Are you sometimes overwhelmed by all the stuff going on in parallel? Especially when dealing with web operations, urgent tasks can blur your view on what’s really important.
In my last post about how to stop being busy and get productive instead, I showed a quick way of reconnecting with your goals. In this article, I want to show you how to use a synergy map to visualize all your projects and find a good balance between them. Next week, I’ll show you how to find synergies between your goals enabling you to pursue multiple projects at once.
Drawing a Synergy Map
For this exercise, you’ll need two sheets of paper, a couple of differently colored pens and maybe 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted time. What you’ll end up with is a one sheet overview of all the important parameters of your current projects and how they relate to one another. This will help you prioritize your tasks, find synergies and conflicts between projects and identify external influences that you need to keep an eye on.
List and Prioritize Your Projects
If you haven’t done it already, list your 7-9 most important projects and goals – both business and personal. Sort them by priority (i.e. assigning the number 1 to the most important project).
Position Your Projects According To Time Perspective
Now, take the other sheet of paper and draw a circle like this (or print it out if you’re a perfectionist 😉 ):
The four quadrants show different time horizons: short term, mid term, long term and permanent. Now, draw a circle for every project along the border of the time circle. The size of the circle should be a rough guess of the project’s size: Small circles for smaller projects and big circles for bigger projects. You might come up with something like this:
Add Level of Completion
For the next step, fill each project circle according to your rough estimate of the degree of completion. E.g. if you think, a project is three quarters done, fill three quarters of the project’s circle. Here is the example:
Show Your Feelings About Each Project
Take another color and mark all the projects you don’t like doing by shading them with the extra color. This gives you a visual impression, how balanced your “fun” projects are with your “must have” ones.
What Does It Mean?
Now, you should clearly see your projects distributed in time with their sizes, current degree of completion and your feelings about them. If you’re lucky, they are evenly distributed throughout all quadrants of the circle. That would mean you have a good balance between short, medium and long term goals, and you even address permanent challenges. If most of your projects are short term, only a few mid term, and nothing long term, then you should seriously consider shifting priorities. There are times where you simply cannot avoid such a pattern, but, if you neglect working on long term goals, your current situation will hardly get any better. Try to find at least one long term project and start integrating the next actionable task to bring it forward into your daily routine.
Next week, we’ll enhance the synergy map by adding synergies, conflicts and external factors. In particular, the synergies should help you add important long term goals to your already too busy daily routine because they don’t cause extra efforts and are easy to drive forward.