I have been using iDoneThis for just over 3 weeks now.
It is really simple to use. You set up the project(s) and then are prompted regularly to fill in the progress you have made. You type in some text and can include tags. Progress items can be reviewed with a simple calendar or on a list.
As I said when I mentioned I was going to use this tool in my last blog post, I am using it for projects that I am doing on my own. And I have come to the conclusion that I am not getting the best from it because I am not using it in a team environment.
It is a good discipline to write down the progress I have made and sometimes the daily mails remind me to focus on the next steps. But I tend to track my work anyway in a daily time planning spreadsheet, so I am not gaining much. The othe feature that could be useful is the ability to review individual small steps to see how long they took and when I was able to achieve them. So far, I have not found the need to do this.
If I was in a team, I am sure it would be motivational to share progress and to see the progress others were making. So I will definitely put this utility on the list for future shared projects. But for the time being I am going to stop using it.
One other good outcome from the test of using iDoneThis is that it has reminded me that I need more external feedback even on my own projects. This is for two reasons: firstly, to make sure that I am working on developing services that will meet user needs in the future; secondly because of the stimulus that external feedback provides – hopefully good feedback but you can even use criticism as a motivator.
So a new habit for me to develop is to spend more time making and renewing contacts.
I often work on my own. When working for a client, it is very often from home and involves creating content or marketing material which requires research and self-organised activity with weekly reviews. Then there are my own projects that I am trying to develop in the long-term; although they need input from other people and I also aim to ask for feedback and advice from mentors and associates that I trust, this does not happen every day.
Some days it is easy to make progress, others it is difficult to get started. Always there is the danger of distractions. There are no team members with whom to share each day the progress and the frustrations; there is rarely anyone whose work reminds me to get on with my own. So I am constantly on the lookout for new ways of working or tools that will help me to be more focused and get things done.
Today I signed up for a trial of iDoneThis. Very simply this will send me an email at the end of each weekday asking me to state what I have achieved during the day; I am currently reviewing five possibiliities for new projects and so the email will focus on the progress made in evaluating them and choosing which one(s) to take forward.
Writing things down has been shown to help you focus on what needs to be done. Will writing down my daily achievements encourage me when I have made good progress and spur me on when things have not gone well?
The 14 day trial will help me find out.
What tools or tips do you use to motivate and focus when you work on your own. Do comment below
I made a mistake this morning – or perhaps I was just lazy. The Sussex branch of the IoD (Institute of Directors) were holding a breakfast meeting on the subject of “Company Pensions – a millstone round your neck or a milestone to a better future”, which I attended. My consulting company may be micro in size but like all other companies it will be covered by the automatic enrolment legislation. So I thought I had better find out more before my staging date of 1st April 2017.
The presenter was Alan Salamon, a pension and investment expert, and I went along to hear him speak. What I forgot to do was think about how to get the best out of the networking opportunities before, after and even during the meeting. The value mostly comes from what you learn from others and can share with them, rather than any direct pitch. For me, it takes an effort to socialise easily with those I do not know, so I should have prepared myself mentally to make the most out of each conversation, finding out about other people, their roles and operations, their current business challenges and views.
It was a reminder to me that you always need to work out how to be an active participant at all meetings, to think about what you can put in as well as what you can get back, to try to build conversations and communications that might grow in the future. Next time I should put aside a short period of time to prepare to put more in and get more out.
I have just read an article
by Sarah Pavey of MindTools about the need to set rules for communications within companies & groups to make interactions efficient. It makes lots of good points about this very important subject.
But one point I disagree with. For me short thank you emails are very worthwhile for a number of reasons
- they acknowledge that the recipient has seen the mail. As the article points out, depending on the recipient you may not be sure that they will read your mails swiftly, and the thank you puts your mind at rest
- They show appreciation and we all need appreciation. Even a thank you for something small can boost our feelings of positivity
- They build the relationship and team feeling. This may be in a trivial way, but strong effects are constructed from many small actions
- Saying thanks reminds you of how you rely on others.
- It takes only a few seconds and saying thanks has a positive effect on you as well as on the receiver.
Although I am often swamped by email, I would gladly add another ten small thank you emails a day – and I will try to send them as well.