I’ve found myself thinking of gold stars lately. This is partly due to a dear friend and co-worker going on to a better place: she’ll be moving to the seaside. While I am incredibly happy for her, she’ll be greatly missed around the office. She was known to give out gold stars to colleagues for a job well done, and it was amazing to see how people worked for this recognition.
The other reason? I now find myself surrounded by bits of paper that, at first glance, look like a child’s chore chart. Tasks are laid out week by week in a grid, just waiting for me to add the check mark that signifies that I’ve completed it. Each paper ties into a goal I’d like to accomplish as part of my first 12 Week Year.
This productivity system developed by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington harnesses the power of year-end deadlines to help people accomplish more by making each day count. The limited time helps you prioritise what really needs to be done to help you reach those goals, and gently weans you away from the busy work that often fills up a to-do list. A key part of the system is the weekly execution score, where you actually measure the
progress you’ve made. But to measure that progress, the activities you carry out need to be measurable themselves. Enter the chart.
For example, one of my goals is to use moisturiser twice a day. I tend to have dry skin with a touch of eczema that flairs up when stressed or during dry winter weather. I know what I need to do to mitigate the problem—keep my skin hydrated—but without a habit in place, I found it just didn’t get done. What was required was consciously building it into my daily routine, so I now have a chart where I can check off that I have moisturised in the morning and evening. It seems so basic, but being able to see exactly what has been done makes a big difference. Each of my five 12 Week goals has a similar system that I am using to keep myself on track, but I’ve found it has had a secondary purpose: reminding me that I am actually moving forward.
Which brings me back to my friend’s gold stars. How often do we give ourselves recognition for what we’ve achieved? Or even remember the things we’ve done? It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day lives that we forget to take stock of our accomplishments. Keeping a chart and seeing what you’ve done, and where you can improve, is a fantastically simple way to record your progress towards a goal, no matter how mundane it may seem.