How can writing down plans and your progress help you get to where you want to be?
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Journals can boost your productivity; keeping one helps you develop goals and provides a framework for achieving them. It is your own accountability buddy. It becomes the guide, the compass, which you can use to manage your time and activities.
Most of us are tired of hearing about silver bullets and quick routes to success (most sane people recognise that these are nonsense).
The reality is that most decision-makers do struggle to find a simpler, easier and more effective way to create plans. Even then, they struggle to find a way to monitor and deliver on those plans on a week-by-week and month-by-month basis.
But most people still feel that there must be an even better way to nail the problem, “How do I create and deliver on my goals and plans?”
And even if the business piece is working then there is still a secondary question that often gets missed, “Yes, I am hitting my business goals but my private life still doesn’t seem to be working.” So, how can that be nailed as well?
My experience (as business owner and director, as well as advisor and consultant to fast-growth businesses) has shown us that the problem could be divided simply into defining goals and then creating a system or process to monitor and evaluate performance. On a regular basis.
So, what can Journaling do for you?
It is a method of articulating what it is you seek and how to achieve the goal
One of the great things about journaling is how it keeps asking the “Where are you now? Where are you going? How are you going to get there?” type questions. In the flurry of day-to-day activity we often get lost and lose perspective. Journaling keeps bringing you back to the “Why?” question. Why are we doing this? What is the purpose?
It is a place to store great ideas, notes or novel concepts
It is great jotting things on Post-Its but sometimes it is better to store all those ideas in one place. Such a place can become a treasure trove of great ideas.
It is an opportunity to step back and reflect
Once a week you can review the week just gone (and preview the week ahead). This is a great discipline to get into. You can check lessons learned. As little as 15 minutes on, say, a Sunday night, can prove invaluable.
It is an opportunity to prepare yourself for the coming week, to get your ducks in a row
At the same time as reviewing the week just gone, you can preview the week ahead. One exercise morphs into the next. What did I learn? What do I need to do better? What’s the one thing I need to nail next week?
It is an opportunity to apply serious time management and prioritisation to your busy schedule -way better than any ‘to do’ list
Beware of the tyranny of ‘to do’ lists. Endless lists that become your raison d’etre. Push activities off the ‘to do’ list and into the schedule. Commit a set amount of time and only do what you want to do. Kill the ‘to do’ list!
It keeps you on the straight and narrow, reminding you of what is (and what is not) important
Blinded by our own apparent self-importance and busy-ness we often lose sight of what it is that we are actually trying to achieve. Regular use of a journal reminds you of your ambitions and goals and challenges and makes sure that your current activities are relevant to theses bigger goals.
It is like a teacher – you learn from the process
The process of reflection is a great teacher. We learn about ourselves and what does and does not work for us.
You see and hear yourself as if you were an outsider
Bizarrely, the journaling habit is that of a voyeur. Part of you acts as observer, watching your own actions and activities as if from a distance. Spooky but very informative.
It is a place to build your dreams step by step, week by week, month by month
The regular use of a journal enables you to see your small actions creating a larger whole, systematically. Progress (too fast or too slow) gets constantly monitored and evaluated and you can adjust your tactics and strategies as you feel fit.
It is a safe harbour
The journal does not judge you. It is neutral. It is a place you can visit without fear of being judged by others. It is a space that you own for yourself.
Robert is the co-author, with Adam Harris, of the Check-In Strategy Journal (published by Wiley); a tool to map out your strategy and plans in real time, on paper, and map out your annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals and targets.
It enables you to measure and monitor your results. It offers feedback, ideas and pointers to help you improve your performance.