Stuck on Getting Started?

To continue our discussion of Rick Maurer's cycle of change (see Figure 1 to my August 15, 2011 blog entry), I have a question for you. Do you ever find yourself stuck on getting started?

I often find this to be a common problem with change. Do you ever find yourself perpetually starting a diet (but never quite actually on it yet)? Is there a major clean out (of email, files, or long overdue to do's) that you always need to tackle but never seem to find the time? Is there a critical project that keeps getting pushed back?

If you answered yes to any of these, welcome to being stuck on getting started. Many change efforts get caught in these ruts. They are difficult to deal with. Let me give you five techniques to see if we can get you going.

1. Schedule time to for the important tasks.

We often say something is important but then ignore its completion. Why? Because important tasks are rarely urgent useless a deadline is approaching. In the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey explains effective time management using a two-by-two matrix which splits time into four quadrants. This analysis looks at time spent on a vertical axis of Important vs. Not Important and a horizontal axis of Urgent and Not Urgent (See Figure 1).

Stephen Covey's Four Quadrants

You must schedule time to work on these important tasks or you never get to them. If you need ways to find the time, see my posts on Dumb Stuff We Should Stop Doing.

2. Write down your goals, action plans and due days.

Force yourself to clarify exactly what needs to be done. Identify your milestones and how you will know that they have been achieved. This will force you to articulate exactly what needs to be done and by when. Outsiders can review your plan to see how they can help.

3. Use the salami approach whenever necessary.

If your project is too large or difficult, slice it into manageable pieces. Break it down into pieces that fit what you can block on your calendar. Do the same for other project team members.

4. Clarify what approvals are necessary and incorporate those into the plans.

An approval checklist includes both formal and informal approvals that you seek. The formal ones are required. The informal ones make the formal ones a whole lot easier to obtain. They also speed the way to faster adoption.

5. Get an accountability partner to work with you.

This may need to be your first step. This should be someone who shares your interest in getting this project started and completed. Every book that I have written has always had at least one co-author. That person made me more accountable to completion deadlines. I never wanted to let a co-author down. For me, it is like working a cross cut saw. You go faster because of the push pull motion.

For this blog, you as my readers are my accountability partner. Let me know if this series on change issues is helpful. Is this topic something you want to discuss? Or do you have other issues? I look forward to hearing from you.

Next week I will be:

- Leading the pre-conference workshop at the CFO magazine Corporate Performance Management conference on Sunday, Sept. 11th from 2 to 5:30 pm. The full event runs Sept. 11-13.

- Speaking at the Lean Accounting Summit on Friday, Sept. 16th from 9:30 – 10:45 am. The full event runs from Set. 14-16.

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