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People love to make New Year’s resolutions, but they aren’t so good at keeping them. Statistics suggest that as many as 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are broken by the second week of February.

There’s a lot of reasons resolutions go wrong, but one of the biggest obstacles is that our resolutions require us to actively make changes when we’re used to running on autopilot. We’re used to eating that afternoon snack, splurging on that cup of coffee, or sitting on the couch when we get home. Our habits are ingrained and our minds are programmed to do what they’ve always done, good or bad.

The secret, then, to keeping a resolution is to make it easy. The less you have to actively do, the more likely you are to succeed. This may not be super helpful when it comes to typical resolutions like eating more healthfully, exercising more often, or saving more cash, but it can work in your favor when it comes to getting organized, specifically with your audit and exam findings.

With a little upfront work, 2018 can be the year you get your institution’s audit and exam findings organized. Just follow these three tips:

  1. Centralize your findings data.

    Is your findings management a pastiche of spreadsheets, documents and emails? Are people across your institution using their own individual approach to findings management? Tracking all these pieces is time consuming, not to mention unreliable. If just one person fails to update the document or if they make different versions of the spreadsheet to keep on their computer, then it can create a mess. Enter the data once and use it everywhere. It’s not just more accurate, it’s easier and more efficient. One and done!

  2. Allocate tasks.

    Unless someone really cares about a problem, it won’t get fixed. The best way to make someone care is to assign that problem to them. Don’t just mention it in a meeting where it might be easily brushed off or forgotten. Communicate it in writing and keep it with your centralized data. The heavy lifting will be off your plate, freeing you up to work on big picture items.

  3. Automate task management.

    You know when I’m most likely to remember that something needs to be done? It’s when I have a few quiet minutes to think. These come to me at the most inconvenient times, like driving to work or in the shower, when there is no easy way to take action, then I forget about it.

Yet I never forget a meeting. That’s because I set reminders. Apply that concept to findings management with automation. Find a method that makes it easy to assign, track, and remind task owners what needs to be done and when. It should also make it easy for task owners to log their work. It’s hard to find the time to check in with each team member and remember what they are supposed to be doing. It’s much easier to find a few minutes to check a centralized, automated task management system to see if you and your team are on track. And it should give you the reminders to make sure you do it instead of forcing you to override your personal autopilot and remember.

Once implemented, these tips will make life simpler and easier, which gives you a real shot at achieving your get-organized resolution. There’ll be no more hunting down answers, no more wondering what got done, and no pressure to remember what needs to be done next. It’ll all be in one place with proactive reminders of what step is next.

If only all resolutions could be that simple. Which reminds me, if you have advice for how to actually stop working during vacation and focus on family and relaxation, please send me your tips. My wife thanks you.

Happy New Year!

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