My "new years resolutions" this year revolve around process changes. One of my brothers and I periodically have long conversations about our businesses. In our latest phone call, he talked about how he's taught his employees that if they follow processes designed to bring about particular results, the results will come.
If you focus only on your goals, and don't put enough thought and effort into well designed processes, you're likely to get frustrated and give up. If on the other hand, you are able to build the right processes into your regular routine, reaching goals should occur naturally.
And if it doesn't, you should be able to fix that with one process that should be part of your regular routine -- reviewing your processes to see whether adjustments are needed to ensure that they lead to meeting your goals.
One potential advantage of looking at goals this way is that by following your processes, you can achieve a sense of accomplishment that's helpful in keeping you motivated and moving even if at first you don't design your processes correctly. After you've succeeded in following your processes for a little while, if you're not making enough progress toward your bigger goals, just reassess your processes to see why they're not working, improve them, and then get to work on your new processes. Does that make sense?
Okay, enough vague blabbering -- what are some of the processes I'm going to be implementing:
1) Like I said, regular review of my goals, processes and progress.
2) Every work day, make sure that all tech support requests from the previous day have been responded to. I don't know where I read this recently, but someone suggested that rather than trying to stay on top of today's emails, it's easier (emotionally) to focus on staying on top of yesterday's. Why? Because yesterday's list of emails is guaranteed not to get any bigger -- you know from the start how big the pile is, so you don't feel like you're bailing water from a sinking boat that still has a hole in it.
3) A temporary extension to #2: every work day, clear out one day's backlog of tech support requests till I get all caught up.
4) #2 and #3 are specific to tech support, since those are usually the most important emails I get, but I'll be extending those processes to cover other emails.
I've got some personal processes set up too, and I'm considering adding more processes for things like coming up with content for my blogs and mailing lists, training my affiliates, etc. But to start off, I'm focusing on getting into a good rhythm with what I've listed above. During my regular reviews, I'll decide what else to add when.
One more thing before I close -- if you can build automated or at least semi-automated systems to run your processes, you can do a lot more with the same amount of work. And don't forget that you can outsource some of your processes (which I plan to do with my tech support...I'm not quite ready to hand that off some someone else yet). Perhaps I'll write about systems and outsourcing later.