We’re over halfway through 2017, and as we head into Labor Day weekend, summer is drawing to a close. It’s time to take a pause, evaluate how things have gone so far, and plan for a successful close to the calendar year.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day pace of work and life. And often, when forced to choose between an easy task and one that requires deep, critical thinking, we choose the one that we can cross off our to-do the fastest. This can lead your priorities askew and cause you to stray from your goals.
That’s why it’s important to carve out time in your schedule for the tough stuff—the deep thinking that guides those day-to-day activities in the right direction. Here are some tips for ensuring strategic thinking doesn’t fall by the wayside so you can crush the remainder of 2017.
1. Block calendar time and make sure your team is aware
Taking time out of your work week for strategic reflection and planning can be tough to swing when you’ve got clients, colleagues, and family pulling at your sleeves. But setting boundaries and protecting this time is essential to your long-term success.
Have you ever plowed through your to-do list only to reach the bottom and realize that you don’t actually have a plan for what to focus on next? Chances are, when this happens, you don’t necessarily choose the activity that will be best for your business, you choose the activity that you want to do. By taking the time to create a long-term strategy, you will ensure you have a safety net to prevent this type of impulsive decision making.
2. Get outside the office
Our workspaces are the physical manifestation of our routines. Chances are, your workspace is set up for maximum convenience so you don’t have to make silly decisions each day such as where to sit, what tools to use, or where to get coffee.
This type of convenience is conducive to day-to-day productivity, but not so much for revolutionary thinking.
There’s a reason so many company retreats are held off-site. Shaking up your physical environment shakes up your entire way of thinking. You don’t need to go far to receive the benefits of this concept. Consider getting a day pass at a coworking space, or posting up in a library or cafe. Just aim for a place where you feel inspired.
3. Ask for feedback
As you set your sights on 2018, take an honest look at how others have perceived your work in 2017.
In order to get a variety of perspectives: consider contacting a coworker, a supervisor, a client, or a mentor to see if they’d be willing to answer a few questions. While a quick, in-person or phone conversation is certainly the easiest way to gather feedback, it might not get you the most honest feedback.
4. Try out a goal scoring system like OKRs
OKRs, which stands for Objectives and Key Results is a goal setting system popularized by Google. With OKRs, you set several objectives, or high-level, aggressive goals. You then make note of the key results (3-4 for each objective) that will indicate progress toward your objective. Once the quarter, or whatever time period you’re looking at, is complete, you score yourself on how close you came to achieving your objectives, before setting new OKRs for the next time period.
OKRs are popular among corporations large and small because they emphasize honesty, transparency and aspiration. You don’t need to be a Googler to benefit from OKRs. There’s one more full quarter left in 2017 — you can use the system to set business goals or even personal life goals.
5. Scrutinize your tech stack
In a poll of sales and marketing professionals, HubSpot found that most people use around 12 tools at work. That’s a lot.
Chances are, some of the tools loaded up on your phone or computers aren’t getting used but ARE getting paid for. As you head into the final quarter of 2017, take some time to evaluate which tools are helping and which you can lose.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to invest in a CRM, check out this article.
6.Focus on transforming one key habit
In the bestselling book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg argues that certain habits, which he deems Keystone Habits, can have a domino effect on other habits in our lives. So, for example, if you focus on getting in the habit of working out every morning, you will likely find that other habits just fall into place—maybe you start eating better or you start going to sleep earlier.
By identifying and focusing on keystone habits, we can have a dramatic impact on our lives without needing to upend our entire routine. Do some self reflection and determine which habits are the most impactful and focus there.
7. Take pen to paper
People who take the time to write down their goals, rather than just think about them or talk about them are 42% more likely to accomplish them.
This is where carving out time in your schedule for a goal setting session comes into play. Write down the top five things you accomplished so far this year along with the five things you failed to accomplish. Then, write down your hopes for the rest of the year, and when it comes time to evaluate 2017 in its entirety, you’ll be glad you took the time.