The following is a journal entry from Monday, April 16, 2001 12:26 PM about needing a better goal system:
I went to bed last night feeling a bit overwhelmed with things. I realized yesterday that I had lost balance again yesterday morning. I spent a couple of hours reading as an escape from doing whatever I should have been doing. I have been trying to balance things better since January when I did the same thing for an entire day….
I pulled out the book, “First Things First” by Steven Covey. I read a little bit last night. He has a quadrant system for prioritizing things. It looks like this:
|Important||Quad I||Quad II|
|Deadline-driven projects||Relationship building|
|Not Important||Quad III||Quad IV|
|Interruptions, some phone calls||Trivia, busywork|
|Some mail, some reports||Some phone calls|
|Some meetings||Time wasters|
|Many proximate, pressing matters||“Escape” activities|
|Many popular activities||Excessive TV|
After looking at this, [my wife] asked how I feel like I do. I said I spend almost all of my time on important things. I really don’t feel like I spend much time on Not Important things at all. That is a very good thing.
I also do pretty well with things that are not urgent. I do spend time preparing for things, and working on things that are of long-term importance. But I think I do some of these things by moving them to the urgent category. I have even figured out how to make [some goals]… “deadline-driven projects”. It allows me to spend time on them, and I set the dates early enough so that I am not doing everything at the last minute. But it has a toll on me.
The thing that gets lost is the “True re-creation”. I don’t get enough exercise. I worked too much on [a home improvement project] on the weekend, and didn’t have a little down time with [my wife]. That is what put me over the edge on things yesterday morning.
As I looked through the book, I decided that I am not taking enough time planning my week. I need to increase the amount of time I spend looking at my calendar for the week, and actually putting in spaces of time to accomplish task.
I keep too many tasks on my task list. It gets cluttered, and never gets cleared off. I would feel better if I got my task list empty sometimes. It would be great if I could get it cleared of “immediate tasks” every week. That would allow me to feel more like I was free to do what I want to do, not what I am supposed to do.
I also don’t plan time to do the tasks that need to be done. I guess this is a change in the way I manage myself. …
The Personal Balanced Scorecard System
Over the next few years, I developed what I called the Personal Balanced Scorecard System. Here is my description of it.
This spreadsheet contains formatting and program functions to assist in the use of a personal balanced scorecard system.
Harvard professors developed the concept of a balanced scorecard as a way of measuring a company’s success by specific measures that encompass the entire mission of the organization. (See “Putting the Balanced Scorecard to Work” Harvard Business Review) I determined that a similar approach would be effective for personal goal keeping.
To use this system, you need to first determine what roles in life you play. Roles are things that don’t change too often, such as spouse, parent, child, professional, volunteer, etc. You enter your life’s roles as columns in the scorecard system. Roles are also assigned to theaters, which are places we usual play that role, such as family, work, personal life, etc. Roles change over time if needed. But by entering all the roles you play, you can ensure that your balanced scorecard covers all aspects of your life, helping to integrate and balance roles. Don’t forget to define your role as an individual, in need mental, spiritual, physical and social improvement and exercise.
Stephen Covey, in “First Things First” discusses the “Balances of Roles” (p. 118). In many ways we tend to see our goals and roles as different bases in a baseball game. The more time we spend on one base (for example work), the less time we can spend on another (home). The only way to be effective is to run faster between the bases or give up on one of them. But the rules of life aren’t necessarily the same as a baseball game. In life, who says we can’t pick up the bases, move them all to home base, and be fulfilling all those roles at the same time? Perhaps moving all the bases together is not possible, but at least moving 1st base next to 2nd, and 3rd next to home would cut down on the amount of running we do between our different roles.
After establishing roles, determine individual goals. While determining goals, think about the different roles you play. As you enter a goal for a specific role, enter a “1” in the column under that [role], indicating that by fulfilling this goal, you will be acting in that role. You should look for ways you can set a goal that helps fulfill two or more different roles. This increases one of the key statistics of the personal balances scorecard system: The Integration Ratio.
The key statistics of the balanced scorecard system are (1) The Integration Ratio. This statistic measures the average number of roles we fulfill with each goal. A higher integration ratio means a higher effectiveness with our time. The ratio is the average of the number of roles filled by a goal, less the percentage of roles with no goals. This encourages having a least one goal in each role, and finding ways to integrate roles. (2) Planned or Schedule Percentage. Goals that are scheduled on a planner with a time are much more more likely to be accomplished than those that are not. (3) The Completion Percentage. This is a simple percentage of the goals that are complete.
The balanced scorecard system can increase your personal effectiveness in a sustainable manner and without neglecting any role in your life.
Here is a sample of the spreadsheet for one week
In this week I
- Scheduled time for 100% of my goals
- Complete 100% of my goals
- Tracked time spent for 31 hours of the week
- Had 17 different roles I played
- Created 9 goals
- Which intersected with roles a total of 48 times
- My plan was that I would fill 4.44 roles per goal
- I ended up filling 5.33 roles per goal on average
Theaters are reflected in the first row single character grouping of roles.
Results of Goal Setting
The following shows the results of my use of this spreadsheet for the year 2003.
Analysis of Time Usage
In January of 2005, I wrote the following summary of my experience in understanding my use of my time more effectively.
You may (or may not) be interested in the results of my personal time study for the last year. I estimated daily my time spent in different areas of my life for about 35 weeks of this last year. In January of last year I thought I should try to allocate my time as follows:
• 30% or about 50 hours for Family
• 30% or about 50 hours for Work
• 30% or about 50 hours for Personal, meaning sleeping, eating, etc
• 10% (a tithe) or about 18 hours for Church/community
My actually results were:
• 27% or about 45 hours for Family
• 24% or about 40 hours for Work
• 39% or about 66 hours for Personal, mean sleeping, eating, etc
• 8% or about 14 hours for Church
• 2% or about 3 hours for Community
Two different scout camps, two different family vacations and local chartiy work in December helped Church, Family, and Community areas respectively. I didn’t include the significant overlap there is for family and church or commuity service, counting the hours in only one area.
Excluding weeks I took a day or more of vacation I worked an average of 50 hours a week. But when including all weeks, I worked an average 40 hours a week exactly. Sort of like not getting vacation, but that is a our modern world. My work schedule last Spring was not really that demanding, so this might be a lower number than I have had in other years.
My personal time was substantially more than the 50 hours a week I estimated; certainly a bad estimate. I need to sleep 8 hours a night and I need to exercise, etc. This time also includes my personal… study, etc.
So perhaps a better estimate would be
• 25% or about 42 hours for Family
• 25% or about 42 hours for Work
• 40% or about 67 hours for Personal, meaning sleeping, eating, etc (9 1/2 hours a day)
• 10% (a tithe) or about 17 hours for Church/community
I don’t know if I will do anything new with this information, but I thought it was interesting.
Although for a different year than summarized above, I believe the above was written based upon this kind of data.
My summary of the system also included descriptions of macros I created in the spreadsheet:
To begin the process, select New Period from the menu. Make changes to the “Template” page while completing the pervious week’s goals. When the pervious week is finished, select “Planning/Preplanning Complete” to start a new week. Complete planning by planning when you will work on each goal. Use the “Planing Complete” command to update the summary page with your plan. As you work through the week, mark goals as complete, and update the roles you play as you complete them. You can even track the amount of time spent on different goals. At the end of the week, use the “Evaluate Results” command to update the summary page with results of the week. Periodically you can use the “Periodic Analysis” command to see how you are spending your time, and assigning your goals to roles.
As a consultant, it was helpful for me to keep up with technology, and this programming helped me to do that.
Additionally, my work also dealt a great deal with data, metrics, measurement, reporting and analysis. This system allowed me to gain greater insights into the entire life cycle of these processes, from defining measurement metrics, to tracking improvements, finding at times metrics I thought were important ended up not being, seeing how measurement affected my behavior, the need for consistency in data, but allowing for changes over time, and many other practical things.
The following graphic gives a sense of the formulas I used. I used named ranges for the week to allow the copying of the template to create new versions for each week.
Although I only used this system for 4 or 5 years, it created within me a way of looking at the world and thinking how best to use my time. I also gained skills at being more effective and organized, and working towards long-term objectives while achieving consistently short-term needs across many dimensions of my life.
I found that I really couldn’t improve my Integration Ratio much over time; a consistent upward trend within a year was just not possible given how my life was structured. Once I had a sense of how my time was spent, I didn’t see a lot of changes I could make to it. So having become accustomed to thinking of my time management in this context, I didn’t really need the system any longer. More simple ways of doing it were possible.
And thus, I believe the principles included in the system could be implemented a lot of different ways; I would recommend it for those interested in being effective with your time.
The Scorecard System
The following is the spreadsheet for the year 2003.