Monday, January 9, 2017

Be It Resolved to be More Focused

The beginning of the new year often affords individuals an opportunity to reflect upon the previous year and then make resolutions for the subsequent year.  Friends often share with me that they have made the traditional resolutions pertaining to diet, exercise, financial matters, attending religious observances, and family.  So, what resolutions have you made for this new year? 

I will confess that I too have made resolutions like the ones mentioned above.  Then, about the middle of February, I begin to realize that I am already hopelessly off track.  How can that be?  I was so determined - so committed - so......  Why is it that "life" gets in the way of what is important for us? 

This year I resolve to stay working on my resolutions beyond February until they are completed (or become a habit).  So, why would I even think that I can keep this resolution any better than my other resolutions in previous years that fell by the wayside by the end of February?  Good question! 

In my early years as a young teacher I was really good at making lists, checking them twice, and applying the Franklin Covey time management principles and tools.  I have been utilizing the Franklin Covey prioritization principles and tools for a long time.  They are a habit and a good example of a successful resolution I did accomplish early in my life.  I certainly am very good at "getting things done".  However, I often find myself asking - is this the best use of my time?  In my quest to try to turn the wonderful activities that we do at our community college into effective, productive activities that move us closer to meeting our strategic plan goals, I stumbled upon the book, The Four Disciplines of Execution

In the book I discovered the reason why my personal and professional resolutions fall by the wayside in February - its the "Whirlwind's" fault.  Before you write me off as another person who fails to take accountability; stick with me.  It is my fault that the "whirlwind" gets in my way.  The "Whirlwind" is the daily tasks that keep me from getting the important things done.  The whirlwind calls for my attention because it is in my face ALL THE TIME. My whirlwind includes e-mail, meetings, travel from meeting to meeting, signing paperwork that already has six signatures of approval and on and on and on.  Consequently, I never get to make that call to a legislator or community member about a strategic idea.  I don't review the data on the lead measures that tell me whether or not we will hit my enrollment targets or certain goals will be met in July.  So the whirlwind occupies my day at work so I take the important work home and that gets in the way of my personal and family resolutions.  Sound familiar?

In order to executive my personal and professional resolutions I believe represent the wildly important in my life and profession, I am must be committed to first, remaining FOCUSED, second, ACT on the important by identifying the weekly activities needed to ensure completion and then scheduling those activities, third, keeping a compelling SCOREBOARD - in other words, recording the weekly activities to ensure I am spending the necessary time on what is important to me and last, creating ACCOUNTABILITY.  Accountability comes when I meet with someone to review my scoreboard - in the case of my personal life resolutions, I review them with a close confident, friend, or partner. 

Consequently, this year when I write down my "to do" list each Friday, I begin by listing my resolutions.  Next I ensure time is scheduled each week for me to complete what I must do to ensure I meet those goals.  Then, I protect that time - or should I say, my administrative assistant helps me protect my time.  This also means I say "no" to somethings - or better yet, delegate somethings to ensure I remain focused on the important.  Undoubtable, something urgent will get in the way of what is important to me, but I have also asked that those activities get "rescheduled" just like any other appointment that has to be moved gets rescheduled.  Certainly flexibility, to a point, is necessary for managing the whirlwind and maintaining time for what is important. 

No doubt serving as a president of a community college is a 24 hour - 7 day a week job, but making sure that time is well spent and time is devoted to what is important is also a 24 hour - 7 day a week job.  This year I have a strategy for managing the whirlwind and that is why I believe I can keep my resolution to keep my resolutions. Good luck keeping your resolutions - I'm still on track; are you?