[photo by Balakov, flickr artist](http://www.flickr.com/photos/balakov/)
photo by Balakov, flickr artist

i heard an interesting quote from a co-worker just recently. he said, “what gets measured gets done.” what’s more he said, “i learned that from a time management course that i showed up late for.” and he’s right! as they also say—”when the cat’s away, the mice will play.”

it’s nice to think that you can trust people to do what you expect them to do, but it’s hard for people to stay motivated when they know they’re not being watched. if a professor or teacher says they’re not going to grade homework, chances are that students won’t do it (or at least do it well).

it would be great if you could count on people without leaning on them, wouldn’t it? now, let me ask you this question: how many people thought this post was about other people? now how many people thought this post was directed at YOU?

are you measuring yourself? what steps are you taking on a daily basis to make sure that you yourself are doing what you need to be doing?

in project management, we have metrics. you sometimes hear that word thrown about all willy-nilly to the point where people tend not to pay attention. people complain about keeping track of their time on a task-by-task basis, and PMs complain about having to keep their schedules up-to-date! why do all this? metrics.

if you tell someone they should be doing a particular thing — coding time, entering data, tracking work completed — they might do it… for a while. most people will start off doing what you ask just because you asked. then, life happens. now what was once important to them suddenly becomes optional. but if you keep track of and measure it, people tend to give it a higher priority.

that’s why we have schedules and set deadlines, otherwise we’d have a difficult time getting anything done. we need metrics. we need something that we can measure our efforts up to. am i on track? am i ahead of schedule? am i lagging behind the curve? this is the fundamental failure of many “to do” lists. people tend to put the task down, but not when it needs to be completed, or how many hours it will take to finish the job.

can’t get a handle on your inbox? set up a time every day (or maybe multiple times a day) to make sure that you answer every e-mail. even if you don’t have the answer, delegate! and get that e-mail out of your inbox. can’t find the time to get work done between all your meetings? set up a 2-3 hour long meeting with yourself to sit down and focus on what’s important.

sprinkle in some project management and time management into your own life. every day, make sure that you’re measuring up to what you need to do. make a plan and stick to it!