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It’s that time of year… again! I started a blog post with these same words in January 2017 and here we are at the beginning of another year.

In that blog, I wrote about how our big crazy New Year’s Resolutions sometimes overshadow the smaller changes we can make in our lives. As important as thinking big and planning out your goals is, we sometimes tend to forget about the “small print” of life; the little things that should just be part of our M.O. as decent human beings.

So rather than write about new plans and big ideas this January, I thought I’d take another look at the little things…

Clock-watching

I don’t mean at the end of the meeting/the day/the week, I mean at the start!

We’ve all heard it 100 times, but as they say “if you’re not living it, you’ve not learn it”. So: how is your time keeping?

Do you start your day on time, are you where you need to be when you should be? How often do you “just need 5 more mins” before your meeting? Another important question is, are you on time for clients but late meeting friends or for family engagements and if you are, what does it say about whose time is more valuable?

Personally, I have to work on this one all the time. I have multiple calendars with everything scheduled in them both at work and at home and usually things happen when they should, but internal meetings at the office are my nemesis! Getting caught up in conversations; quick questions that turn into debates; going “off-agenda”– it all eats into my time and everyone else’s. It’s hard to stick to the plan and keep things on track, but on the weeks when I do, everyone gets more done and I am free to have those spontaneous chats with people without causing a chain reaction.

Don’t be all talk

Have you ever said yes to something knowing full well you were never going to get it done? Whether it’s not enough time, a lack of interest or not enough resources, we all sometimes take on more than we can handle.

If you want people to trust you, take you at your word and depend on you then you need to be worth the hype. Even with the best intentions it’s easy to lose track, so make a point of figuring out how to stay on target. If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do. And even more importantly, if you know you won’t get it done: say no in the first place.

Some things that really help me stick to the plan are:

  • Taking notes, writing things down and re-writing them if I need to clear up the to-do list
  • Thinking of every “yes” as a big commitment: take a moment to think before the word comes out of your mouth.
  • Set realistic deadlines.
  • Have “buffer time” in your schedule: just like blocking time for a meeting, blocking time for working is vital.

 

Cross the finishing line

This one can be tough. When you get busy, and especially when you get bored, the next big thing looks so much more interesting than the project you’re 3/4s of your way through. The key here is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be you that dots all the Is and crosses all the Ts, but you must make sure someone does. If you feel your energy for a task wavering, delegate it if you can, or bring in someone with a new perspective who can carry things to completion. Just makes sure it gets done.

Say please and thank you

Manners cost nothing as they say, but a lack of them costs a lot. Remembering to show gratitude goes a long way with your relationship building, as does being congruent with your manners: you can’t be nice and pleasant with clients and a tyrant with your team. If the Ps and Qs only come out when you want something people are going to notice.

Praise has a huge impact on how your team feel at work, so make sure you are showing your appreciation for the work people do for you and with you. Even when you’re paying someone for a job, mutual respect is built on daily interactions, not what you put in their pay cheque.

 

For me, these habits are things I refer to as often as I can. They’re compass points that tell me if I’m heading in the right direction. Regardless of what your goals and strategies are in business or your personal life, the process and the journey always becomes a bigger part of the results than we first think, so once you’ve got your end game in mind, get back into what you’re doing right now.