I stopped making new year resolutions several years ago after realizing most were null and void by the second week in January.
Instead of lofty, unrealistic goals, I committed to shorter lists of things I might actually be able to achieve. As they came to mind, I jot them down on Post-It notes and 3×5 cards and tuck them into my pocket. When I get home, I pile them on my dresser where they await days when I have time to tackle some of them.
So I enjoyed reading this week’s Wall Street Journal column by Sue Shellenbarger. She confirms the value of “to do” lists and offers tips to turn them into real accomplishments–including for your career.
Sue quotes New York author and time management expert Julie Morgenstern who says a well-maintained list is “an essential tool for staying grounded, for saving your energy and for doing things rather than trying to remember what to do.” (My lists are anything but well maintained–hence my first “to do” for 2012…and there’s now an app for that).
Morgenstern says the best to-do lists are limited to specific tasks that can be tackled right away and finished in the near future. Be specific. Instead of listing “solve client issue,” write, “spend one hour defining the scope of client problem.” She also says you need to put a time estimate for each task or you’ll risk having too many tasks and not enough time in the day to accomplish them.
Job seekers or those who resolve to change jobs or get promotions in 2012 might start their “To Do” lists with re-assessing their resumes, expanding personal networks, attending at least one professional event a month, volunteering, etc. Be as specific as possible. Make your 2012 “To Do” list the one resolution you adhere to in the new year.