Monthly Archives: January 2010

How Not to Get Fired

“If you are not fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.”
— Vince Lombardi quotes (American Football Coach, 1913-1970)

What if you were told that based on your job performance on a single day, a decision was being made on whether or not you should stay in your present job?

And what if you were found out that today was that day? What would you do differently? How much harder would you work? Would you finally get around to writing up a few of the new ideas you’ve been sitting on? Would you try to get some face time with your manager to let her know how hard you’ve been working?

While this is only a hypothetical scenario, I’ve found that it can be an excellent tool for focusing your mind and helping you to get back your sense of urgency.

It’s easy to become complacent at work, with your efficiency slowly degrading over time, especially if you’ve been at the same company and in the same position for a number of years. Not to mention all of the everyday distractions, like the Internet, water cooler discussions and outside errands, which steal your time away from productive tasks.

Try this. Every couple weeks or so, take a step back and think to yourself, “what can I do today so that I don’t get fired? If you take this concept seriously, all of your thoughts will coalesce around your most important activities and you will naturally avoid diversions.

This is not something you should be doing every day. The stress alone could probably kill you. But as a regular gut check, it can work wonders for your career.

Save the Planet: Start a Work Diary

“Time is the wisest counselor of all.”
–Pericles, Greek statesman (c. 495 – 429 BC)

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
— Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (c. 1952 – 2001)

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to with saving the planet.  I just needed a catchy title.  But there are some great time management tips in here, so please read on…

One advantage of being a consultant is that you always have to keep track of how you’re spending your time.  Now, that might not necessarily seem to be a positive aspect of consulting life, but I’m going to make the case to you that it is.

Ask yourself the following questions.  What did you accomplish today at work?  How about during the past week?  Month?  Year?  I’ll bet you would have to sit down and seriously think about this.  Even then, you would probably miss a fair amount due to the sheer volume of different activities at most companies (that is, unless you work on an assembly line).

Knowing your accomplishments is important when annual review time comes around.  Managers can’t keep track of what all of their direct reports have done over a twelve month period.  If you don’t have the details then your salary increase could hinge on what your manager can remember from the past few months.

Keeping a work diary (activity record, time log, or whatever you want to call it) is easy to begin, but requires increasing amounts of discipline to maintain, depending on how often you want to update it.  I would recommend a minimum of monthly updates for the long term, but weekly is better since you have less information to forget.

Besides noting your accomplishments for the week, you should also include issues that came up that you couldn’t resolve and your plans for next week.  Link everything according which of  your annual goals to which they best relate.  Reviewing this over time will provide great perspective on your progress towards meeting your goals.

A time log is just one tool to help you to Think Like a Consultant.  Try it for a few months and share your results with us.