What are you trying to achieve?

  • Write down your aims and objectives (a mission statement)
  • Make a list of all the tasks that you do: how does each one contribute to achieving your aims?
  • If you’re doing something that isn’t contributing to your aims, stop doing it
  • Have a reason for everything that you do: ‘I think this might be useful in the future’ is a perfectly good reason to be doing something

Continual improvement


  • Change is not defeat
  • Change does not mean that you have failed
  • Change does not mean that what you are doing now is wrong
  • Change does not mean abandoning how you do things now in favour of something completely different
  • Change is an acceptance and an acknowledgement that there is always room for improvement


  • Accept that how you do things now is not perfect, and never will be, but is worthwhile
  • Accept suggestions from other people
  • Share best practice
  • You cannot accept every offer of work that you get, so other people will also be doing your job
  • You’re not trying to be the only person who does your job. You’re trying to be the best you can be at doing your job. Other people might be bigger and / or better than you at what you do: So what? Do the best you can and try to get better. That’s all you can do and all anyone expects you to do

‘One more thing’

  • Take small steps, one at a time
  • Try to think of one more thing that you could do for yourself, your colleagues, your clients, customers or suppliers that would make your, or their, life (or job) a little bit easier

Being proactive vs being reactive (servicing vs repair)

  • Try to work out what you want to do and stick to it
  • If you find yourself in situations where you are mostly reacting to events, or to other people’s requests, try to turn the situation around so that you can anticipate events and requests
  • If your job is to constantly fix problems, particularly ones that people don’t think should have occurred, it can become demoralising very quickly
  • Try to create situations where you are servicing and maintaining things rather than repairing them, where you are following things up before you are prompted to by clients, customers, and colleagues

Professional standards

  • Decide what you consider to be acceptable professional standards, basically: how you would like to be treated by other people, and act according to those standards, regardless of how other people are treating you
  • If other people are not behaving professionally try to use it as an encouragement to behave ultra-professionally towards them – it’s in your interest because you’ll need to do part of their job for them if you are to get all the information you need to behave professionally yourself

Learn to slow down

  • Trying to do things quickly almost always backfires because I almost always need to do something again. Either I won’t remember what I did or why I did it, or I won’t have enough notes to be able to follow up what I’ve done
  • Be kind to your future self: take your time and make decent notes so you’ll know what you’ve done

Concentrate on one thing at a time

  • It’s tempting to try and do more than one things at once, particularly to fit planning and administration in around other jobs, but it doesn’t work
  • Take time to do everything professionally and allow a realistic amount of time for each job
  • You’ll save time in the long run because you’ll be confident in the quality of your work


  • I recommend selecting one main method of communication, it could be face-to-face meetings or telephone calls, emails or faxes, telexes (one for the older readers), Facebook messages, Twitter, etc.
  • It doesn’t mean abandoning other forms or communication, it just means that people know the best way to contact you and the best place to look out for messages from you

Targets and Deadlines

A target is an aim – a date that you agree with a client or with yourself. Some tasks will have a target

A deadline is a date set by a client or by your lack of access to time travel. Most tasks will not have a deadline.

Managing expectations

  • Your expectations of yourself
  • Your expectations of your colleagues, clients, customers and suppliers
  • Their expectations of you

‘Moving the goalposts’

  • Don’t move the goalposts when things go well or go badly
  • The aim is to have a balanced life and a stable business
  • Don’t get over-excited when things go well
  • Don’t get too upset when it’s going badly
  • Celebrate success because it’s exceptional – don’t let it become the new normal
  • The danger is that next week I’ll say to myself ‘it was going well last week, what am I doing wrong this week?’


If you don’t have time to do something before the target date then say so and say so as early as possible. If you’re asked to do something quickly and you either don’t have time or you think that more planning is required, say so.

In my experience, people appreciate honesty and understand the reasons. If they don’t, it might be an early indicator that it is not healthy to work with them in the long run.

SMART goals

They really work!

Next: Planning

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