How to Achieve Personal and Professional Success

What’s your ideal day? Would you know a great day when you saw one?

Your Best Just Got BetterIn his book, Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More, Jason W. Womack (@jasonwomack) challenges his readers to understand what makes them happy, and then align daily activities with this ideal.

It’s common for business professionals—especially those in the face-paced world of agency marketing—to feel a constant busyness. We’ve all said it: “There’s not enough hours in the day!” Instead of lamenting this, Womack recommends that you take control.

Doing so, involves a three-part approach: knowing yourself, setting goals and using time wisely. Below are lessons learned from his book on how to focus time on the most important aspects of your business and life, and in turn achieve personal success.

Know Yourself

Success requires that you know yourself and the circumstances that make you the most productive. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What makes me happy? How would I like to spend my time?
  • How do I currently measure my own success?
  • What are my strengths; in which areas can I improve?
  • How can I create more value?
  • What times of the day and physical locations afford me the most energy?
  • How sustainable is my current pace of work? Could I maintain it for years or decades without getting burnout?
  • How do I spend my time currently? (Hint: Take an inventory of a few days by writing down everything in which you spend time.)
  • What activities do I need to keep doing; what could be deleted or delegated?
  • Do I have the support structure I need to succeed and reach goals?

With these answers in tow, you can more readily set clear goals for improvement.  

Set Clear Goals

Goal setting forces you to focus on the things that really matter to you in life and work. These goals could fall into a variety of buckets such as family, health, career, travel, volunteerism, friendship and more.

Take a step back and ask yourself: Where am I today, and where do I want to be in three or six months? Document these goals, develop a strategy to achieve them, and then, visualize successful completion. 

In Womack’s words: “The characteristic that separates the good from the great, the highly successful from the folks who are just getting along is their ability to think about themselves as successful. They are efficacious; they have and trust in their ability to produce results.”

Know what you’re committed to for the long haul, and then on a daily basis, identify three to four tasks that will help you move the needle in that direction.

Use Time Wisely

As Womack points out, there are only 168 hours in a week, and 96 15-minute blocks of time in a single day. You can’t do everything, which is why successful people have gotten really good at time and priority management.

Use time smarter, and you’ll find you can achieve much more. Some of my favorite tips from the book include:

  • Commit to learning one or two new features or shortcuts for each of the tools you use on a daily basis, and more efficiently navigate your work.
  • Be strategic about what you say “yes” and “no” to. Does the project help you reach your personal and professional goals? Can you realistically deliver it in the near future? Learn to prioritize, and decline, requests based on your answers.
  • Schedule meetings with yourself to block down for productivity, and minimize interruptions.
  • Limit interruptions of others. Document questions and requests for others, and approach them in bulk, versus in one-off conversations.
  • Don’t arrive late to meeting—or too early. Womack recommends showing up three minutes before the scheduled start time to avoid being rushed, but also to not waste time.
  • Start meetings at quarter after, instead of on the hour. Most meetings can be completed in 45 minutes instead of a full hour, and people tend to arrive a few minutes late anyway.
  • Work in 15-minute sprints. Set a timer and commit to focusing on the task at hand for the duration. You’d be surprised at what you can achieve when you give something your complete attention.
  • Use unexpected down time wisely. People will cancel, meetings will start late, etc.; plan for this. Maintain a list of 20-30 items you could complete in 15 minutes or less, and tap into that when you find extra time throughout the day.
  • Invest 30 minutes a week in getting organized, and eliminate unnecessary time spent looking for files, emails and the like. You’ll save two-to-threefold that amount of time in the next week.
  • Learn from others. Watch how your colleagues work and experiment with different approaches. Maintain the practices that work well for you.
  • Seek assistance and support. The most successful people surround themselves with other people who inspire them and encourage them to meet their goals.
  • Set boundaries for yourself. Know when you want to arrive at work and leave; stick to that schedule. This shows others that you value your time and forces you to focus-to-completion when in office.
  • Create a “stop doing” list. Identify those activities you could stop doing without negative results. You’ll cut out trivial activities and concentrate on more important initiatives.

How do you manage priorities, goals and time to make your best better? Share your ideas, wins and struggles in the comments.

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