Balance your productivity books

What did you achieve in 2013?
What did you achieve in 2013?

The end of the year is coming and if you are anything like me you find time to reflect and ponder over the year that has passed. This year I had a chance to show myself that I have actually made a difference to my organization and that my work has been valuable.

I recently had the good fortune to speak at the itSMF Sweden Expo 2013 in Gothenburg. It was actually the first presentation I have given in this line of business so I didn’t already have a presentation to just whip out and deliver. I had to create one.

Someone presumably knew that I had been working as a Configuration Manager for the same company for almost three years and they probably assumed that I would have some valuable insights to share with my peers by now.

So when I was asked to present what I and my colleagues had accomplished over the last three years my first reaction was:

“What a great honour, I’d be delighted! But… I haven’t anything to tell, we haven’t accomplished anything yet…”

Having said that to myself I quite rapidly asked myself:

Really? Not a single accomplishment during three years worth sharing? I must really suck at my job!”

I don’t believe that I suck at my job so I set out to balance my productivity books to get an idea of what we had accomplished and what results we had achieved.

Finding the records

Looking into the past can be both dreadful and uplifting. It’s so easy to judge choices and decisions in retrospect when you have all the answers at hand. But you can also find forgotten gems of good stuff that will remind you of things that mattered but had lost its place in yours and others minds.

At the same time you might find that you don’t keep your records in good enough order to know whether or not you’ve been valuable by the end of the year. I had to wade through a lot of documents, blogs, posts and tweets, and talk to quite a few people to find the good bits and pieces that I had left behind as imprints of accomplishments over the years. Many things were still in my head of course but when it came to details and hard facts, I had to dig deep and look far to find them.

To my surprise there was quite a lot of things to be found that showed my accomplishments. Not only in form of project reports and management presentations but also in actual effects in my organization. Effects that weren’t directly connected to what I had done but at least started with my doings.

One of the lessons learned here is to keep a better record of my own accomplishments. Starting 2014, I’ll track things I do in some kind of ledger so that I can find records of my activities more easily.

Doing the math

It’s a good thing to measure. I think most people in the ITSM industry can agree to that. And we have all heard, read and talked about the necessity of measuring in the smartest possible ways to gain results.

When it came to measurable results in my records, there was close to none, and the few metrics I had were not really comparable. And all that aside, I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to show or to whom.

It’s tricky measuring ones value or the value of ones accomplishments. I was pondering over one aspect of this in another article some time ago and I did come up with some interesting findings.

The value of metrics and what they tell you is probably not the most important aspect to consider if you want to balance your productivity books (a completely different story if you are balancing the financial records of your company, I’d presume). But if you are interested in numbers, do the math and see what you get. The result may surprise you.

Presenting the report

Even if you don’t have the opportunity to tell your peers in the community the results of your work with a presentation at a conference, you would gain from summarizing it in some way. This will force you to select what was important and what was not.

Use the result as a compilation of the work-year to keep in your personal archive. Use it to tell your boss what a great asset you are to the company. Use it to share your success with your peers, your spouse or even to explain to your mother what it is that you actually do at work.

But most importantly, use it to empower yourself with the knowledge that you have accomplished many important things this year and that you are your own fortune.

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