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Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Time Management Tips #21 - Create an Achievements List

Time Management Tips #21 - Create an Achievements List

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You need to take stock.

Stopping to smell the roses, includes reviewing your achievements.   You can review your achievements very simply:

  • Achievements for the day
  • Achievements for the week
  • Achievements for the month

Simply write down a list of your achievements for the day.   Write down your achievements for the week.  Write down your achievements for the month.  If they aren’t worth writing down, then they probably weren’t worth doing.  If you are doing things that aren’t worth doing, that might be a problem – unless you have infinite time, and your boss or your customers reward you for doing things that don’t matter.   Usually, the real problem is you did a bunch of valuable stuff, but you haven’t stepped back to identify it, label it, and put it down on paper in a useful way.

It’s a simple thing to do, but the key is to write them down, and say them out loud.  Say them out loud?  Yes.  When you speak them, you learn to simplify them.   When you simplify them, they start to stick.  When they stick, now you are learning how to tell and sell your value both to you and others.

On paper, I might write the following:

  • Created a set of end-to-end scenarios that show how to use the Office 365 capabilities in ways to improve productivity, and how to make more business impact, in measurable ways.

Yuck.  It’s descriptive, but it’s not sticky, and my manager won’t remember that, and I won’t remember that in the hall, if I wanted to give a quick summary of my impact.

Let’s try again, and let’s say it out loud:

  • End-to-end scenarios for Office 365 that showcase business value in the Enterprise.

It’s simpler.  It’s easy to say.  It’s sticky.  It’s more benefit focused, than on the “how.”  I’ve just given my manager an easy way to talk about the work without getting tongue-tied.  I’ll drill into the details where he wants to, but now he has a mental “hook” and a label for the work, and can easily express it as a win.   When you find a sticky way to say your achievement, write it down the simpler way.  You can always elaborate, but don’t let elaboration get in the way of your short and sweet wins.

If you don’t review your achievements, then a few things happen:

  1. You lose touch of your impact.  The potential impact of your achievements gets lost, while you chase the next thing.   You do more, but feel appreciated less.  
  2. You start to lose the ability to articulate the value you delivered, both to yourself and others.
  3. You fail to appreciate your effort.  Effort is a big deal, and it doesn’t always appear to pay off.  The problem is it always pays off, but only when you reward yourself internally.   You have to reward yourself for making the effort.   You will win some and you will lose some, but for the long haul, your game winning strategy is to reward yourself for the effort.   That’s the part you control.  When you stop acknowledging and appreciating your effort, you start depending on the luck of the Gods and you start hoping the wind will blow your way.   Gradually, you erode your ability to produce outstanding results, because you erode your ability to put in the effort.

Simply having your lists of your achievements and wins is good for you and good for others.  It helps you tell and sell your work, and it helps others tell and sell your work.

Most importantly, having your simple list of achievements helps you acknowledge and appreciate your effort, and that’s your edge.

For work-life balance skills , check out 30 Days of Getting Results, and for a work-life balance system check out Agile Results at Getting Results.com.

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