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There Will Never Be a “Good” Time to Prioritize Your Development


So…who had plans for 2020? How’s that working out?


When I look at the 2020 Tentative Goals that I had in my Notes app, well, I still feel strongly about accomplishing what I had written down. But, my daily life and the world, in general, look a lot different now than it did in 2019.

While that is the case, I have run out of excuses for my continued inaction. Likely, this is how the world is going to look for the foreseeable future whether I like it or not. And, just because I’ve stalled out, it doesn’t mean that the world doesn’t keep on turning. While my apprehensions are still present, I do find myself at the point of turning a new leaf or at least opening the book up.


My mind loves symmetry so, with it being the start of the second half of the year, I felt a nice mental kick to tackle something new and interesting. Which brings me here. If you’re like me, you might have been working from home for some months now. And, if you’re like me you’ve probably mostly just been reacting to all the new and interesting forms your work has been taking.


BUT NO MORE! Being away from work, it’s easy to take our development for granted. However, now more than ever is the time to make sure that we aren’t just surviving but thriving at work. Here are the two areas that I plan on doubling down on Prioritization and Career Growth.


Prioritization

Schedule Your Work

Working from when you roll out of bed until when it’s dark outside isn’t a winning strategy. Especially for those of us working from home, it becomes easy to “always be on”. Emails, instant messages, texts, calls - they call come directly to our phones. This means that even when we’re on the toilet we can still be working (you know yourselves). But, working in a nebulous, indistinct way doesn’t cultivate an atmosphere of focus. When work has a start time and a stop time, we can start to prioritize the time we have for work. Equally important, we can also focus on the time needed for family, play, relaxation, Netflix. You know, the reasons why we work int he first place.


Prioritize

By this point, you should be used to me being the Prioritization Pastor. And, yes, I kind of am. But that being said it’s true. Early in quarantine, I was in full-on reaction mode. Everything felt critical. Everything felt urgent. Within that framework, it’s difficult to focus and think clearly about what will deliver the most outstanding results. As time goes on, however, we acclimate to the new normal and some tasks naturally fall and others rise. The trouble then comes when we don’t rise to meet this divergence in work. So, here is what we do, capture all outstanding tasks in one location, identify the most impactful work to be done, then do it. Work on one item at a time.

Email Management

Even though I didn’t want to believe it, emails have gotten worse during the quarantine. Without the ability to do a desk drive-by, emails have further infiltrated how communication happens in the workplace. The pile-up of emails not only add to your to-do list but also creates a constant ping, distracting from what you have to do at hand. Also, the expectations around timing have gone out the window and replaced by end of day, as soon as possible and right now. So, here is what we do, schedule when you work on your emails. Don’t work from your inbox. Put all the follow-ups from your email onto a list and prioritize working on the most important items first.

Career

Don’t abandon your career because you might be stuck at home, or worse yet because you’re uncertain about the future of your role or company. Change is happening all the time and with change comes new problems to be solved. We can either grow to overcome these changes deliberately or as a reaction. The awesome thing about taking charge of your development is that you can grow in the way you decide to. When you’re reactionary, you end up focusing on areas that are convenient and comfortable instead of areas that could deliver the most development. So, here is what we do, have regular alignment, and regular interaction with managers, ensure that your expectations are captured in smart goals, create a career development plan and ensure that you receive constructive feedback outside of performance reviews.

It’s easy to feel like we have no control in our personal lives and career right now. That we are only able to react to what’s happening in the world and not proactively reach for the goals that we want to accomplish. There are small, deliberate actions that we can choose to take every day to move towards the outcomes we want to accomplish. It may be simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It requires focus, effort, and commitment to take action day after day. But, you have what it takes to accomplish what mores impactful goals.

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