Hi, my name is Kirill, and I’m a workaholic. (Slow unenthused claps in the audience.) Granted, this may not sound all that terrible. Many of you are familiar with the term, “some wear it like a badge of honor”. For some reason, we tend to celebrate the notion that all-nighters and 24/7s are all signs of a well-adjusted human being. I was of the same opinion for the longest time, and now I’m in recovery.
The fact that my story is nothing out of the ordinary is what really speaks volumes about the present situation with workers all around the world. Since the nature of my previous work encapsulated working with documents and metrics, I have developed a soft spot for digits and numbers. All the more disturbing was the realization I had –
I’ve become nothing but a part of statistics.
I wasn’t able to stop worrying. I was one of 33% who took their work on vacation. I was a part of 37% who worked more than 40 hours a week.
What I wasn’t, is a part of 13% who felt engaged.
My main mistake was that I tried to be a people pleaser and simply couldn’t bring myself to say no. And so, my work kept piling up faster than I could manage it. One or two all-nighters here and there might have helped me, but even then it was not by much.
That’s the bitter truth about overworking – extra effort doesn’t mean you get more things done. It just means that you work more.
Work-addiction rarely comes in a form of affection, but rather as a Stockholm syndrome. Every time somebody called me, I had to come up with a new excuse to hang up and stay home. Soon this stopped being a problem, though, as nobody called me anymore.
Friends weren’t the only people I made excuses to. As every other addict, I was very quick to rationalize my own self-destruction. I have to deliver. I just need more money. I promise I will go on vacation this time. Sounds like those opening lines from Adaptation. Sweet-sounding promises that ultimately amounted to nothing, yet I kept promising to keep promises. Not now. One day. In the future.
Or, as Macbeth put it – Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
Thankfully, it seems like it’s in the past now. I can’t pretend to say that I have Eternal Sunshined this problem from my mind. But at least when I walk outside, the first thought that comes to my mind isn’t, “How much time do I have?” I would have never achieved that and more without Weekdone. And no, I’m not talking about the app Weekdone, I’m talking about the company Weekdone. Luckily for me, when I gave up the previous work and was looking for a new one, I managed to find one that dealt with the framework of Objectives and Key Results. Funny how that happens, huh?
So, this is how I turned my life around, in baby steps.
1. Starting small
I myself always responded better to tactile sensations. When I’m writing, I prefer to feel the paper against my pen. If I’m making a to-do list, I want to physically cross off every item. So, having never used any planning methodology beyond sticking post-it notes on the desk, it was hard at first to embrace OKR. But as I said, baby steps.
For your first time, you should create an objective that has one or two key results at most. Then, if you feel more confident, you can add another objective and throw in a couple of key results. The point is not to overwhelm yourself. Three is considered a powerful number for a reason, and if you want to stay on your toes, three is a perfectly good amount of objectives. Any more than that, and you fall into the old tired pit of, “Where do I begin?”
2. Finding inspirational objectives
A proper objective, as I’ve learned, should be a call-to-action, not a business plan. When coming up with a description for your objective, keep it short and easy to understand. Ideally, every time you read the objective, you have to visualize it in your head. Now, if you want to measure the outcome, you refer to key results. One objective can have multiple key results, and they should be easy to track. You can’t go too vague with them. The more specific the description, the better it is to follow your progress.
3. Keeping it regular
To make OKR work for you, you have to check your objectives and key results on a regular basis. Integrate them into your report, and if you don’t have it, start one immediately. Writing reports is part of OKR; they will allow you to better understand where you went wrong and what you did right. Review your past goals and plan your next ones accordingly. I found that when planning your OKR, it is best to focus on the immediate actions you have to make. Make them a routine.
4. Taking my time
OKR is not magic, nor is it a simple switch. You can’t suddenly will productivity into existence. To make it work, you need some time. Internal changes don’t happen willy-nilly, you have to work on adopting them. It is harder to learn to do something the right way, but it will save you an enormous amount of time in the long run.
Making habits is fun. Just be sure not to take them too seriously.