Job descriptions vs. goals
Raise your hand if you have a job description - a paragraph or eight that describe your role and responsibilities in your current position.Now, raise your hand if you have a specific set of goals for what you are supposed to accomplish today, this week, this month, and this quarter. I'm betting that there's little, if any, overlap between those two groups. I used to be in the job description camp, and I was pretty effective. I built stuff, went to meetings, talked to people, got stuff done... I think I did a good job of matching the description. For the last eight months or so, however, I've been in the second camp. In lieu of a formal job description, I have specific, measurable goals to accomplish in any given time period. As a result, I can tell you exactly how I'm doing at any given point, and where I need to focus my efforts to get more done. For freelancers, of course, this is probably an obvious change – when you work for (and substantially by) yourself, your job description is "get everything done," which means you have to fall back on goals. For employees, however, changing your mindset from a vague prose passage to a set of concrete goals can be a massive shift. It can dramatically improve your effectiveness at your current job – or it could show that you should've been doing something different all along.