Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Improve your chances of success

Performance management on a large and small scale is of constant fascination to me. So whenever I come across an article or example of someone else’s struggle, it is invariably of interest.

I came across a treat this morning, courtesy of Twitter. Charlie Brooker has written the most delicious piece in the Guardian about the art of writing, and more specifically, the benefits of having a deadline. It is so worth a read, even if you have no interest in the art of stringing sentences together.

Brooker sees great benefit in deadlines. He doesn’t say whether he actively likes or dislikes them, but he acknowledges their ability to focus the mind and Get Things Done; in particular his 800 word article.

Assuming that all of us have a basic ability to do whatever job it is that we have been putting off, deadlines/goals/objectives are of tremendous help. They narrow down the range of options we have with what to do with our time. When the deadline is still many months, weeks or days away, our options are wide open. We can clear down our email, work on interesting projects, or whatever. As the deadline approaches, we realise time is pressing and we need to get started. The closer the deadline, the harder we work.

I cannot run unless I have a race to aim for. The only thing that gets me out of the house is the prospect of humiliation in not going the distance. Posting blog articles is no different. I have a goal of posting three times a week. I don’t always manage it, but I rarely post less than twice a week.

Of course there are counter arguments to goals and deadlines - the quality versus quantity argument being the most obvious. Yes, I can blog three times a week, but during a busy week would I produce better quality by only writing two posts? Maybe …. it often occurs to me.

But what goals and deadlines do, is to get something delivered. As Woody Allen says, 80% of success is showing up. I’m fond of that quotation, it gives me half a chance.

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