Self Development Plan: 4 Self-Optimisation Hacks To Improve Performance
Having a personal development plan has proved to me how important it is to advocate that change and improvement do not come effortlessly, but that there are simple life strategy hacks that can pave the way for personal development.
I was recently asked during a client meeting “How do you work day-to-day?” and I thought what a brilliant question that is! I took it as an opportunity to reflect on some of my self-improvement ideas and write down what I’ve learned in terms of how to optimise my time and how to maintain a healthy and happy life in and outside of my professional environment over the last couple of years.
📝 1 — Life Goals And Priorities First
I keep lists for everything: List of objectives (small and big) for each year, and list of projects I’m working on; most of them are big & ambitious and I, therefore, I have learned how to further break down objectives into smaller activities so they become more manageable:
One self-development hacks are that once a week, usually on Sundays, I take 15–20 min to review all of my objectives, then to plan for the week ahead. What are the top 3 things I want to get done next week? What are the activities I need to do to smash these goals? That is my week’s plan.
Before I start each working day, I list all the tasks I need to do today to get closer to my targets. Fun task but doesn’t serve my goals? Won’t make the priority list, or I do it when I have some “slack time” (more about this below).
▶️ I found that the time spent on planning my objectives & activities compared to the time wasted as a result of not doing it is well worth the planning effort.
📅 2 — The Calendar: A Gate To Your Time
An open gate gives anyone access to your home, but normally you’d not leave the gate wide open and open it selectively to protect your home from unwelcome intruders and annoyances, correct? I treat my calendar in the same way.
Another life strategy hack is learning how to value your time. I welcome time for the things I need to do and reject time that does not have a clear purpose or is a distraction in the moment. I do, however, factor in some ‘slack time’ always, which is time for anything “unplanned” that might come up and needs my attention anyway.
Generally, since I am most productive in the morning, I schedule difficult tasks or the ones that require more concentration before 2 PM. After that I usually only do ‘low-key’ tasks such as chasing people, admin, organising things, scheduling meetings, etc. Last but not least, since I am not super productive in the afternoon, I usually go on a run or workout then. It is important to me to always have time for myself, no matter what.
▶️ My mantra: Be available, but not accessible for everything and everyone in order to maximise your time.
📲 3 — The Right Amount of Talking vs. Getting Things Done
Who doesn’t know the feeling of responding to every email that comes in and finding themselves having achieved nothing at the end of the day? Well, I’ve been there for sure! Hence, I now answer emails and WhatsApp usually only 2x a day: in the morning and late afternoon. Everyone who is working with me does know that if there is anything urgent, they can call or WhatsApp me anytime though.
Slack, WhatsApp, etc. … They are worse than TikTok and IG. You can spend hours and hours on them and not achieve anything. I will occasionally check and also use them when required to complete a task, but otherwise, I try to keep away from them.
▶️ Important: To avoid being perceived as antisocial or uninterested by your co-workers, make sure they know when they can catch you for a chat and coffee/tea.
📂 4 — Organisation is Everything
We all should have personal development goals for work and outside of work. But how do you organise your time?
I tried countless time organisation platforms and systems over the years, the following combination seems to work best for me and I use them simultaneously on all of my devices:
- Trello = to manage my day-2-day activities, you can create different boards for different projects (I even have a board called “my life” lol!)
- Wunderlist (now Microsoft To Do) = since I have a lot of ideas and things to remember but not the best memory (working on it…), I use it to capture all sorts of things from grocery shopping to new business ideas
- Evernote = to capture important notes, meetings and for journaling
I have set them up on every device I have, so whether I’m in the gym, in the office or at home, I can always quickly access them so nothing in my mind gets lost.
▶️ “Less is more” and “Accessibility” are key for me when choosing which systems I use.
So what can you do to become more organized and productive, to have more time on your hands?
No matter what career stage and level you find yourself at, you can start improving your performance now. TRUST ME. Self-optimization shouldn’t wait. I started doing it when I was an intern and people generally believe you have to be a slave to everyone and everything to “make it”!
To begin with your personal development plan, I want to share three recommendations:
- Make your team/manager aware of how you prefer to work & get them to “buy-in” to your approach. If they don’t, don’t worry and remember: everything in life is a negotiation.
- Know yourself and what your life goals are so you can design your day around them. You absolutely have to know what you want to get out of your day!
- Be able to stick to your principles once established and enjoy more free time as a result :)
One last thing….
What works for me does not necessarily work for everyone. I have tried countless tools, systems, time management techniques, communication styles, etc. — anything I could possibly pick up from books and the world’s most successful leaders! Until I found the combination that clicked — for me. The key is to experiment as much as possible so you can find a routine that serves you.
I have always worked way fewer hours than most people in my industry (mgmt. consulting) while receiving great performance reviews. I attribute this entirely to good habits, principles and a bit of discipline. In other words: I like to self-optimise to get the most out of each day & have more time.
To this day, as the founder of humanplus, I still follow these self-optimization hacks in my own personal life and in the business setting. So when working with my team or providing consulting services to a client, the whole attitude is centred around optimization and healthy time balance. These are more than tips, these are some of the principles embraced by humanplus, and these principles make up one our core services pertaining to conscious leadership, so be sure to check that out to see how we help build leaders that create value while preserving their life balance.
I hope this will help someone to get the most out of today. Let me know how you’ve learned to self-optimize too. 🙏😊
… And since I have some free time on my hands, I’d be happy to have a chat too. :)