as you reach your goals. Consider a trial period for accountability with someone and see if it proves beneficial for you. I have goals and meet with a group once a week and provide an update and get feedback when I get stuck, which has been helpful to keeping me on track and is providing me with valuable support and encouragement along the way.
  5. Take a break!While it may feel like you are making real progress by going full steam ahead 24×7, it will lead to burn out and is dangerous. Don’t do it! Make sure to give yourself permission to take a break. It may be a small break, such as getting up and moving to another place in the house, walking with a friend or your pup, or, watching your favorite movie or television show; or a larger break, like volunteering for a day or taking a well-deserved vacation. Don’t let yourself get carried away with this “break” time though, as you still have work to do. It is a matter of finding the right balance, where you are making progress, yet also taking time for yourself.

Which of these tips have you already used? What was the outcome?

 

Published on LinkedIn Publisher by Tracy Shroyer on May 11, 2016

My Class Ring

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“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”
– Booker T. Washington

In high school, my parents gave me to option to have either a letter jacket or a class ring. At that time, and being a member of the band, it was a much cooler option to go with the jacket. I had a school letter to put on it and was able to fit in with so many other band and classmates at football games. It was more about fitting in for me during those years.

Fast forward to around 2008… I was in Chicago attending a required residency for my PhD program. There was a Jostens class ring table set up for a few days of the event, allowing learners to take advantage of purchasing their cap and gown, graduation invitations, class rings, and more. I was still a couple years out from graduation, but for some reason I was yearning for a class ring. My thought was that I would start wearing it once it was delivered to keep up the motivation to finish my program. I splurged and bought a beautiful ring, with the maroon colored stone for my university’s color, the letters PhD on one side and 2010 on the other side, and a little diamond chip on either side too. When it was delivered, I was ecstatic and began wearing it proudly.

What happened from there? You guessed it – life happened. While the ring was a piece of motivation to me, it wasn’t enough to get me to the graduation stage in 2010. That year came and went and I remained at the dissertation writing table making progress – slowly, but surely. Numerous classmates that had the vision of graduating in or around 2010 posted comments and pictures of their diplomas. The dissertation process took much longer than I had planned, which I should have suspected with my sensitive topic, trying to continue working full-time, and anything else life threw at me during those challenging years. Regardless, I continued wearing that ring.

Fast forward to the fall of 2013…I had completed my program requirements and officially graduated with my PhD on January 31, 2013 and walked the graduation stage in Long Beach, California that spring (with that same class ring still on my finger). That fall, I was going through some items and found my paperwork and the ring box from Jostens that I had received so many years earlier. I went to the Jostens website and was trying to find out if there was an affordable and easy way to get the graduation year changed on my ring, since it was now official. I printed out the form and filled it out – I believe the price was less than $30 to get the year changed on the ring. The completed form remained on my desk for a couple months, and for some reason I did not mail it in. One day, I looked at the completed form and then looked at my ring. I shredded the form and decided to keep the ring exactly as it was.

The reminder of continuing to strive towards my goal, despite being years off about when it would happen reminded me how I achieved so much more in my journey towards that diploma. The growth a person goes through during life experiences, good and bad, is simply amazing. Every time I look down at my class ring now, I’m reminded of that.

 

 

Published on LinkedIn Publisher by Tracy Shroyer on May 2, 2016

How to Get Out of a Funk – Step #1: Secure an Accountability Partner

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Accountability. It is something that many people feel they can do on their own, but the truth is that, a majority of the time, you need some external form of support. When I was working on my dissertation, I found the process to be an emotional roller coaster. On top of life happening around me, I was doing my best to dedicate myself to researching and writing my dissertation.

There was a period of time when I thought I would not be able to make the finish line.

I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and unable to think straight was where I took up residence.

That was, until a classmate of mine, Sandy, and I talked. We talked through the struggles I was facing as well as opportunities I had to help get me out of that funk and get focused again. She advised that she would be my accountability partner, and we agreed upon how that relationship would work. For an unknown period of days, I would focus on doing something related to my research for a minimum of 15 minutes each day. It could be writing, editing, or researching, but I had to spend that minimum amount of time being focused on dissertation-related work. At the end of each day, I would e-mail Sandy and let her know what I did during my 15 minutes that day, as well as what I was planning to do the next day.

I admit that the first week was difficult, as I was feeling at the bottom of that roller coaster, exhausted and frustrated, filled with self-doubt about my abilities to do what I needed to do.

During that first week, those 15-minutes each day was a bit of a struggle.

As I got into the process of being held accountable, and planning ahead, my 15 minutes turned into 30 minutes, and then an hour or longer. Yes, there were still some days where 15 minutes was the maximum due to other obligations (e.g., my full-time job). What I noticed though is that I was able to get back on track and get interested in my work again.

During that few months that Sandy accepted my daily e-mails, there were two occasions where I did nothing and failed to send my evening update. I don’t remember why I missed those two days, but I know I didn’t send those e-mails on purpose. I was worried because I had not kept my end of the bargain. I felt like I was not only disappointing myself, but also my accountability partner. She was great and called me out on it, but in a delicate way to ask what was going on and how she could help.

Do you need a formal accountability partner set-up all the time? No. Throughout my life, the times when I went looking for an accountability partner, through a friend, co-worker, or life/career coach, was when I needed support, encouragement, and a bit of a kick in the butt to get moving. I needed to hear what I may not have wanted to hear, and for someone to challenge me to do what I knew I could do, but some fear was holding me back from doing it. In each of those instances, I learned something about myself and made significant strides in my life.

When have you secured an accountability partner? What was the outcome?

 

Published on LinkedIn Publisher by Tracy Shroyer on April 28, 2106

“Clear the Clutter, Clear Your Mind”

 

 

IMG_1015Do you have a dedicated space for homework or to work from home? Is it functional?

 

What does your bedroom closet look like right now? How much time does it take you to find something to wear each morning?

 

Is there a junk room in your house or apartment? Or has every room turned into a junk room?

 

If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of the questions above, you have room to create some efficiency in your life (pun intended). The phrase “clear the clutter, clear your mind” is so true! I speak from experience!

 

Let’s start with the bedroom closet. There are 2 humongous walk in closets in my master bedroom. One could have been turned into a small bathroom with a stand up shower, had the original owner added that feature (or us, if we felt the urge and found the money to do so). My husband took the smaller of the closets, the long and narrow one; whereas I took the larger, more square shaped closet. I’ll tell you about my closet space and experience, because his still sits piled high with baskets and boxes of clothing and other stuff. I decided to tackle cleaning up my closet last year, and was able to fill 6 large trash bags with clothes to donate and 1 bag with clothes to trash. I made room to add shelves, a necklace hanger the hubby made for me, and 2 dressers – one small and one large. It is quite nice now, and I can easily find what I need quickly, without much searching around. It’s also much easier to put clothes away after washing, as everything pretty much has its place. So, how did I get it from piled high and not able to step in the doorway anymore to cleaned up and manageable?

 

The first step I took was to get two large boxes and write ‘Keep’ and ‘Donate’ on separate sheets of paper and tape those to the boxes. I also got a large trash bag and hung it on the door knob for trash. I started at the first pile near the door and began to sort. If I couldn’t decide where something should go, I either put it in ‘Keep’ or put it on the bed so I could decide later. This process took many hours and was broken up into several days. When I was overwhelmed and ready to take a break, I stopped, piled the boxes on top of each other in the corner of the room and took the trash out. One rule of thumb that can be used is, if something hasn’t been worn or used in 6 or 12 months, donate or trash it. This was helpful to me, and other than a few sentimental items, made it easy to sort. While it is a tiring exercise, it is well worth the reward at the end – the ability to use that space and find what you need to keep moving throughout your day! Consider all the other things you could be doing during the 30 minutes it takes you to find the perfect shirt or pair of pants to wear in the morning.

 

I have tried several times to arrange a work space within my larger spare room that made it inviting to work in and spend time in, especially outside of a work from home kind of day, when I needed to concentrate on writing a blog post or other Beyond the Stone Wall business needs. I used to have two 8 foot tables that met in the corner of the room. This provided me with a significant amount of desk space, but swallowed up much of the room and ended up getting cluttered very quickly. I started throwing extra boxes/buckets/etc. on the floor and piling up papers on one end of the desk. It became extremely uninviting, and I ended up working from home several days during that time at the kitchen table instead of in the dedicated office space I had! I took the same approach to my office space as I had my closet, with the two boxes (keep or donate) and one bag for trash. I decided to take out one of the 8 foot tables, install shelves for my books (and remove the three large bookcases that were crowding in the room, and added a cubed shelving unit (3×4) and a half-sized bookcase unit with doors for my printer.

 

Although it sounds like I added a LOT, I took out so much! I had to make sure that what I put back into that room wasn’t nearly as much as what I took out (or I’d wind up in the same predicament). With the pieces of furniture, I have now, I was able to hide my ‘keep’ items nicely. Not only did I remove three large bookcases, I narrowed down my book collection to what would fit on three 6 foot shelves. I also went through all of the scrapbook and crafting materials I had, and filled my entire trunk full of items to give to a friend for her two young girls to enjoy. Even recently, I went through two file cabinet drawers (that are in the office closet) and purged about 80% of the paper there. A majority of that was from my undergrad and graduate classes – notes I had and papers I wrote. I kept a few, but realized I would NEVER look at the rest (and had not really looked at them since I graduated with my MBA in 2006)!

 

The feeling I had when I was able to use that space again was amazing. It is much easier to keep clean, I make an effort to put things back in their place after using them, and trash items that are only temporary or no longer needed. It is a space that I enjoy spending time in, and typically go to when my husband is at work. Instead of watching TV in the living room, I enjoy spending time in the office with windows open, a candle lit, music in the background, and surrounded by an organized area. It has allowed me to focus on what is at hand, instead of holding on to the stress of a pile of paper here, or boxes of junk in the corner, bookshelves gathering dust, etc.

 

Have you taken the time in the last six months to do a good cleaning of a space in your home or apartment? I’d love to hear the process you used, and how that space makes you feel now!

 

After pictures of my home office, and how it remains today (including the one at the top of this post)…

 

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Meeting Mayhem: How to Control an Out of Hand Attendee List

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Just because an individual receives an invitation to a meeting does not mean they must attend. The lines seem to have blurred between the ‘required’ line in a meeting invite and the ‘cc’ or ‘fyi’ line – often times more so for attendees themselves than for the meeting organizers.
Three questions to ponder here:

1. Why is this?

2. How do we fix this?

3. What if we don’t fix it?

There are some individuals that believe their attendance at meetings equals their importance in the organization. Their “visual” presence, whether via in person, on the virtual presentation screen, as a caller in the conference line, etc. reminds people that they exist. They exist and are a part of the organization.

Take a step back and consider how many of the individuals in your last meeting actually spoke.

Problem-Solving Personnel
Not to say that speaking equals importance, rather think about those who really contributed to the core issue being discussed. Those individuals who really knew what they were talking about and had the knowledge needed to solve the problem.

Awesome Administratives
Now, think about which of the individuals in that meeting needed to hear the problem-solving as it was happening – play by play. These may be individuals that fit into the first category, or maybe these are employees in training and learning the process, or those that are facilitating or taking notes for those in the first category (the latter being the administrative roles of meetings).

Results-Driven Radicals
Did the individuals above need to hear the process of solving the issue at hand, or did they instead really only need to know the final decision? Often times, managers, unless there are issues or conflicts during the problem solving process, will be presented with recommendations or decisions made by the team as a result of the meeting — after the meeting has taken place.

Lonely Lingerers
Lastly, there are often lingerers, or individuals that have asked to be invited, barged in, or were not sure if they should decline or not (maybe those people that feel that, if they are invited, they need to go to the meeting). Basically, you don’t know why they are there, and often, they don’t really know either.

 

Now, take a look at the attendees at a meeting you recently attended where you or others thought maybe it was a bit too jam packed. Go through the attendee list and break out those individuals into the 4 categories above. How many people are eliminated because they fell into one of the last 2 buckets?

 

If you walked through the above exercise and are in a land of meeting overload, you are probably thinking holy schnikeys!
So, how do we fix this? Here are a few hard and fast tips to help provide clarity in these situations:

 

  • Think about this — the meeting organizer is the gatekeeper. That person typically determines who is or can be included in the invitation for a particular meeting. That person needs to strongly consider the four types of meeting attendees, and ensure that only problem-solving personnel and amazing administratives are included on the invite list. The meeting organizer may not always be popular as a result of this, but imagine ALL the time and energy it will save those who do not really need to be there in the first place!

 

  • Do not use ‘cc’ or ‘fyi’ on meetings, as those individuals falling into these categories may feel a need to come anyway (lonely lingerers), or not understand what their role is in the process. Instead, if there are other people that you do not need in the meeting, but want to ensure are informed of meeting results (primarily the results-driven radicals), tell them you will include them in on the meeting notes.

 

  • If you want to ensure results-driven radicals know a meeting will happen, send them a brief note to let them know beforehand, while also including that “no need to attend the meeting, as meeting notes will be sent afterwards.” If escalations or approvals are needed as a result of discussion within the meeting, that should be assigned to the appropriate individual within the meeting to take away.

 

  • Are you a results-driven radical or a lonely lingerer that has been invited to a meeting you know you don’t really need to attend? It’s your responsibility to ensure the meeting organizer is aware of your role and your need, if one exists (e.g., if you need meeting notes, in order to see recommendations, impacts, and/or decisioning made). If you are in one of these categories and NOT pushing back, you are only failing your team and wasting your own precious time.

 

Here is the issue with not fixing this growing problem. First, the problem will continue to swell and the number of meetings needed to attempt to fix a problem will multiply immensely. Second, consider the pure number of man hours being WASTED by not fixing this growing issue. We already waste on average 1 hour of time per day, but that number is significantly understated if we consider the number of meetings people attend on a DAILY basis that do not directly impact them, or that they cannot get the results of afterwards.

 

It is up to meeting organizers take action when results-driven radicals and lonely lingerers attempt to creep into the invite list. It is also the meeting attendee’s responsibility to ensure they are only attending meetings where they fall into the problem-solving personnel or amazing administratives roles for a specific meeting. If not, get the hell off the meeting invite and use that time wisely!

 

Action Planning 101

Have you ever developed an action plan?
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An action plan can be compared to developing a road map to meet the goals of a person or organization. Individuals or groups use action plans to help further detail the process to implementing their goals.

 

If an action plan is developed at the on-set of a project or a year, and never looked at again, they are not useful. It is important that an action plan is reviewed and updated on a regular basis after its initial design. Reviewing and making updates serves as a method of accountability, ensuring that the person or people involved in the actions noted within the plan stay on task.

 

There are many instances when an action plan is beneficial. Here are a few examples:

  • An individual may develop an action plan to break out their fitness goals and align them with specifics tasks, time frames, and methods to stay accountable.
  • A business owner may use an action plan to determine the path to meeting or exceeding forecasted results and/or improved productivity.
  • Managers and their teams in a corporate environment may use action plans to detail next steps as a result of employee feedback in an annual survey.

 

When developing an action plan, it is important to include the who, what, when, and how for each task.

  • Who represents the person(s) responsible for a specified task. If the action plan is for an individual, the who is likely to be that person, whereas if the action plan is for a team, one or more individuals within the team would be assigned to each task.
  • What is a detailed description of what tasks need completed to reach the goal. Identify several tasks that will need completed in order to reach the larger goals. These can easily be organized with the use of bullet points within your action plan.
  • When represents the time frame in which assigned who will complete thejourney2 action plan item. Time frames should be set realistically, and have a clear start and/or stop date. Using the time frame of ‘ongoing’ is not helpful to implementing the task, as there is no indication when the action will begin or end. If unsure of whether there is a specific end date, include an evaluation date in the place of an end date. This will allow the individual or group to take a look at the task to evaluate its effectiveness at that point, and determine whether to continue or end the specific action.
  • How is the specifics of what will be done to carry out the specified task. Consider whether help is needed from other individuals or teams to complete the task? Will the assigned who need to request access, sign up for membership somewhere, or reach out to a person or organization, to help complete the task?


Considering developing an action plan to take your goals from
words on a paper to actions in real-life?

 

Free Stuff

 

FREE Action Plan Template

FREE 12-minute Action Plan instructional video

 

 

 

 

Prioritization is Key

People have used to-do lists for many years, whether on a piece of paper or electronically (I am really enjoying the Asana app right now)! While to-do lists are helpful, they can get out of hand quickly. What I mean by this is that the number of items on your list has the ability to grow exponentially. All control goes out the window and anxiety creeps in as your list(s) grow longer by the minute, hour, or day.

Prioritization aligns tasks in an orderly fashion, helping the list maker determine the appropriate order in which each item needs completed. With people holding numerous roles and taking on more depending on the day, prioritization is critical to achieving success. Without it, everything is considered equal, and each item has the potential to be both important and urgent.

To ensure I maintain my sanity, I have had to learn the art of saying “no” to some opportunities that come my way. Setting goals and prioritizing has helped me rid myself of the guilt that used to come with saying no. There have also been times when I have said no to something I would enjoy, because it would not be worth the expense of throwing off my current balance.

prioritizeBelow are a few exercises you might consider to help prioritize all that you have to do.

  • Stoplight Game: The stoplight approach is where you look at all that you are doing and drop those tasks into 3 distinct buckets: (1) what I can stop doing; (2) what can I do less of; and (3) what can I start doing? This is a helpful exercise for individuals and teams. Once you develop your goals, this exercise becomes even more helpful, as you align what you are doing to your goals and begin to see value-add and non value-add tasks appear, making it a bit easier to see what falls into each of the three buckets.

 

  • ABCs and 123s: In a planner or notebook, write down all of the items that you need to do for the day. Next to them, write A, B, or C based on how high of a priority they are (A is highest priority, B is next highest, etc.). From there, prioritize your A items by adding 1, 2, 3, and then move and apply the same to the B items, etc. Now, you are able to work from A1, A2, B1, B2, etc. to complete your action items. For some individuals, this exercise may be overwhelming, whereas it may be the perfect match for someone that is extremely detail oriented.

 

  • Top 3: In the morning, write down the top 3 action items you need to accomplish during the day. If nothing else, you need to get those items completed. One consideration is to ensure your items are not HUGE tasks, but reasonable to complete during the day. Keep this list near you throughout the day as a reminder of what your focus should be. A friend of mine uses post-it notes for this approach and puts them on the wall in front of her work station.

 

What other approaches do you use, or have you used, to help prioritize all that is on your plate? 

Episode 95 Beyond The Stone Wall with Dr. Tracy Shroyer

So excited to share an awesome interview that Gail Foley​ from One Awesome Community​ provided me with the opportunity to do this week! I had a great time talking with Gail and hope that you enjoy this podcast interview and also subscribe to get Gail’s podcasts sent via email to you daily! She is so energetic & puts a smile on my face every morning on my way to work.

Episode 95 Beyond The Stone Wall with Dr. Tracy Shroyer.