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Track Changes – capturing the fine-tuning of creation

screenshot of document filled with mark-ups and track changes

My book is just 1/2 way there. I write about habits, goals, planning and the like …and I missed my own August 2014 deadline. It wasn’t for lack of trying or regular writing. The ideas just needed to get clearer, the “killing the darlings” process is mentally tiring, and overcoming the lizard brain (quoting Seth Godin – “the part of you that controls you, makes you afraid, and pushes you because it says you’re a failure”) was surprisingly difficult. After all, who would want to read what I write?

As a non-writer person (lots of ideas and stories, but not great at explaining them), this is quite the process!screenshot of document filled with mark-ups and track changes

I’m worried about deleting all of these thoughts and ideas. What if I leave out something that was the main point? What if the life changing phrase is mistakenly deleted?

This is where the beauty of “tracking changes” comes in to play. I can save the tracked changes daily and start the next day with a new draft called “accepted changes.” Sure, I’ve now got 35 files stacking up in the My Documents folder, but it is a relief to track this mental and physical process of re-arranging, refining, and refreshing the content. 

Aren’t we lucky that we can change? And, that we can track it? The use of apps to track calories, bike riding, running, and debt reduction is a major signal to the power of tracking the changes we make in our lives. We get to see where we were, where we are going and get excited about where we may end up. It’s about growth, adventure, and new horizons while capturing the junky-ness of the journey.

Also helpful, is a morgue file of sorts – a document that I can copy/paste my unused quotes and notes just in case I need them later or …for another book. If anything, it provides mental relief to my non-writer soul. The thought is preserved.

There are quite a few writing gurus out there that have a lot to share about the writing process – what tools to use, what process to go through, and how to become a millionaire eBook creator. I’ll learn what I can from them more in due time.

For now, I’ve got to write, to change, to modify and to morph. And, I’m going to track it!

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Yearly and Monthly Goal Sheet – template sharing

Screenshot of the yearly goal categories

Today in our Nudge Village Group, one of the “villagers” asked about what template I used in the graphic I showed in an earlier post (The To Don’t post) I was sharing.

I have an entire personal management approach that I won’t put entirely in this post, but here are two elements of it.

Yearly Goals 

The yearly goals that are leading me toward my greater purpose, but they aren’t really checklist worthy. I reserve that more for the monthly, weekly, and daily goals and activities.

But, I do create this handy sheet to remember the “big rocks” as I pursue those daily tasks. Yes, I took an extra hour to make it “pretty” because I wanted to enjoy referencing it frequently! Note – it is purposely a bit fuzzy. After all, these are my personal goals. (-:

Screenshot of the yearly goal categories
My yearly goal categories

Monthly Goals

For monthly goals, I do need something that I can write on and reference on a daily basis. Plus, I’ve added the “To Don’t” row to that template because I’ve had to discard some things to make room for something better!

Screenshot of a six month goal categories
Six month goal sheet with categories re-used from my yearly goal sheet

Here’s a copy  in MS Word – Goals_2013_samplebreakdown or  in PDF – Goals_2013_samplebreakdown  if you’d like to replicate it. I’ve actually made mine for six months across the page and I copy it out on a legal or larger size paper. Perhaps I have too many goals! But, I enjoy variety!

Your Approach

This is working for me right now for two areas of goals – yearly and monthly. I have an entirely different method for vision, mission, and life goals as well as my daily tasks and notes. Being a full-time employee and a part-time entrepreneur means there is a bit of juggling between systems, processes, and personal  note keeping because some of my personal management tools aren’t available at work.

But, feel free to share and use. Keep modifying your approach to work for you. Our brains all work a bit differently.

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To Don’t – purposeful not doing

Are you a BIG planner! Life goals, yearly goals, monthly goals, daily to do lists!

New Year's Resolutions - created in November 2000 and posted on the bedroom door poster style
New Year’s Resolutions – created in November 2000 and posted on the bedroom door poster style

List mania? Perhaps.

It feels great to get ideas out of the head and on to paper. But, it can be overwhelming – so many ideas, so many opportunities, so little time.

Years ago a friend gave me a pad of stationary that actually had a “To Don’t” list beside the “To Do” list. We had a good laugh about it, but both realized the importance of NOT doing certain things.

You must be intentional in determining what NOT to do. It doesn’t just happen. Some of the “To Don’t” goals will actually be legitimate personal goals.

One goal I’ve had was to obtain a certain level of certification in a field I work in, but it is just not obtainable without giving up something else that is more important to me!

Choices must be made. 

In this case, instead of getting level three certified, I will be satisfied at level two. It is still a great accomplishment.

What will giving it up give me?

It will allow me to move forward on some entrepreneurial ideas I’ve had FOREVER. It will allow me to focus on learning something else. It will help my family focus on getting healthy vs. spending that time sitting in another 400 hours of training!

How to “To Don’t”

So, how is this done?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule, but there are a few tips to keep in mind.

Assess new goals weekly 

Recently I had a bright idea! I’d go into work early and do some personal and work “stuff” in a private conference room before going to my desk. I actually got the idea from the book Quitter. This would provide the necessary alone time before I hit the ground running with meeting mania.

It backfired on me.

Starting too early actually had the unintended consequence of me staying later at work! Not cool. I have no idea why, but it resulted in more work and…less exercise! So, after a week or two, I had to drop that goal. Now I use that morning time to exercise and go into work later. I get something very important done (exercise) for myself before dealing with a full day of meetings.

 Add a “To Don’t” or “Dropped Goals” section to your list 

It seems minor, but it is important to track what you have decided not to do.

Why?

Because you forget! Seriously, I was starting to forget what I promised myself not to do!

Think of it like a diet. You decide not to eat sugar and no kidding – most of us will grab and eat something sugary right while we are in the process of thinking about the goal! Human nature, anxiety, whatever it is, we do it.

This week I added a section to the bottom of my monthly goals list and wrote down those decisions that I decided not to follow.

 

Every time I look at my monthly goals I am reminded of what I am not going to do. It re-enforces my conscious decision to not take further action on those items.

Remember – YOU are in charge, the world will keep adding “To Dos”

At my day job, I generate two or three pages of “To Dos” daily. A lot of them are tasks I need to assign to other people, but that still takes time! A lot of time!

The world will continue to fling opportunities, experiences, and activities your way. It is YOUR responsibility to determine what fits into your life. There will be a never ending parade of options, and some may appear very shiny and pretty at first, but actually detracted from your purpose and goals.

Take the time to remind yourself that you are in charge of your actions and don’t need to take on all that comes your way.

Reflect and Re-visit

Life has a way of going by quickly. It is made up of numerous small decisions day-to-day. Years can go by before we realize that we are WAY off track with how we intended to live our lives!

We all keep our goals for life, each year, each month and each day in a format that works for us – paper, electronic, in our head (not recommended).

Take time each week or month to re-visit these. A few questions to ask:

  • Do my daily activities lead me toward the weekly, monthly, yearly and life goals I claim I’m after?
  • What activities detract from those goals? Should they become a “To Don’t?”
  • Do I have a new purpose? If so, what needs to come off the plate to ensure I take the actions necessary to fulfill this newly found purpose?
  • Am I too busy? Why? Are there some good things that need to be replaced by better options?
  • Can some of the goals be moved to a “To Don’t” list for now and be re-visited in a different season of my life?

Scratch it!

It is a constant balance, isn’t it?

So many ideas and not enough hours in the day. As you go about adding to your to do list, be patient with yourself. You are in a constant process of finding out who you are, what is important, and what just isn’t working. It is hard to give up on something that you wanted badly for something that might be a better fit for you!

Now, get out there and scratch something from that list!

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Fire! – What to do if your office goes up in flames

Photo of a burned rooftop

Yesterday started just like any other day. I got the laptop started up, communicated with co-workers, answered emails, drafted a program plan, and …even ate lunch at 11:00 a.m. before the cafeteria rush.

Around noon, the fire alarm rang out.

We’ve had this before. A lot of false starts. The smell in the hallway just seemed to be a smell from a microwaved lunch slightly overdone. No big deal, right?

After the entire building was outside, we looked up! The gabbles on the roof had smoke coming out of them. Yikes! It took a couple of minutes, but the fire department did arrive and got as many trucks and hoses lined up as they could to squelch the flames.

Photo of a burned rooftop
Damaged roof of our building

 

Except, it didn’t die down. In fact, I found out today that they stopped working on it 11 hours after it started and the fire started up again around 10:30 p.m. at night.

So, what next?

We don’t have access to our office space. There was a concrete floor above our heads and so that most likely means no fire, but LOTS of water damage. Most of us grabbed personal items, but left our laptops. Ironic, since most of us carry our laptops everywhere. But, when push comes to shove, we are going to take a few personal meaningful items – phones, keys, wallets, a stray family picture, right?

So, really, what next?

What happens if your space goes up in flames? Do you have a plan? Will it have a massive impact on YOUR business?

Here are some tips to think about right now:

  • Back-up the Computer– Regularly – “regulary” depends upon how much you use it. I am on the computer all day creating, modifying, designing, organizing, etc. I should be backing up almost daily in some way, shape or form. There are a lot of services online that provide secure backup services. However, take a look at the next tip if you don’t want to tackle this today.
  • To the Cloud – You’ve heard about it on the news, in the blogs and at work. It’s actually been here for a while and you use it more than you think. Take Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo – they are in the cloud. You may set up your computer to get them delivered right to your Microsoft Outlook, but they ultimately reside out there somewhere. If I edit an important presentation or document, I often email it “to the cloud.” That way, even if something happens to my computer, I’ve still got access to the document. It’s a big deal with photos! Scan in those old pictures and upload them to Flickr, Picassa and/or Photobucket. That way you’ve got three copies – physical, digital and online. We all know photos aren’t replaceable, like a laptop.
  • Keep the personal valuables small – Do you really need a lot personal stuff around the office?Most of us were able to put all of our personal items in a bag and walk out – within 5 – 10 seconds of the alarm. Would it take you longer? A co-worker brought in all his personal books and manuals he had collected over a period of 20 years to round out his office space. It is probably all damaged now. Would it have been safer at home? Maybe/Maybe not. Take a look at your space now and make that determination.
  • Damage Control & Contingency Planning – If you do own the space, have you thought about what could happen to it in an emergency? Does your building have cement walls and floors? Is there amble protection of your inventory if say a flame bursts through a door or water pours from the ceiling? How will damage impact your ability to meet customer needs? Will it be a minor inconvenience (e.g. system down for a day) or will it incapacitate your business (e.g. cafeteria closed, no other location) completely. Thinking through this before a crisis may avert a real crisis down the road. Some questions to ask:
    • Can those that support me do so at another location? with other computers/materials?
    • How will I prepare now to address customer questions? Facebook/Twitter announcements? Radio spot? Phone calls? Flyers?
    • Am I willing to change my business approach in order to meet both my employee needs and my own (e.g. willing to pay for telework vs. expecting everyone to stop work without pay)?
  • Create cheat sheets – Now is the perfect time to make a few simple lists and put them on a sheet or a credit card sized reference guide. Here’s a few suggestions:
    • Contact Sheet– Yesterday we used a small credit card sized laminated list to make sure everyone was out of the building. The card listed the name/phone/email of each person. These were alternative phone/email info, not our organizational info. Phone tree arrangements should also be listed.
    • Key Inventory Quick List– How many laptops, iPads, scanners, copiers or other equipment will need to be accounted for in case of disaster? Have a quick list available “in the cloud” and in hard copy to quickly access. Include on this list top items that should be picked up quickly on the way out if the need arose.
    • Emergency Sheet (from the business owner) – Wouldn’t it be nice if each person already had the emergency sheet/reference card on them? Whenever and wherever – they’d have info on what to do in case of emergency? Make your own to give out to the people you pay to support your business. It will remove a lot of the questions and worry that arise while in stressful moments. Note: It might be good to include any of the contingency planning details on that as well.
  • Discuss and Listen – Now might be the best time to set up an online space or a series of meetings for the different players in your business to work through “what if?” scenarios and to create a plan. Make sure to include all areas to gain greater insights into the impact an upset could cause. In DC, a derecho storm hit at the end of June 2012. Grocery stores lost power for days. It had a massive impact on the entire supply chain. They couldn’t buy groceries because they couldn’t freeze/refrigerate them which in turn meant that warehouses way out in the Mid-West couldn’t sell their inventories fast enough. A lot of business was lost in the weeks that followed as a result of a couple locations in DC being out of power.

Today I’m lucky. I’ve just lost the laptop and nothing else. I’ve got a paid day off as the powers that be work through the logistical and performance issues that the fire caused. I’m lucky. I’m an employee during the day and an entrepreneur by night. But, what about George? He owns the contract that runs the cafeteria. His workers have no where to go and most likely no benefits or vacation days. Hopefully they have backup plans. If not, some of us will step forward to help…and probably will anyway. It is the right thing to do.

Have more thoughts?

Please share.