The Twelve Week Year

I’ve read a great little book recently called “The 12 Week Year.” It’s very short, about 50 pages of large print. I am going to condense it even more in this column. The book is 50 pages because no one would buy it if it was any shorter. But truth be told, it is a fairly simple concept with a logical premise.

What gets done at the end of the year

Perhaps you set yearly goals for yourself. At our firm, we always make a push to settle cases at the end of the year. Adjusters have quotas and yearly goals which they need to meet. Insurance companies want to get cases off the books by the end of the year. In general, a lot gets done between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “The 12 Week Year” takes this observation and extrapolates it to the full calendar year.

Taking a vacation

When I take a vacation, I work very hard to get everything done so I can relax away from the office. A planned vacation serves as a deadline for me to complete a lot of work. Like the end of the year, my time before taking a vacation is extremely productive. I get a lot done with the impending deadline of my holiday.

Replicating these results

The premise of “The 12 Week Year” is to break the year up into 12 week segments. For the mathematically challenged, a 12 week block is three months. Just as a lot of work gets done at the end of the year and before a vacation, divide your year into 12 week blocks and treat each block as if it were the end of the year or the beginning of a vacation. The idea is to recreate the efficiency you have at other times of the year.

Twelve week blocks as a deadline

The book explains that using 12 week blocks creates deadlines for yourself. It makes an artificial deadline every 12 weeks to complete tasks. We all work better when faced with a deadline. A 12 week segment creates a deadline, if we treat it as a serious deadline.

Prioritize your work

Not only does a 12 week year help you become more efficient, it also helps getting the important work done. Let’s face it, we all procrastinate, even on important matters. A 12 week deadline helps focus your priorities because you want to get your important projects done before the end of the 12 week period. Just like before the end of the year or vacation, you will naturally want to complete important projects. A deadline or a goal helps you prioritize your work and eliminate distractions.

Additional incentives

The book recommends treating yourself at the end of each cycle for motivation. Make it a day off or some other reward for reaching the end of the 12 week block. At the end of the year, or on vacation, you have a natural period of time to recharge. After a 12 week segment, you should likewise reward yourself. Don’t just start the next 12 weeks all over again or you will lose the benefit that the 12 week year advocates.

I am fascinated by the concept behind “The 12 Week Year” and I am anxious to give it a shot. Let me know if you decide to try it and the results.