Record Keeping and Accountability

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Robinne Weiss

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May 19, 2015
New Zealand
I got an e-mail yesterday from New Zealand's National Library--a reminder that I hadn't yet sent them copies of my latest publication (which we're required to do if we have a NZ ISBN). It's not the first time I've forgotten to send them a book. But I remembered setting aside the physical copies. Had I forgotten to then post them?

Fortunately, my quarterly plan for July-Sept had a record of it. I was able to see I'd sent copies on August 14. I emailed back, they checked, and quickly apologised for their mistake--they had received them.

I sometimes think I'm a bit too anal, having a quarterly plan. But then something like this happens and I feel justified. I was introduced to quarterly plans thirty years ago in the Peace Corps, when our supervisor required them in order to make sure that we weren't simply sitting in our hammocks all day (easy to do when you're working alone in a remote location). I found the structure quite helpful, with columns for goals, steps required to achieve those goals, deadlines, whether you'd completed the steps, and why you hadn't accomplished a goal if you'd failed to do so. Quarterly plans were not only a way to guide future work, but also a way to document things I'd completed.

After Peace Corps, I continued with quarterly plans. They guided my job searches, helped me complete my Master's degree, organised my work tasks, and helped me run my own business. When I felt discouraged about how little I had accomplished, I could look back at my quarterly plans and say, "okay, I did do some good stuff...more than I thought." Today they keep my writing on track, providing deadlines, structure, and a plan to keep me progressing, even when rejections, world events, social media, and family obligations discourage and distract me.

Of course, I'm always looking for ideas to improve my planning and keep myself focused. How do you stay on track? What tools do you use to keep you going, record your accomplishments, and hold yourself accountable? How do you set goals, and what timeframe do you work with (quarterly, annually, weekly?)
 
I have a plan.
And a dream.
For the dream to come true, the plan must be in place. How to measure something that doesn't exist yet? Plan for it.
My plans are annual, broken down to quarterly, monthly, weekly.
Bits and bobs for each week that lead into the annual goals.
The annual goal is the one on the wall with bold statements of expected achievements. It's easy to see each time I walk past, a reminder of the end-game.
The schedule is closer to my work area, with three columns and two rows for each item: expected start date (actual start date in second row), expected end date, actual end date (or write-off date - not all plans come to fruition), and carry-over date may also apply here (with a note to the where/when).
However, I often don't check the overall progress until I finalise something, or the end of the year, and I'm happy to maintain quite a lot of flexibility in everything except one (writing time allocation).
 
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