Some coaches like to use a tool to help someone they coach look at his or her own life and how things are going from a big picture perspective as opposed to just focusing on one specific aspect of someone’s life like their career success. The goal is to see how much balance there is across various areas in someone’s life. The template helps identify life values and then it helps as a check-up to do maybe once a year to see how things are going in terms of maintaining a balanced life.
People dealing with signs of burn-out may also benefit from using this kind of tool with their coach to see where their lives may not be balanced or may not be a good reflection of their values. Meaning that the choices they make in how they spend their time (for example) do not line up with the things that they care about the most.
Imagine your life looked like a pizza
The starting point is to imagine your life has segments or aspects that matter to you. Imagine there is a segment called Financial health which is important to you because you like to have nice new clothes and a nice car. So you would have to make sure you pay attention to being able to earn money so that you are able to buy those things that matter to you. Another segment may be friends – and it would be important to spend time with your friends or you may find they are less engaged with you. This is how one starts to identify what each of those “pizza slices” of your life may be.
Once you have answered the questions and determined the total score for each segment in your life you can color it in to see a result like this example above. In this case the “friends” segment has a very high score in the result but another aspect like career has a very low score.
This template can be the basis for evaluating your “life set-up” and then you can work with your coach to discuss how balanced this is for you given your priorities in life. If you want to increase the outcomes in a specific area, simply start setting some goals in that area and then plan to follow through with actions to help achieve it.
Interpreting the results from this kind of tool is best done with someone who has experience in this area – like a coach. It is also easier to set goals and create a plan to meet them when you have someone to help you think it through. Holding yourself accountable to make sure you actually work on the actions you have planned can also be supported best by a trusted buddy or coach who can remind you what you had committed to take action on and highlight to you when you seem to be off-track.
After a survey, a brainstorming session or a discussion it is often true that you end up with a long list of actions that should be put into an action plan. With many actions, maybe only a small number of people available to execute on those actions and possibly a small budget available for some of the actions, this could seem overwhelming. The important question is: How can you prioritize the actions so you can make the most of the available resources (people to work on them) and funding (available budget)? And on top of that make sure that the most important actions are completed first?
Rate all the projects or activities on two questions:
what is the level of impact on your company, project, company if you completed that project/activity? (high means it would me a very big difference (positively))
how hard is it to implement this? (referring to available resources, skills and knowledge needed, tools needed, funding needed) (very difficult means you have very limited resources and budget and this project or activity would need more than you have available right now)
Use the scores obtained to plot your planned projects or activities onto this graphic: (the graphic shows an example based on the table and ratings above)
Use the guide below to understand which of your projects or activities should be a high priority, low priority or medium priority with possible additional research needed.
One the one hand the question is: can you overcome what is difficult about that particular activity or project? Can you (for example) convince someone make more funding available if you present a very solid business case to highlight the value to the company or the project?
Or can you get more people to help? The other question to look into is whether the impact is really as low as you imagine? Speak to others to hear their views of how such a project or activity could possibly benefit more areas than you think. Perhaps the project is much more valuable than you think and it moves into the “green” quadrant meaning it should be a high priority for you to work on and complete.
If your dots appear in one of the yellow sections, you have some questions to ponder. If you can solve the question in each case you may be able to move that particular action into a different “zone” by changing the score. This means you are able to for example make it easier to implement by solving an issue which made it particularly difficult to implement. Or it could mean you realize the business impact is bigger than you previously realized because the company could gain a competitive edge if you implemented that particular action. Your final action plan for immediate focus areas should contain those actions which finally end up in the green zone on the legend.
Be sure to communicate the reasoning behind your high priority actions to the key stakeholders in the outcomes of the action plan. They may have additional insights to share which could further cause you to change the scoring of actions.
You can use the Action Plan posted here to capture the actions that you will implement, monitor status of and report on regularly.
Before you can select goals and development objectives for your life and your career, you need to know what you value above all else in your life. Deciding how to spend your time, how to use your energy and where to focus your efforts – all of that starts with knowing what matters to you. Only when you know what you value the most, are you ready to make deliberate choices that reflect what matters to you the most.
Values drive how you spend your time and how you make choices and decisions for activities and events that are important to you. Your values are especially helpful with choosing among options – which events to attend, what to do first, which actions to take next etc. When it comes to decision-making: select options that align best with your values and avoid options that are not aligned with your values or may even be opposites to your values.
This tool (see download option above) an help you define your own values; it contains a list of statements to guide you on your quest. Instructions on how to use the template can be found at the top of the worksheet. First you read through the statements and then put a Y for yes in the first column to indicate those statements which most appeal to you from a gut-feel perspective. (It seems or feels right to you; knowing yourself and what you find important in life). The next step is to look at only the ones you have selected with a Y – put a score between 1 and 10 next to the selected items using the column to the right of each statements to indicate how important that selected statement (representing a value) is to you. The highest scores indicate your highest values. Rephrase or clarify any of the value statements if they do not fit 100% with how you see it.
Feel free to add more statements or words at the bottom of the list if you think of values that are not shown. I find that these lists are good at helping one start-up the process and then your own ideas and words start to pop into your mind. This then enables you to complete the process without needing to use the listed statements.
Once you have your list of top 5 values, check that against how you spend your time and ask yourself if your choices reflect your values or not. If they do, great. If they do not, what will you change to ensure you spend your time in a way that reflects your values better?
Look at people you spend time with. Are you surrounded by people who share your values or do they have different values? If their values are aligned with yours, great. If their values are not aligned with yours, what will you do to ensure that you are able to live up to your own values?
Your job and the company you work for/the office environment – do you feel that your values are compatible with the environment and how leaders are behaving? Are people (employees and customers) being treated in a way that you feel is aligned with your values? I am not suggesting that you resign tomorrow if there is a disconnect between your values and status quo. Instead I would like to pose a question… what can you do to positively impact how things are being done right now? And what do you think are the best steps to take if you do not see any improvement over time or a better alignment with your values?
It is not easy to hold yourself accountable in this way; knowing what your values are and being honest with yourself about how well your life choices align with your values. It is possible that some people will get upset with you when you consciously start making different choices with the way you spend your time and the things you are interested in or willing to do. The benefit of making decisions with your values in mind is that you will be able to take a more direct line to accomplishing your goals. This will impact time management, prioritizing preferences and cutting out those items that distract you from achieving the goals and objectives that you have set for yourself.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” (Gandalf)
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
How you choose to spend your time is a good indicator of the activities and people who are most important to you in your life. It shows your priorities clearly. How well do your daily activities reflect your priorities?
Have you faced any of these challenges?
Personal Development. Maybe you have considered taking an evening class to improve your skills or obtain a qualification you need, but you are not sure how you will find time to attend that class because of your busy life. Taking a closer look at how you spend the time that you do have may help you see opportunities to change your schedule and make more time for career development activities.
Leaders and managers have many priorities to manage and often feel there are not enough hours in every day to accomplish the business objectives they have set for themselves and their teams. Taking a closer look at how you spend every day and every week my give you some interesting insights. You may discover areas where you could refocus yourself or delegate activities to free up more time for those other priorities.
Performance feedback could be indicating that your supervisor/manager feels you are not using your time at the office in productively. This template can also help you discover where he or she may be right and whether you are actually using your time optimally to achieve the performance goals that you and your boss have agreed upon.
The template, which you can download below, helps you to take stock of what you are doing with all of the time that you have available to you. I once discovered that 30% of my time was at my own discretion and I created a mantra for myself “make the 30% count.” Whenever I caught myself involved in an activity that I had labeled as of low value to me given my own goals and values, I would just remind myself of the mantra and shift my focus to a higher value activity.
Should you need more development in how to be more effective at work, I suggest you look for a class on time management tools. These classes typically focus on how to get better at email management, how to better plan your day to do the right type of activities at the right time of the day (energy management) and also how to get better at keeping track of your highest priorities and making sure that you are working on the right items at various check-in moments with yourself during the day. A coach or a buddy can also help you with this by not only sharing tools with you but also helping to keep you accountable for the goals and outcomes you have committed to.
I hope your efforts to take a closer look at how you spend your time has given you the awareness of how much time you have available to spend at your own discretion. Are you using your time wisely? Are you doing things that will get you closer to the goals you have for your life?
I found one has to repeat these quick checks on a regular basis – maybe every 6 months – to make sure you are still on the path you had set for yourself when it comes to being in charge of the time you have.