Goals & Resolutions for 2012

I have been thinking about what New Year’s Resolutions I should grab onto for this year, with an eye toward how easy it is to have so many I readily forget, propose unreachable ones that defeat me before I begin, or even such ideal ones that . . . well let me leave the ideal ones for the Übermensch or somebody else with the time and wherewithal to focus on the unfocusable.

With this said, taking stock of what is realistic and needed, without seeming like work (hey, who gets excited with focusing on work?), I want to try to do something new for 2012. I do not want to focus on giving anything up–that only stays exciting for a day and motivating for about two. I also don’t want to focus on cutting out or stopping anything, as that also feels like I am doing without (and once again, I will not realistically be able to maintain it).

This year I am hoping to take an appreciative inquiry-inspired approach to my 2012 goals. I am planning goals that will advocate doing something positive, rather than not doing something negative. I will reenforce the behavior and direction I want to promote, and leave the bad habits and such alone, as the focus on the good will help to reduce those more unpleasant ones. While I will avoid SMART goals, as that will add a certain amount of pressure that I don’t need (once again, too much like choosing to do work), I am hoping these will still meet those same criteria.

Thus, my 2012 goals and my New Year’s Resolutions are:

1. I Will Finish My Doctoral Thesis (Dissertation)

I have spent nearly all my life in college and university, and have a handful of degrees and such to demonstrate the wide breadth of knowledge and skills and experiences I have had along the way, but now ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I need to finish all of this formal stuff so I can in turn engage in all the nifty research and living that I have been putting on hold. I will finish my PhD (meaning defend it in the viva and fix anything that needs fixing) by the end of 2012.

2. I Will Engage in Fiscal Responsibility

I have never been good with money, and as I am self-funding my PhD now may not be the best time to start this, but I have to learn (or remember) some self-restraint. This does not mean I will get out of debt or stop spending anything (recall the appreciative inquiry above), but I certainly can have some restraint, something I will positively mention as engaging in doing something good, rather than focusing on stopping something not so good. I will focus on being responsible (something good) that still allows me to move about my day given my commitments and situation (cf. thesis work above).

3. I Will be Timely with Communication

Seems simple enough, though I tend to read emails or see Tweets or blog posts or the like, note to myself that I need to reply or post, and then move on. These electronic reminders then sit in my Inbox or in open tabs, while I busy myself with other tasks as I consider my replies and process or debrief what I want to reply to, or not. This means I at times take longer than I prefer to answer or file or delete (cf. Inbox Zero). So, rather than list exactly how long things will remain unanswered or unresponded to (too unbending for my personal life that will make this all feel like work), I will again focus on the positive by following the path of timeliness. Even as I am writing this I am down to only 6 items in my Inbox, so great strides are afoot!.

I have been working on this post for the past few days, and think it is now time to air in public. I know I wish to be around people who focus on these three seemingly unrelated items, and hope this will in turn help me to improve toward that unnamed person!

Tech Clean-Up Week, Here I Come!

Tech Clean-UpPost-Flu, I now face enough work to nearly make me unwell again! I am behind on email, blog posts, comments, responses, feedback, and rss feeds (again). So, time for another Clean-Up! This time, a bit more ambitious . . .

Here is my goal–by the end of this week (meaning by Friday at 5:00 pm!), I will achieve Inbox Zero in all my email accounts, reply to all posts, comments, and the like.

This will be a busy week, but starting with a tangible (and specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goal that will completely energize me by the end is a great way to begin a Monday.

First focus? My NYU email account.

Have to go, some responses that need my attention . . .

Inbox Zero Struggles

Yesterday I spoke about the success I had with Inbox Zero at work. That should make starting the day today much easier.

However, I was not as successful cleaning through my inbox at home as I hoped. This is what happened – I have become successful at removing junk and clutter from my home inbox, so none of that was present. Instead, the 30 or so emails I have there all require either Defer or Do (to relate to the 5 options for handling email).

This is the bottleneck; they all require work.

The items that have been deferred are the ones I am handling first. I am taking the main point and scheduling time to handle each of them. Alternatively, I am starting to do them as well. This is the gap – each of them requires a chunk of time to accomplish what is in the email or what it is reminding me to do.

My strategy? I see it as two-fold:

  1. Handle all new email as they arrive, selecting to Delete, Delegate, Respond, Defer, or Do it so they do not increase my work later on. Begin to keep up from now on.
  2. Handle 2-3 emails already in my inbox each day until I am caught up.

This seems realistic for me, and I have found that having the greatest plans in the world will amount to nothing if I cannot implement them.  I will report back . . .

Inbox Zero ~ Success!

Inbox ZeroI have heard some colleagues speak about Inbox Zero, and this is exactly what I accomplished before I left the office on Friday.

What is it? Inbox Zero is a strategy to end the day with nothing in my inbox. Not a single email. Nothing read (those should be either deleted or filed) and nothing unread. Empty. Clean. Ready for Monday. A new start. No longer overwhelmed. Not lost in data. Caught up. Free.

Got the picture?

When Monday morning at the office comes, I will start up Outlook and know that anything that arrives from Friday night to Monday morning will be new and need attending. As this was a major accomplishment for me, I will struggle to remain caught up.

There is a great slideshow that demonstrates this, and I liked the five immediate options for handling email (delete, delegate, respond, defer, do) that , all of which get it out of the Inbox. Hopefully having those references here will better help others process the sheer quantity of stuff we get bombarded with every day.

One thing I learned along the way is that while some email has information in it I need for upcoming tasks, I still file those in folders using keywords and then put tasks on my calendar to complete the items later. I don’t forget them, and have things organized for future reference. I then know where to find the filed information without having it taking up space and needing to be constantly re-read in the Inbox.

Next step is to bring this to my home Inbox, which is pretty clean already, but another hour or so, and it should also be Inbox Zero.