Tag Archives: Review

Downtime? What’s That? 7 Ways To Maximize Downtime

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Asleep at the Wheel
Web Worker Daily had an interesting post on Using Your Down Time Effectively. I don’t remember the last time I had downtime. Here’s the ways I turn my down time into up time.

1. Documentation and Clean up

Write documentation for your previous project. Write down the steps you took to complete it (if they’re complex) in case you need to redo it. Get rid of old versions of documentation and coding. Get rid of or file the old paperwork.

2. Review your Previous Project

See what went right and wrong. Learn from it. Improve your process or knowledge. This is like an accomplishment review for a project.

3. Improve Processes

Take the opportunity to improve processes. Think about what can be done better. What takes too long? What processes are error prone? Improve it.

4. Keep Learning

Is there a skill that will make you more marketable? more productive? Is there a certification that can make you stand out? There’s always something new to learn: learn more about the tools you use. Learn to type faster. Learn about personal finance.

5. Do Your “Somedays”

Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t have the time to do this now, but I want to do this someday”? Your someday has arrived. Start planning your downtime in advance- while you’re working. If you come up with an idea put it on your “someday/maybe” list. (This is “Getting Things Done”(GTD) language for a list of things you may get to in the future). During down time review this list. See which projects will help you most and start working on it.

6. Follow up

Check in on your previous completed projects. Make sure that the results are being used correctly. There may be opportunities for improvement. Your “customer” will be impressed by your dedication quality.

7. Start Building a Machine

When you build a machine you take your downtime to a new level (super-up-time?). When you build a machine you create a long term system. For example if you are a web designer and bid for projects frequently, create a “job making machine”. Building a machine will get you more jobs with less effort. Your machine could include a standard introductory letter, sample web sites by category, a list of testimonials, an up to date web site, follow up letters, sample proposals by target market. You get the idea. Put together everything you need to bid on a project so that it takes you little time to place a bid.

Don’t just start this machine randomly. Launch one step at a time (see layering) e.g. start with one follow up letter at a time. This way if you get interrupted (by a new project) you can take advange of your previous successes that you’ve already accomplished. Then at the next down time you know exactly where you left off.

Using these seven techniques you can eliminate downtime and maximize your efforts.

When was the last time you had downtime? What did you do?

photo credit: Aaron Jacobs

The MiniReview- Keep Your Employees (or Yourself) Motivated and On Target

Each year, usually around December, organizations across the globe mandate an Employee Review. This is where managers review the progress of their subordinates and specify the goals for the upcoming year. This is helpful as it keeps employees on target so they know what the company wants them to accomplish. It motivates the employees because typically bonuses and increases are tied to the review. (If your company doesn’t do this then run and do it now.)

The Problem
There are some problems with the above system- there are too many opportunities for surprises and not enough direction. This means there’s a whole year without talking about growth or guiding your employees.

Action Steps
We’re at about the half way point of the year. Do a review now. If you’re an employee ask for a quick meeting to make sure “I’m on the right path”.

The Final Question
If you’re the manager performing the MiniReview always end with the following “What can I do to help you succeed? What can I do to make your job/environment better?”

If you’re an employee ask “What can I do to improve?”

After the MiniReview go over what you’ve discussed. Make sure each of you knows what follow-up steps you’ll do based on the discussion.

Review It Like You Mean It and You’ll Accomplish More

For many people the weekly review is a chore- it gets in the way of doing real stuff and there’s no time- if they do it at all. Below is a way to make you’re weekly review more rewarding and allow you to accomplish more.

First avoid clutter in your review. Just review your next actions and projects. LifeHack recently had an interesting article 12 Ways to Upgrade Your Weekly Review. They mention many important elements but if you’ve turned your dreams into goals and thus actionable plans most of the reviews suggested aren’t necessary. They are on your to do list/ projects: Health, social, financial etc.

On the other hand it is important to do an optimization and productivity review. They will keep you working optimally. That’s where the Accomplishment Review comes in. It will encompass the optimization and productivity review and will be fun to do. It also gives you something solid to base your ideas off- your completed projects.

The Accomplishment Review is when you look over your completed tasks over the last week. Take pride in all you’ve done and see where you can improve by adding efficiencies. This will give you more enjoyment and motivate you in the future.

Next Action: Incorporate the accomplishment review into your review this week. Report back what you learned.