Leveraging Routines to Drive Results

When I hear the word routine, I want to zone out.  I automatically think – boring…humdrum.  I like for my life to be exciting, but as much as I like to consider myself adventurous and exciting, I do not like for my results to be thrown together.  I don’t like to be late, and I do not like to be unprepared.

I have several routines that help me with consistency and that helps me to move from being a professional “meeter” (this should really be added to Webster’s) to being an action-oriented contributor that gets things done.   The following are a few of those routines:

Project Management

  1. Create a plan.  
    Stop waiting until you have enough information.  There’s never a perfect time.  You will never have all the information that you need.  Do it anyway.  You will appear a lot more together than you are, and you will progressively elaborate.  Your plan will get smarter every week.
  2. Review the plan with the team, CONSISTENTLY.
    Your plan can only get better if you actively make it better.  If the team is looking at the plan weekly, important tasks will magically happen.  Well… it’s not magic.  However, looking at the plan with the team and talking about how to make progress creates momentum and helps gel the team.  
  3. Engage consistently with your project sponsor/managing stakeholder.
    I have found that a weekly review with the project sponsor helps to ensure that I am focusing my attention on the right things.  Overkill you say?  You could be doing wonderful and great things, but if you are not meeting your stakeholder’s expectations, you are falling short.  

    Meeting Management
  4. What happened in the meeting shouldn’t stay in the meeting.  This isn’t Vegas.
    Ensure that meeting minutes are taken, sent,  and actioned against.  If no one does it, we are doomed to meet over and over again on the same topics.  You will find yourself rehashing conversations and trying to remember what decisions were made and who said they were going to do what.  If I am the one who created and shared the minutes; I include myself in the distribution of the minutes so that when I get the email, I write down on my to-do list what I said I would do.  
  5. Schedule Meetings that make sense to anyone that reads the invite.  
    At the time I create an invitation, I add the specific objective of the meeting and the agenda.  When I kick off the meeting, sometimes weeks later, I am still very clear on the specific purpose of the meeting.  That is so much better than saying, “Uhhhhh… thank you for coming ummmmm…” and making up something on the spot.  Additionally, sometimes I start to create an invite and realize as I write the objective and agenda that this shouldn’t be a meeting.  Instead, I should just pick up the phone and call one person.  No reason to disturb the lives of 8 other folks that have plenty of things to do.

None of those things sounded like routines, did they? I am sure that they sound like simple ways to get things done, and that is all a routine is- a set of actions that you consistently follow.  Are you consistent about practicing the ones that I mentioned above?  What are a few non-negotiable routines that you have found that make your projects go a little smoother?

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