I am naturally a productive person. I prioritize ruthlessly and execute on that prioritization. That said, I have failed recently to have an overarching purpose to my productivity. Yes, I know I need to get a certain number of things completed. I also know I can sometimes fail to look back and make sure that the purpose of my productivity is for the broader mission of the company. For example, in a recent company survey to my team to provide me feedback on how I can improve, one of the teammates stated, “You are very ambitious, but you are not driven. Great leaders are both ambitious and driven”. He was right. I am very ambitious, but my ambitiousness did not clearly drive to a purpose. I needed to change.
The goal of this article is to show you what I have been working on to have clear productivity with purpose through setting clear, specific goals, planning properly and prioritization with your mission and vision.
1) Set clear, specific goals:
One of my earlier struggles for myself was to set clear goals that would be easily measurable. We would have goals to build a certain product, but I would soon realize that there wasn’t the demand I expected for the product. What I learned is that participation alone was insufficient and that setting clear goals based on purpose, passion, and values was intrinsic to our success.
Instead, we now focus on small goals to understand whether there is a demand for the product. We clearly outline what we expect we will achieve by building the product, test the hypothesis and the demand for the specific product, and the build the product once we have enough data to show that the product will be successful. It’s been much more productive to set clear, specific goals. It also became more achievable.
To take it a step further, we set bi-annual goals that would help us achieve greater productivity. We made the goals easy to remember by choosing 4 “S”s for 2020.
Finally, I like what Jeff Boss added in his Forbes article on goal setting, “Having a clear, compelling goal mobilizes your focus toward actionable behavior. In other words, goal setting should motivate you.”
2) Plan Properly
What I’ve learned is that small projects may not need much planning. The amount of logic needed for a small project may be only 5 sentences with very little variability. Large projects needed to be planned purposefully to help them succeed.
When we started to build Savvy debt payoff planner, I realized that we would need much more purposeful planning to have the application work well for individuals. It’s a complex thing to create something that will help people get out of debt and save more money than current applications, so extensive planning has been involved.
3) Prioritize with Your Mission and Vision:
Our Ascend Finance mission and vision started as “helping take the pain out of personal finance” through providing simple solutions. It wasn’t a terrible mission and vision by any stretch. That said, one of our lead engineers read Made To Stick, and I realized that it was difficult to filter all of what we build through that vision.
As such, we updated our vision to help make debt freedom easier, cheaper and faster. Now that we have a clear purpose, we are able to check all of our ideas again that purpose to make sure that each thing we do is making the user achieve debt freedom, cheaper, easier and faster.
By having a clear purpose, we are also able to be more productive because we would deprioritize things that would not help us achieve that purpose.
Ben Tejes is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ascend Finance, a platform to help people achieve self improvement in the area of personal finance. He is a writer for the Ascend and Saved By Cents Blog where he writes on topics such as Chapter 7 Means Test, and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Florida to help people get out of debt and experience financial freedom.
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