Disclaimer: It’s possible that this is lifted directly from a book I’ve read recently or something I’ve listened to. If so, please point it out! If not – it’s certainly a variation on a theme, but I hope it’s helpful.
I started work this morning by sitting with a notebook for five minutes, writing (and then answering) the question:
“What will make this a good day?”
My list started with something about how (or who) I wanted to be:
- Show care;
- Notice how people are doing, and Good Things;
- Be patient and encouraging.
Then I had some things I wanted to achieve – totally unscientific, only vaguely specified and measurable goals:
- Have a good phone call with X and Y about a plan for a new teacher training project;
- Reply to emails in general and three in particular;
- Update a visa agent about current process;
- Be available to support two colleagues working on something urgent and stressful;
- Review a cost-and-price list with another colleague;
- Talk to X about next steps with a video about our work.
Simple goals that break most of the rules of good goal setting, although still in line with big priorities.
I ended the day with all but one of them highlighted green, and had covered a few other things in the meantime (things I left space for by keeping the list fairly light).
On the back of one conversation a colleague took the initiative to prototype a new product that I was skeptical about, but looks like it will turn out well.
Another discussion moved something along to the point where someone else could make faster-than-expected progress with a new proposal.
There were pockets of intensity and a bit of stress here and there, but there was space to think a bit, make progress on a couple of strategic resources, and to help people get good work done. And a couple of good surprises.
And at the end of the day – an irksome, bureaucratic end – no matter how I felt at that moment, I could look at the list and say to myself – objectively:
“This has been a good day. You can go home now.”