I’ve been working as a consultant for a few years now, and while I think I’ve enjoyed a fair bit of success, one thing that is missing for me is the ownership of the projects I’m working on. In the last two years I’ve worked on five or six different web sites and web applications: one was put on indefinite hiatus and I’m unsure of its current state, one was completed by another developer, and at least three were canceled just short of completion because of lack of funds. It’s the canceled projects that are the most discouraging because excellent progress was made and hard work was put into them, but now they are in limbo and out of my hands!
This marks the end of the first day of the second week in the life of the Hoffsoft Consulting Services Corporation. Last week I incorporated and I also sent off my business license request. It’s been exciting, but time consuming.
I’ve been reading a book called Success God’s Way by Dr. Charles Stanley, one of my favourite podcast friendly preachers. The chapter I read yesterday was about the successful use of time, and I was really impressed. Probably one of the biggest problems I struggle with lately has been time management and the effective use of time. I have often felt very overwhelmed by the problems involving working, maintaining my house, managing my father’s estate, building a relationship with my wife, and maintaining relationships with friends – and also trying to fit in time to read books at the same time.
It hasn’t been really easy for me, and probably one of the biggest problems for me is that I didn’t set clear goals for my use of my time. While this book is obviously a book by a Christian author for a person setting God based goals, there is a chapter on time management that wasn’t entirely Bible based, and related some interesting stories from successful business men that Dr Stanley follows himself; at the end of every day he writes down a list of items he would like to accomplish the next day in order of priority and importance, then the next day he follows this list in accomplishing tasks and getting things done.
Probably the most brilliant part of this plan is actually planning the time on the night before. This might seem funny, but to me it makes the most sense! Even when I was working in an office I would spend a lot of time spinning my wheels doing things like getting coffee, checking emails and reading blogs first thing in the morning because I wouldn’t have a set goal for that day in front of me yet. Usually by about 10:30 (or my third cup of coffee) I would snap out of it and start planning my day and getting to work. That is a lot of wasted time in the morning! I’m not sure how bad it has been in the last two weeks, but after reading that chapter last night I’ve been really motivated to change!
In keeping with the tips I’ve learned from this book I’ve started using a new tool, called the GTDTiddlyWiki for managing my goals and for organizing my tasks. I’ve got a default list of Today’s Tasks (today I set it in the morning, but I reviewed and set Tasks for tomorrow at the end of the day) and also a list of Short (next 1-4 weeks), Medium (1-6 months), Long (6 months – 2 years) and Very Long Range Goals (2+ years).
My Short Term goals mostly relate to my current tasks and things I need to get done, Medium Term goals are things that are a little more vague like “Keeping up with ASP.NET developments” that will transform as new code is released, Long Term and Very Long Term goals are goals about my company (i.e. growth by number of employees and earnings) and writing a novel.
I wonder what the effect of reading these things will be on me? I’m excited to find out. I’m going to try to post to the blog a little more often, and this is definitely one of the things I will blog about.