The Power of Measurement

20000 StepsThe other week I lost my Fitbit. And for a few days I didn’t work out because I didn’t know how to measure my progress. (Yes, I realize that was a lousy excuse for not working out.)

Of course, fitness goals were achieved and records broken before the arrival of Fitbits and other tracking devices. I, though, had become dependent on mine. While I waited for my replacement to be shipped, I found other things to track, including the number of miles I walked on the treadmill and the number of flights of stairs I climbed in a day.

The same holds true at work. How do you know if you are succeeding? My team has monthly goals, and toward the end of each month, we review our progress against the goals. Sometimes we need to step up our games. Sometimes we need to recalibrate.

A professional group to which I belong is concerned about membership. When I ask how many members we have and how many have renewed, no one knows immediately. I do because I’m tracking it. I suspect I drive the parent organization crazy because during renewal season I ask for our membership list about every two weeks. I want to track and determine where follow-up needs to happen. If members aren’t rejoining, I want to know why. If we’re getting new members, I want to know what has drawn them to the group.

When I decided to visit all states within the U.S., I listed them and tracked my progress. I knew I wanted to see all the states before I turned 50. Without a plan and means of tracking, I was not going to get to see all 50 states. I worked my plan and, in the end, I visited all of them by 50.

Management guru Peter Drucker is often credited with saying “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” If you want to succeed, figure how to define your success and how you will achieve it.

Here’s to your success.

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Gift Yourself Unscheduled Time

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A few years ago, when I was in the middle of a major project and working 12 hour days, a friend said she understood because she had no time, either. She then went on to tell me about her weekly appointments with her personal trainer, ladies night at the local wine shop and a fun afternoon with her grandkids.

I was frustrated because I was not doing any of those things so how dare she complain? And yet, I could tell she was stressed. I asked her some questions, and then we both realized that her frustration was that she was overscheduled and had no time to do what she wanted, when she wanted. She took steps to remedy that.

The lesson stayed with me and the other month, when I realized I was becoming cranky, I realized I need more unscheduled time in my life. I played on a volleyball team one night a week for two hours. I went to the movies with a friend one night a week. I went to the gym once or twice a week. I had book club and board meetings.

Where was the time to read magazines? Or sit by a window and watch the birds at the feeder? Where was the time to simply decide in that moment what I wanted to do?

Despite enjoying all of the activities in my life, it was time to create unscheduled time. I’m taking a season off from volleyball and I’m not going to the movies every week.

Already I feel better. I’ve had more time for walks in the evening. More time to get lost in a book. More time to simply be.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, no matter how fulfilling your life is or how much fun you are having, maybe it’s time to give yourself the gift of unscheduled time.