Outcomes Lead to Actions

Start with the results you want, then work out what you need to do to get there.

While mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani used statistics-heavy reports to get feedback on how the city was doing. Every department would enter information about their key activities into a customized “accountability system”. The numbers would be rolled up and soon available in reports at city hall.

Personally, I used to hate reporting weekly metrics. I understood the need for it, and I agreed that they were the right metrics to collect, but there was always something about it that rubbed me the wrong way. It felt like micromanaging.

Then one day, I was reading Giuliani’s Leadership, and he pointed out something that changed how I viewed (and felt about) metrics, how I lead, and how I set goals.

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The Secret to a Productive Monday

Five Proven Strategies to Start the Week on the Right Foot

Mondays have a bad rap. Even when we love our work, we tend to dread Mondays, and not just because the weekend is over and you have to put the golf clubs back in the garage.

For most of us, Mondays are filled with a fog. We may experience a burst of productivity as we wrap up last week’s unfinished tasks, but it’s short-lived. We hold meetings to discuss plans for the week which we haven’t planned yet. We stand around the water cooler discussing what we did over the weekend, but we can’t remember what we did on Friday. By the time we have our heads wrapped around what we need to do for the week, it’s mid-afternoon, and we’re starting the week with productivity debt.

The secret to a productive Monday begins on Friday. Don’t end the week until you have a plan for how to start the next one.

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Why You Should Keep a Work Log

Recording what you did is as valuable as planning what you’ll do.

The Daily Record of Events was the hardest part of my Franklin planner to fill out. It was also the most useful to refer back to, if I did.

The prioritized daily task list and appointments were the easy part. They represented the plan. If everything went according to plan, then I would have a perfect record of what I did that day, and who I met with. When was the last time your day went exactly like you planned?

Your task list and calendar are an important part of your digital planning system. They’re your plan for the day. You should also keep a log of what you actually did. This look back at the day will help you get a better picture of what you’re doing with your time and get better at getting things done.

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Two Questions to Let Go of Bad Decisions

Sunken costs will sink you if you don’t let them go.

Would you scrap a project halfway through and start over? All the late nights, research, and tough decisions, undone. Go back to square one, now with half the time to do it in.

That’s exactly what I did with my senior design project in college. I wasn’t enjoying the project I had picked. My heart wasn’t in it. I dreaded working on it.

Over the holidays, I took the time to step back and reflect. Despite the time and effort I had already put in, I felt like I needed to do a different project—one that would play to my strengths and, honestly, one that I would care about. I got the necessary permission from my advisor, the department head, and the dean, and restarted a nine-month project with four months to go.

I had a blast working on the new project. I was engaged. I was excited. I was more than a little anxious about finishing in time (this was a graduation requirement) but I did complete the project on time and received very high marks for it. Restarting was the best thing I could have done, yet we’re often reluctant to go back and change a decision.

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