Over the past several weeks, we have focused on setting priorities, dealing with disappointment related to priorities and staying focused on priorities. One of the best ways we can stay focused on our priorities is to set realistic action items so that we are making progress on our priorities. I don’t know about you, but I often get really ambitious (especially as we start a new year!) about what can be done in a specific timeframe. I also tend to believe that others are able to do more than is realistic in a specific timeframe. So what do we do? How can we set realistic action items in our coalition work? Join me this week as I provide 3 recommendations on creating realistic action items.
- Review your past action items. How did they go? Were you able to accomplish them? Were your coalition members able to follow-through with their action items? Our past experiences provide important information on what to expect for the future. Also, think about how long it actually took to accomplish these items. You may have planned to complete them in one month but it took you three months. As you plan for future action items, utilize this information to inform what is truly realistic.
- Look at your calendar. Are you available to work on these action items or have you already scheduled several meetings that will take most of your time over the next few weeks? If you and your coalition members are about to be in a busy season of meetings and conferences, your action items need to be narrowed considerably in order to be realistic. Alternatively, if you have a season where there is a little more “open” time where you know you can work on action items, then you may be able to make good progress on them. If that is what you plan to do, be sure to schedule time to work on these action items so your calendar doesn’t get filled with other plans and meetings and you no longer have the time. As I mentioned last week on “staying focused,” one of the strategies that has worked well for me is organizing my week so that most of my meetings occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I can have large blocks of time on the other days to work on my “action items.”
- Break the big items into smaller items. One of the reasons we struggle with action items is that we often make them too “big” and then they become completely unrealistic. Consider reviewing your action items as well as your team’s action items and consider ways to break those into smaller tasks. If you are able to do this, then you can see how just a little bit of time consistently can help you and your coalition members make progress on the action items. When you are able to make progress toward your action items, you and your coalition are energized and you create momentum that helps you accomplish your most important priorities.
So what about you? What has worked for you in setting realistic action items?
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