Meanwhile, it’s finals week! I am underwater with studying. Personal tax and financial accounting are left to go. Corporate tax was tonight–and it knocked me out. Plus, the exam didn’t finish until 9:45pm so…let’s just say I’m having Wendy’s for dinner.
I am taking five graduate classes, I have a graduate assistantship and a part-time job, I just mailed off the manuscript for a book of poetry coming out in the spring, I am an Anderson Career Services Student Ambassador, an AICPA Legacy Scholar, and the secretary-elect of Beta Alpha Psi. On Thursday, I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for five, my Christmas shopping is done, and my fantasy football team is holding down a solid second place in its 10-team league. I am presently riding the train up to Santa Fe, and despite the number of plates I have spinning, I feel rather relaxed and on top of things.
I say all this not in the name of self-promotion, but to set up the topic of this blog post: my tips and tricks to Getting Things Done.
First let me divulge that I was terrible at time management and task accomplishment as an undergraduate. I was the all-nighter kid, the never-reads-the-chapter, always-taking-a-break, perpetually-behind kid. I was definitely not the Secretary of anything. And though I worked as a tutor in my college’s writing lab (where I enthusiastically coached other students on academic and creative paper writing) I could be found most nights, all night, staring at the blinking cursor on a blank screen. Suffice it to say, college was a pretty excruciating and sleep-deprived experience.
Fast-forward back to the present— my MAcct degree is almost half-done, and I’ve hardly felt a thing! Ok, it has been hard work, but the kind of work that is calm, steady, manageable, rewarding, and even fun. I was reflecting a couple of days ago on what it is that I do that helps me get so many things done without really ever feeling busy, and I came up with three things:
Have Use a Planner. This is an easy one. When I was working at the same job all day every day, I could basically keep track of my schedule in my head. But there is no way, at this point, that I could remember all the places I am supposed to be and all of the things I need to get done, and with whom, and by when. So I have a planner. And I use it. And it is amazing.
Find a Really Big Table. Most activities and assignments are made 83% easier if you have the ability to spread out your materials as you attack them. This statistic comes from a very unscientific study of my own productivity. But I stand by it. Big tables. For the win.
Just Do It. I saved this item for last, because it is real secret to all my success. And it’s not something I came up with on my own. Over the past couple of years, I worked for and at times shared an office with a woman named Shasta Brooks (of Mail Call and Shasta Brooks Law). Anytime someone asked her to do something, she would do it immediately—and cheerfully. It was equal parts amazing and flabbergasting. There I was, with my to-do list, working and prioritizing and scheduling and trying to stay organized and always a little bit behind and a little bit grumpy. And she was just doing. With a smile. I have since switched to Shasta’s method, and let me tell you, it’s wonderful. When something is assigned, I do it. When I get an email, I answer it. As soon as I have the tools and information, I take care of the thing. There’s no backlog. No rushing right before the due date. No more all-nighters or don’t-bother-me moods.
When I met with Jason Deshayes, he gave me a lot of great advice, but one theme really stood out: don’t wait.
He mentioned joining non-profit boards early in his career–not waiting until he was a senior or partner (which, a decade later, he is).
And he suggested that if you are a senior staff member and you are wanting to move up to being a manager, don’t wait. Start doing whatever manager-type duties you can right away–take the initiative and the responsibility even before you have the title.
He said that something he has learned over the past decade is that even though you do have to let all the conditions come together on some things, you should never believe that “it’s not your time.” Don’t wait for someone else’s idea of “your time”–write your own course!
Being an AICPA Legacy Scholar has motivated me to start making professional connections, and to try and set myself up to become a future leader in the field–even before I have earned all the credits to sit for the CPA exam. For instance, I’m really interested in the sorts of conversations going on among current CPAs (especially young CPAs), so I follow people on twitter, follow firms and organizations on LinkedIn, and read blogs like the one at Thriveal.com.
The hashtag #aicpagc13 started showing up in my twitter feed this past weekend, along with some really great quotes and insights from speakers and panels at the meeting. So I tweeted about how great that was, and I was quoted in CPA Tom Hood’s Storify the next day. Pretty cool!
I’ve also started looking into CPA exam prep materials and test info; even though I can’t sit for the exam until next summer, I sure can get a head start on studying for it.
So my advice for today is: if you have an ambition to do something–start now. In whatever way you can. It all adds up.
So, it happened. I went to another amazing networking event on Friday, complete with UNM alumni and inspiring career advice from people who’ve lived it. I stayed for an hour, gathered some great take-aways, and then had to run off to what turned out to be 4 hours of group project work.
Afterwards, I crashed. Not like crashed=fell asleep, but crashed=”I can’t do this anymore, I can’t fit five classes and two part-time jobs and a career search and Legacy Scholar work and two mentors and all this amazing advice into one semester!!!”
It wasn’t much better the next morning, though I did knock out some homework and set a schedule for the rest of the weekend.
I know I’m doing fine, and everything’s under control, and the semester’s nearly half over, and I am on my way to reaching a lot of huge goals (!). But for the next 24 hours: I am taking a time-out.
If life is a series of flaps and glides (bird-style), it’s time for some glides.
I’ve got a lot of flapping to do next week (including two second interviews!), so today I’m going to be indoors, in sweatpants, textbook open, college football on TV, taking some deep breaths.