Don’t make resolutions for 2016. Just remember the mantra “Pilots Simply Love Defying Gravity.” It’s an easy to remember mnemonic for “Prepare. Simplify. Learn. Discipline. Gratitude.” And it also reminds us that nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it.
How does this mantra apply to your life? We’ve included a few examples how we, at Hunter & Bard, are incorporating “Pilots Simply Love Defying Gravity” into our 2016.
On the personal front, start planning your week in advance. Planning your time helps you stay on track and remain productive, and it also reduces the amount of time spent reacting to forgotten events and obligations. David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, observed, “If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.” Dedicate an hour for planning each week on Sunday night or Monday morning, and you’ll feel a difference within a couple of weeks.
On a business front, plan your meetings better. According to research conducted by the software firm Atlassian, most employees are attending 62 meetings a month, which equates to about 31 hours of lost productivity. Even worse, 47% of those polled believe meetings are the #1 time-waster at the office. The most important ways to keep your meetings productive are to set an agenda, provide materials in advance, and direct attendees to arrive prepared to discuss those materials.
Gone are the days of presenting boring Powerpoint slides to a roomful of half-engaged people. Modern-day meetings need to be an efficient think-tank that produces actionable results. Some companies are taking this method to extremes by hosting standing meetings or walk & talks. Choose the method that makes sense for your industry, and ditch those unproductive meetings.
Which systems are out of control in your life? It could be your email inbox. It’s time to get a handle on your overflowing inbox once and for all! Make it a habit to file emails at least once a week, and be selective on which newsletters and updates you receive. It only takes a moment to hit delete, but with hundreds of messages arriving daily, those seconds add up. Make the unsubscribe button your new best friend. Managing emails also includes the ones you are generating. Be sure to consolidate messages into one email and be mindful to who is on the distribution list. It’s important to create a system for following up on outstanding tasks, and you can use tools like Boomerang to remind you about messages that don’t yet have a reply.
Or tackle your expense reporting. Another giant time waster is handling your expense reports for travel and leisure. Whether the charges landed on your corporate card or you need a reimbursement for your personal accounts, the process for itemizing and submitting these charges can be a hassle. Expense reporting sounds easy enough, just keep all of your receipts in a single envelope and turn them in the first day you get back in the office.
But in reality, you’re slammed with emergencies when you get back to the office and it takes a few rounds of friendly reminder email from Accounting before you go digging for the receipts. By then you have no recollection of whom you met with and what was discussed. Even worse, some places don’t give you a proper receipt, or there’s a split of allowable versus personal charges. Use an expense-tracking program, such as Expensify, to take pictures of your receipts and categorize them on the fly Instead of searching through crumpled receipts in your wallet or luggage.
Decide to read for a half-hour a day. It’s proven to make you smarter and will help you expand the way you solve problems. Creativity is all about using your knowledge in new and innovative ways. Who knows if reading that book about ancient warfare will give you some insight into how to create a better user experience for your customers? You won’t know until you try!
Experiment in anything by creating a side project. It actually will help you learn a new platform, language, or discipline. So many massive companies (I’m looking at you Twitter), were started as side projects. Google actually gives their employees the chance to spend 20% of their time on side projects.
As we explained in our blog post about setting goals, discipline is paramount in becoming a success. Identifying goals, devising a plan to achieve them, and sticking to the plan is the secret to success.
Discipline is why New Year’s resolutions usually (almost always) fail. Incorporate checks and balances into your workflow to ensure that you have to stick to the plan, and reward yourself when you achieve major milestones.
Years ago, a project manager stopped by my desk after a particularly hectic deadline and said “Thanks for putting in those extra hours, it made all the difference. Our presentation was a huge success.” That conversation happened in 2008, yet I can still recall it today. His kind words made an impression on me because that type of recognition rarely happens. Many people are juggling the workload of two or three roles, and they barely have time to come up and breathe before moving on to the next deadline.
Make it a priority to pause and thank your team for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. This can include a surprise pizza party or gift cards to grab their favorite coffee at Starbucks. These small gestures make a huge impact in your employees’ happiness, and place you in good standing for the next time you assign a colossal deadline.
The other side of the gratitude coin is paying it forward.
You didn’t achieve your current success all by yourself, it’s likely that there were mentor and coaches that invested time in you and helped you achieve your goals. Share the gift of your time and experience to a student or young professional in your industry. Opportunities to get involved range from a one-time speaking engagement to an ongoing mentoring program, and everything in-between.
You’ll feel good for helping someone along their professional journey, and it’s highly likely that you’ll learn a lot about yourself through answering their questions. Maybe it will reignite your passion for your work by seeing things through fresh eyes, and expanding your network is always a plus. Who knows, the students of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and the next time around it may be you calling them for advice.