I gave myself one hour to write this article.
In the end, it will not be the best article I ever wrote, but it will be done. I once had a manager who used to tell me “a job well done is a job that is done”. Debatable on many occasions. But, for sure, true in many others.
For the past ten years, I have had about 937284 business ideas. Out of those, maybe 5 came to see the light of day and about 1.5 of them were successful. I love the idea of having ideas, the excitement of yet unfulfilled potential, but the actual work that goes into making things happen… well, that rarely gets done.
Most times, I do not get things done because I am “too busy”. I feel I am busy all the time. To the point that once I was unemployed for five months and I did not have one single day when I could totally relax with an empty to-do list. What I am constantly doing with my time is trying to get somewhere with the 937284 business ideas. Until, every time, I come back to this Tim Ferriss’ quote:
“Being perpetually busy is a kind of laziness”
Basically, I am always busy because I overlook the most important job: selecting the tasks I should be dedicating my time to. I do this because there is always something else I want to chase. I can’t help it: the world is full of so many exciting opportunities, isn’t it?
When the coronavirus hit the world and we were all forced to stay at home for the foreseeable future, a part of me thought: “Great! Here is an opportunity to do all those things I want to do but still haven’t had the time for”.
I was right. Partially. This is, in fact, a one in a lifetime opportunity. But not to do ALL THOSE THINGS. It is a perfect opportunity to do that ONE thing we have all been putting off. Why? Because there is a time constraint that, normally, we wouldn’t have in our lives. A time constraint that helps us frame our goals and give them a deadline.
Although nobody knows how long the quarantine lasts exactly, we suspect that it will be a few weeks, somewhere between a month and a half and three months. At least, those were the time limits I set for myself but to be honest, it is not really that important. Let’s say the quarantine lasts two months, and any extra time will be a bonus.
Of course, I wasn’t able to shift my perpetual busyness to focusing on only one thing. But I made the compromise of selecting three main goals I want to attain during the quarantine.
1. Get a Scrum certification
2. Reach a good level of income through Medium
3. Learn Hungarian (I live in Hungary and have been trying to learn the language for a while)
These are still three areas to focus my attention on (and not one) and sometimes it does feel like I am still too busy, but I feel it’s manageable. Especially because I feel it is working.
And it is working because of two main reasons.
1. “What Gets Measured Gets Managed”
This quote by Peter Drucker is one of the ingredients for reaching success with goal setting.
While my first goal has a very easy way to get measured — I either get the certification or not — the other two don’t. Therefore, I had to create the metrics myself. So, the goals became something like this:
2. Reach a good level of income through Medium — reach $100 in the first month and $300 in the second month (these are not very ambitious goals but I feel these months can lay the foundation for the coming months. Also, it’s important not to be unrealistic with goal setting)
3. Learn Hungarian — I have been working on this for a while, but I want to fast track my learning. And I have an ultimate goal: when I get back to the office, after the quarantine, I want to be able to have daily simple interactions with my Hungarian colleagues in their language.
2. Scrum in daily life
At my full-time job, I am a Business Analyst, working within the Scrum framework. We use two-week Sprints to deliver a Product Increment at the end of each of such periods. Why? This provides continuous opportunities for inspection and adaptation, instead of setting a deadline far in the distance and only assessing progress when we reach it.
So, I decided to apply that to my quarantine goals as well. I took my three goals and broke them into many smaller goals that I distributed throughout the eight weeks that I imagine the quarantine will last. This gives me a daily motivation to work towards those small goals, which are manageable and not too daunting, considering how small they are. Every weekend, I review what I did during the week, and I get a clear picture of where I am on my path to reach what I set myself out to do.
So far, it is working. It’s week 6 for me and these are the statuses of my goals:
1. I feel 85% prepared to take the exam. I plan to do it next week.
2. I reached 1/3 of the revenue I was expecting but I learnt a lot and I will apply those learnings in the next month
3. I can already have some basic one-on-one conversations about not too complex topics. I want to keep improving.
I would continue but I can’t. I have 10 minutes left to finish this article and I need to review what I wrote. I didn’t write anything brilliant, but I wrote something. And that means I moved forward with my goals.
Ok, revision is done. 0h01… Goal achieved!
Read here why I am learning Hungarian…
… and my tips for learning a new language.