Zoe Piper is an acclaimed business director, investor and advisor, and one of those individuals whose level of output prompts an impressive response. Her stable of award-winning startups have helped to reduce chemical air pollution in residential and commercial projects, plus other societal impacts.
Piper’s businesses have seen her supply paint to the Commonwealth Games and use blockchain to empower micro businesses in emerging economies. She is currently also completing a PhD – whilst balancing family-life and parenthood.
Ms Piper offered AESTOLOGYY access to her systematic framework for dominating career goals and maintaining life balance, along with her preferred apps to support this structure.
Traditional career paths have never held much appeal for me. Building a varied, dynamic and agile portfolio of engagements has always been more appealing, and I believe represents the best strategy for ensuring steady income over the long term.
Having a solid framework has always been essential for keeping everything on track.
The plans I put in place (from the conceptual down to the specific) include:
- My word for the year, along with key themes and the habits that will support them
- Key goals to achieve for the year (which I adjust in response to new opportunities and changing conditions)
- A rolling plan for key focus areas and activities for each month of the year
- A master list of tasks to be completed (across all projects and engagements)
I have founded/co-founded multiple businesses (some in manufacturing and tech), serve on the AICD Division Council, am part-way through a PhD, and regularly take time to mentor others both formally and informally (I also have a 13 month old with another one on the way!).
Review and reflection are also just as important as having a solid framework, so I regularly take time to document what captured my focus each month. Here, I include achievements, and also the struggles, failures and challenges – to understand where my time and attention went. I then use this to build up an annual summary by aggregating the key points from each month.
This practice of holding myself accountable for where my time goes helps keep me on track.
It also provides an interesting record of the journey that has taken place over the years, allowing me to reflect back and remember both what’s been achieved, but also what I’ve had to overcome.
Two years ago I started publishing my annual review publicly, which provides extra motivation to ensure I’m making progress.
Pen and paper just wouldn’t cut it for managing everything. Thankfully, there are many apps I’ve discovered that help keep everything well-structured and organised.
- Evernote – I’m constantly coming across interesting articles and thinking of new business ideas I may want to pursue in future (there were 48 on the list at last count). Evernote is where I get all these ideas out of my head. It is also where I set out my annual and monthly plans and where I capture my reflections.
- Click-up – tracking everything that needs to be done is essential to stay on top of it all. I’ve tried many platforms in this space (Monday, Infinity, Trello, Jira, Asana, Avaza, Any.do, and probably just as many more that I’ve forgotten) but Click-up is the best I’ve come across. Their free tier does everything I need and more, including tagging, colour coding, setting automations to move tasks around, and viewing tasks by project or aggregated together. This is the first thing I look at each day.
- Loop Habit Tracker – it’s no good setting habits at the start of the year and just assuming that you will follow through on implementing them. I set the top 5 habits I’m focused on in Loop Habit Tracker and then tick off which ones I do each day. At the end of each quarter I review how I’m going. If the habit just isn’t sticking, I reassess whether it’s really important for moving me towards my goals. If yes, I look at what else I need to put in place to ensure it happens. If not, I archive it.
- LastPass – I have accounts on hundreds of different platforms, there’s no way I could keep track of that many different passwords myself. LastPass is perfect for keeping track of all my login details (and helping me to remember which platforms I already have an account on!). It helps free up valuable mental space that can be better used elsewhere.