Here at Microsoft, all full time employees have to sign up to personal commitments for their job. At the end of each financial year these are reviewed in a Performance Review on which all sorts of things depend including bonuses and promotion prospects. Some companies have similar schemes called MBOs (Management By Objectives), Personal Goals or simply Job Descriptions which outline what a specific job entails.
I've just completed writing up my personal commitments, and a mighty scary list it is too. The trouble with commitments is that they're easy to make and much harder to fulfil. So I was wondering how I could use Outlook to help me stay on top of my commitments and continually remind me of the things I should be doing to succeed in my job. Here's a tip I shared with some colleagues last week. I've had so much positive feedback that I thought I'd also share it here:
By now, most people should have their FY07 Personal Commitments in place. So here’s a quick Outlook tip to help you achieve them and allocate time to the things that are most important to you and your job.
TIP: Use the improved colour categories feature in Outlook 2007 to create a category for each item in your Commitment Execution Plan against which you will dedicate time. For instance if, like me, you have committed to spending more time with customer/partners, create a category called something like ‘Externally Facing’. Here’s how:
1. To On the toolbar, click Categorize .
2. Click All Categories.
3. In the Name list, click the name of a colour category, and then click Rename.
4. In the Name list, type the new name for the colour category, e.g. Externally Facing.
Now when you book time in your calendar for an activity like this, just categorise it as ‘Externally facing’ and Outlook will colour code it accordingly. Do this for all activities that relate directly to the major focus areas in your Personal Commitments and you can instantly see how you are spending your time to achieve them.
What’s more when it comes to your Annual Performance Review you can simply create a new calendar view that instantly shows you all the activities you did which related to each commitment. Cut and paste it into your review form and the job’s done! Bingo!
The real beauty of this approach is that now, every time I categorise something in Outlook, I see my personal commitments staring back at me. It's a good way to remind myself what I really should be doing so I stay focussed and increase my chances of a good Performance Review.