Feedback versus Noise

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The power of feedback

How do you perceive feedback? The internal feedback that you give yourself, or the external feedback that you get?

Is your response negative or positive? Do you sometimes get frustrated? What are you comparing to when you give yourself feedback – a pre-determined plan?

Over time, and with no small amount of effort on my part, feedback has become my primary source of direction for my pursuit to improve my performance continuously. Here I would like to discuss how, as I believe it can help you also. We will explore:

  • What are you measuring against – do you have a plan, goal or set of goals?
  • How are you managing the key elements of your life (time, energy, focus and tools) to serve your goals?
  • Where are you getting feedback from and what do you do with it?

What are you measuring against?

Do you have a plan? Was that a yes or no?

Let me be more specific – pick one project that you are working on. Now answer the following questions:

  1. Why is this project important to you? Do you have a specific set of expectations, desired outcomes that you expect from this project, and are they related to your big picture goals?
  2. For your project, assuming the answer to the first question is yes, do you have a plan with respect to what you wish to achieve over time, broken down into week by week targets?
  3. If yes, do you have a means of tracking your progress?
  4. If yes, do you then seek to understand any shortcomings and address them. This is what feedback is for, and it can only truly exist when you have a plan to execute meaningful projects over a given time.

Now you have given yourself the opportunity to use the power of feedback to inform you of how you are performing and where you have an opportunity to improve – whether this is a personal or professional project. Now your internal feedback is relative to a set of expectations that are clear in your mind. If you wish to seek external feedback, or if it is offered, then filter in the context of you plans and ambitions and take the positives from it, those elements that can direct your efforts to be better.

BTW, if you did not answer yes to the questions above, then you can read this post.

How are you managing your time, energy, focus and tools?

Once you have a plan in place, the level of performance will in large part be determined by how well you manage your time, energy, focus and tools. Too often we say that we don’t have enough time, or our energy level are low, but what does this really mean. I recently set out to find this out, as I had similar thoughts myself. The first step was to do an audit and see where I can spending my time, expending my energy , directing my focus and how my tool set was serving me. To do all of this at once is not possible, so to date I have completed the “time audit” and I will share with you what I have learned. We will look at how I conducted, how I analysed the results and what I will do differently as a result.

Conducting a time audit is relatively simple – over a three-day period, I recorded, every half hour, where I was spending my time, from the moment I got up, until the moment I went to bed. I created a simple spreadsheet and printed four copies out – one for a trial day to get used to the process and iron out any anomalies (Monday). I then logged the subsequent three days in detail. Here is a sample of my log:

Time Log

Time Log

Once I had the information, I then reviewed where my time was being allocated – in the contexts of what my main goals were. I noticed a couple of trends:

  1. Even though I am an early riser, the time between when I rise and when I get started on my writing is too long – this is something which has crept into my schedule since my recent travels and I am seeking to address – the facts highlighted that the time is much more significant than I was admitting to myself.
  2. I travel a great deal in the car and am utilising this time poorly – I need to plan this a little more.
  3. Evening time is unstructured – this is fine to a degree, but also has some undesirable consequences.

Given the information that I have gathered, I have made a decision to continue with this for a 2 week period, including weekends, understand the data and then make some tweaks to my schedule and how I use my time.

Try it for yourself – pick on of your limited resources and conduct an audit, analyse the data and see how you can improve your use of time, your energy level or focus, or the tools you use and how you use them. Let me know how you get on.

Note: Jason Womack has written a great book called, Your Best Just Got Better, for those a little more interested in this topic.

Using Feedback

Now that we have a frameworks within which to filter and aplly feedback, plus some additional tools to capture come additional feedback, it is critical to use this feedback to make our best better, to quote Jason Womack that we use this feedback. The best way that I know is by applying the relevant feedback and tracking the results honestly. Try it – you will be pleasently surprised.