Starting a new quarter with the right mindset and strategy is crucial to staying productive and achieving your goals. Professionals in customer-facing functions like Sales have a built-in reset to their work patterns as metrics are reset and new OKRs are doled out. But taking a fresh view of how your time is spent can benefit leaders in every function. You don’t need a complicated system to kick off a good quarterly reset. After observing hundreds of highly effective leaders in tech companies over my career, here are the common factors that I’ve seen every great leader do to improve their productivity at the start of their quarters:
Step 1: Set Your Top 4-6 Priorities for the Quarter
Begin each quarter by identifying YOUR top priorities and setting clear, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals. This will help you stay focused on the tasks that matter most. To do this, consider:
- Selecting 4-6 key priorities for the quarter
- Writing them down in an editable format (whiteboard, notebook, or document)
- Visualizing success and adding critical details like due dates
- Reviewing your previous quarter's performance and seeking input from colleagues
If you use OKRs or other goal-setting processes at work, you can use these as inputs to the priorities, but remember these must be YOUR priorities. If you can’t commit to moving other work to make these happen, they will not resonate with you.To use the analogy of a journey, these priorities are a list of places/stops that you want to take along the way. Make these bold and stretchy goals for yourself. You should be inspired by this list.
Step 2: Eliminate Unproductive Meetings and Habits
The next step is to remove unnecessary meetings and unproductive habits from your schedule. This will free up valuable time to concentrate on your priorities and increase productivity. To accomplish this:
- Assess your calendar for meetings that can be eliminated, shortened, or replaced with asynchronous communication
- Question your attendance at recurring meetings and consider delegating or requesting summaries (Xembly can help!)
- Revisit your priority list for motivation to let go of outdated meetings and habits
In the journey analogy, this is the part where you are packing for the journey. It’s time to put away the winter boots and other gear that you no longer need for the next quarter.
Step 3: Schedule Dedicated Time Blocks for New Priorities
Finally, proactively block out dedicated time in your schedule to focus on your new priorities. This will ensure you have sufficient time for essential tasks. To effectively manage your time:
- Establish a predictable schedule for deep work (e.g., Tuesday and Thursday mornings)
- Limit yourself to 1-2 priorities per week to avoid context-switching
- Allocate specific time blocks for each priority and set reminders (calendar assistants like Xembly can help make this easier)
- Commit to your schedule and make these blocks non-negotiable
By following these three key steps – setting SMART priorities, eliminating unproductive meetings and habits, and proactively scheduling time for new priorities – you can start each quarter on the right foot and significantly enhance your productivity. If it sounds deceptively simple… it is. The hard part is listing your priorities and having the self-discipline and willpower to make time for those above everything else. Let me know how it goes! Drop me a line at peter AT meetxembly.com.