The Single Best Monthly Investment of Your Time

I climbed Abbey Hill early this morning and had one of those BFO moments – Blinding Flash of the Obvious.
For most of the climb you keep your eyes firmly fixed on the slippy limestone flags in order not to fall and make progress. But every so often you need to look up and focus on the cairn at the summit to see where you’re headed and to measure your current position in relation to where you’re going.

Planning is a lot like climbing. You spend most of your time doing the day to day stuff but periodically you need to focus on the goal, the target, the destination. Imagine if you could improve the quality of the next 750 hours in just 15 minutes!

You can. And now’s the time to do it because tomorrow is October 1st, the start of a new month and also the start of the final quarter.
To begin with, ask yourself, and list, the victories you enjoyed in the last month. This will instantly improve your accountability, your confidence and your positivity.

Secondly, write out in action oriented language – verbs like ‘start’, ‘begin’, ‘hire’, ‘fire’, ‘marry’, ‘divorce’, – what would make it a good month professionally and personally. Avoid having more than five actions per category or else it will become a ‘to-do’ list.

Thirdly, estimate the time required to carry out each action. This may vary from a five minute phone call to a 1000 person hours task that you are managing.

Fourthly, put a start and finish time on each task and time activate it. ie Put it into your diary or phone.

Finally, review it critically at the end of the month.

This simple monthly planning exercise is one of the most valuable business rituals you can develop.

Most business people operate from a daily to-do list and this is great. ‘To-Do’ lists are a useful way of reminding you of what needs doing today. Used exclusively however, they create and nurture the habit of reactive management. You end up reacting to crises of the moment at the expense of more highly leveraged and important activities.

This exercise is also a wonderful exercise to do with your core executive or management team. Doing it on a flip chart is a very visible and tangible way of engaging people and also a great way of reviewing things at month end.

At the end of the day SMÁCHT is the Irish word for discipline. It’s also the mindset that success is a few simple disciplines practiced daily. It’s also a community or tribe of people who practice and apply the disciplines consistently.

This tribe is testament to the fact that the few small daily disciplines can lead to exponential results. I have great pride in congratulating three outstanding SMÁCHT people this week.

Roisin Woods, Senior Manager for eCommerce and Marketing at McElhinneys of Ballybofey, won the world acclaimed Landy Award for Best Overall Search Engine Management (SEM) Initiative in New York on Wednesday night. This puts them centre stage as one of the most innovative digital SMEs globally. Roisin herself is testament to the power of having a clear goal and the discipline of sticking to that goal irrespective of the challenges.

Congratulations also to Pat O’Sullivan and Miguel and all the team at the Pavilion in UL which was crowned Ireland’s best hospitality business. SMÁCHT conducted several sessions in the Pavilion over the years and any of us who eat there would not be one iota surprised at this award. Pat, CEO and founder of Masterchefs, is one of the finest examples of SMÁCHT in action.

Finally heartiest congratulations to Detective Sergeant Clive Derham, Facilities and Energy Manager with An Garda Siochána. The An Garda Siochána has become the first police Force in the world to achieve the coveted ISO 50001 award and yesterday Clive delivered a keynote address in Birmingham to over 500 engineers on how An Garda Siochána went about the process. Such was the interest and response to their story that Clive has now been asked to address a similar group in London next month. I have no doubt if there were SMÁCHT members interested in learning about how AGS achieved such wonderful energy savings in a very short period of time Clive would be happy to oblige. Well done Clive and An Garda Siochána.