Taking the Long View
Over the holidays, my family and I had a chance to get some skiing in. It was typical East Coast conditions hard pack surface and fast. In those conditions, my tendency is to look just at the tip of my skis, keeping my eyes focused on my immediate “future.” The fallacy in this practice is that I don’t look far enough ahead to anticipate changes in the snow. A divot left by the grooming machine, icy snowballs skiers call death cookies, or a patch of crud can unseat me, literally. Thus the rather large bruise on my left hip.
When I’m in my groove, I look three turns ahead. I don’t look at my ski tips at all. I am focused on looking down the slope to where I am going and predict the turns or adjustments I need to make to get there.
I think most of us are looking at the tips of our skis most of the time. Constantly working on what is the next immediate thing, leaving no time for adjustments.
For 2015, consider taking the 10,000 foot view. That is, look at your work or your business from a higher level. Step back from your daily activities to view the bigger picture.
Do this by taking a look at your 2015 in the long view. Literally look at the whole year. I suggest you use a great but simple tool called a Year at a Glance calendar. It is a wall calendar you can buy in any office supply store. It displays the whole year in one view. If not that then, minimally go through your computer or hard copy calendar one month at a time. Plot big ticket items. For me, that is travel for gigs. For you, it may be project due dates or milestones, conferences, presentations, audits, launch dates, or board of directors meetings. For all of us, it should be vacations.
Plotting a whole year’s worth of important / not urgent dates does two things. First, it gets those dates out of your head and onto a concrete platform. One that can be viewed and, possibly, massaged.
The second is that it shows each event in relation to each other. One of my first clients was an antique dealer. Her marketing strategy was to attend antique shows in her three-state area. She collected a smattering of post cards, brochures, and flyers. Each represented a show which she was sure would be a good fit for her business. She had every intentions of attending everyone of them. It wasn’t until we plotted out each show in relation to each other that she realized it was counterproductive to attend them all. She was then able to pick and choose which shows truly represented the best opportunities for her.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing our deadlines or commitments, but by looking at them in the long view, we can at least be aware of them and implement what wiggle room is available.
Color code your calendar to represent the variety of commitments. I use blue for seminar training, green for consultation clients, red for conferences, and orange for the actual travel days. These colors are also reflected in my Outlook calendar. This lets me know instantly whether I can take on another event based on the type of gig that is already in the books.
Additionally, I suggest you plan four big project items for 2015 and decide to do them one per quarter. Home based projects need to be viewed in the long view as well. Consider home repair items, redecorating, landscaping, or purchases. A friend of mine does all painting projects in the fall. That’s it. If a room needs to be painted, it goes on the schedule for the fall. No agonizing over when are we going to get to this? It gets done in the fall. Brilliant!
Seeing events in relation to each other is like thoughtfully choosing the right preposition. Prepositions define one word in relation to another word. Prepositions like before, after, over, and under each convey a distinct difference in position. So too, can your 10,000 view help you distinguish, plan, and adjust as death cookies loom!