Shortly after really getting to know Niya, I realized that I’d likely
discovered thevfemale version of ME. However, unlike yours truly,
she’s organized, she doesn’t take CRAP from ANYONE, and she’ll hold
you accountable for whatever you do.
So who better to educate you on the ways you can sort out that crazy
life of yours without an assistant?
No one, that’s who. Enjoy her 5-day series – you’ll be a better person for it!
–Casey E. Palmer
First off, I’m so thrilled that I’ve been allowed to write not one,
but five (yes, you read that correctly!) guest posts for Casey! It’s
quite the expression of trust. Hopefully you find this series as
useful and informative as you find the regular content here. Frankly,
I was a bit intimidated at the thought of writing this many guest
posts since my blog (http://deartoboys.tumblr.com/) is a rather
eclectic collection of musings, inspiration pieces and though
triggers. I knew that just wouldn’t do for this exercise. Then I
realized I actually had stellar inspiration for this series of posts.
I often joke with Casey that he should get an assistant. He does so
very many things, and could use at least one, perhaps even two. I’ve
actually had this conversation with a number of incredibly bright,
talented, charismatic young men who take on the world every day, and
are really committed to making a huge difference in their spheres of
influence. Given that I may be unemployed soon, I’ve offered them my
services, but I know I can do better than that. I can give (and you)
some insight into how I’ve made my life incredibly workable, without
Of course, you may wonder what makes me qualified to give this sort of
advice (other than the fact that Casey likes and trusts me enough to
publish this). I’m one of the co-organizers for Toronto Bakes for
Japan (http://www.tiffintales.com/bake-for-japan/), a weekend long
bakes sale for the Japanese Red Cross Society. We recently raised over
$30,000. My partner planner and I put it together, while holding down
a full time day jobs, making it to the gym, going to our
extracurricular activities (she’s taking FSL classes, I sit on other
planning committees) and maintaining some semblance of a social life.
We were nice to people, and to each other during the whole process.
And no, we don’t have assistants. Granted it was only a bake sale –
but it’s a great example.
So here’s how you can change the world, or just make your life more
workable, without an assistant.
2. Words with Friends and the importance of keeping them
3. Networks and the importance of mobilizing them
4. Maintaining the Vision
5. Inspiring support
I’m a big fan of planning and I love lining up dominoes. Knowing
exactly how the story is going to progress and end is the biggest
rush. I know not everyone feels this way. Some of you are far better
at executing plans (I’ll confess to getting a bit lazy when it comes
to this) and others of you like the spontaneity of diving headlong
into things and figuring it out as you go along. These approaches work
for some things – but if you’re going to change the world, or if you
don’t have someone to take care of all the little things (like booking
appointments, following up on correspondence, doing laundry) entropy
will eventually take over and life will get chaotic and stressful. It
doesn’t have to be that way.
I’m not saying you’ve to plan out every last detail, though I won’t
ever advise against it. I am suggesting you take a page from your
favourite project manager’s book and come up with a project charter.
Define exactly what it is you are going to do. This means the scope
for your project (and sticking to it within reason!). Set your
objectives and be SMART (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria)
about them if you can.
Determine your resources. This means time, man power, budget,
supplies, mentors etc. This will help you see what holes need filling
(which is important for part 3 and 5). This will help when you
Figure out your tasks. Sure you know what you’re going to do…but how
are you going to make it happen. Everything is a process, and
processes are historical. If you’ve never done whatever it is you are
going to do before, look it up. Better yet, talk to someone who has
already done it. I know you’re fabulously innovative, wonderfully
unique and that there’s no possible way anyone could have done what
you’re setting out to do…but just like there are no original
thoughts, just fantastically creative amalgamations, someone else has
probably done something quite similar to what you’re going to do. And
it really couldn’t hurt, so tamp down that ego a bit, and talk to
Delegate. You can’t do it alone (that’s why you think you need an
assistant) and you have friends. They have skills, so ask for their
help, and then trust them to do things that you need done. Remember
that they aren’t your assistants, but they are your friends. So long
as the arrangement has some degree of reciprocity or reward, your
friends will want to help you succeed.
Schedule! This will make all the difference. Use whatever scheduling
tool you know works for you. I like my moleskine, because I can layer
in lists, drawings, business cards etc. Maybe you love your google
calendar, or your smart phone. Whichever you choose – make sure it’s
one you check regularly (by which I mean every few hours/once a day).
I prefer to schedule every last thing because the devil is always in
the details, but you know yourself best.
Track. Use a Gantt chart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gantt_chart),
build a critical path
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_path_method), or create a
(http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_02.htm). Remember to
build in buffer days so that things can go awry and you can fix them.
Put the dates in your calendar of choice (with reminders 48 hours
before the deadlines).
So now you have a plan. Congratulations on getting into action on
creating a workable life that you can live with grace and ease. Watch
for my next post on realizing this plan. I’ll fill you in on the
surprising importance of words with friends.