Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Take Time to Rest

I have found that after I have completed a goal that I am exhausted and in need of some much deserved rest. The issue now becomes how do I know when I have rested sufficiently, and not effect the rhythm that I have found.  Sometimes it is a week sometimes two.  It really depends but I have found that I can not trust my body to tell me because it will be glutinous.

I know that resting is required after preforming long sprints, but resting too little will make the next sprint take longer and be of lower quality.  However, if I take too much time off I will be slow and it willl take me some time to get back in to the flow of things.  So finding this sweet spot had been a goal of mine for sometime.

The formula that I have found really works for me is for every month that is dedicated to a given sprint (a chunk of work on a project that is complete and requires no additional attention after completion) a week should be taken for recovery.  All the normal everyday things will still be done to maintain, but nothing new.

This formula is specific to me, each individual is different and the recovery times will very.  Based on a variety of factor, including weight, diet, sleep habits, exercise regimen, and type of work that is being preformed.

When starting in to the new loop keep in mind that you should only be making one change.  Changing too many things at once will make the process chaotic.  Keep it limited to one new change, until you have achieved a system for that new element.

I hope this helps make you more effective.  To your success.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where Do You Spend Your Time?

I find that that things fall into one of 4 categories. We tend to be doing the important and urgent things. If you don't make time for the Important and not urgent things they become issues. One of the most common important/not urgent subject that is neglected is health.

There will always be something in Quadrant I if we don't allocate time to doing the things in Quadrant II. I think that if we have this time set aside it would allow us to grow more strongly as a company because we are mentally clear with out all the "things we need to do."

Getting Things Done (GTD)

Going through the "stuff" you need to do in a day can be very time consuming. Having to touch the same item more than once before it has an actionable step can be very time consuming. Using the "Getting Things Done" method of processing does cut down on the time wasted touching an item more than once. This method come from the book "Getting things done" by David Allen; get the book on amazon.
So many of us have many projects and because of this it can be very difficult creating a flow of information and knowing what you should be doing at any given moment. This has been modified slightly for more specific description of projects.


In the first step we need to collect all the things in the area we are addressing. Put everything in one pile, everything except furniture (art is not furniture). This includes pieces of paper that you have a note on, printed emails, printed anything for that matter. Have a stack of paper to write down big items that can not be moved. Each sheet should have only one item. I recommend separating electronic life from the tangible world for this section. They have become very interconnected in our lives so I know this will be difficult for some. After everything has been gathered in a pile. Go through it one piece at a time, and don't start creating multiple piles.


The next step will be processing. All the items that have been collected in the previous step will be processed here.


After you have processed an item, you will need to organize it in one of these ways.
Trash - There is no value to keeping information that is useless. Keeping trash only adds to the clutter in our lives. Throw away anything that is not actionable or has no reference value.
Reference - A lot of the stuff that you collect will go into the reference pile. This includes paid bills, URL bookmarks, old tax returns, important papers, emails, project notes, journals, textbooks, etc.
Someday - This is where you put items that you are not sure you ever want to do, but maybe someday you'll think about them again.
Project Planning - When you have an item that needs to be broken down into its constituent actionable steps, you are in the "Project Planning" stage.
Waiting - When you have delegated a task to someone else, it goes into your "waiting" pile. Action can not proceed until someone else finishes their part.
Calendar - Any task that must be completed by or on a certain date can be given a due-date and time.
2 Minute List - When an item is going to take more than 2 minutes it goes to this list. This is the list that will be done next as time allows.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Schedule Less

Many people I know are in a constant struggle to get more time trying to fit more and more into a day.  Scheduling everything down to the minute, and leaving no room for deviation.  This leads to higher stress levels, especially if you have a life that has variable that are not part of a system you can control, most of us do.  I think that scheduling is great and it does make all of us more efficient.  But I don't like to pack my day so tight that if there is an accident or some other time, that I'm chasing that  perfect line the rest of the day.

Life has flux, that is one constant thing about life.  If you have it planned out perfectly, then something will be thrown in to force you to change your approach.  Life is a living breathing thing, it is not static.

A more effective way of grouping your tasks is to use a tiered method.  I recommend having a loose list of things that need to be done, and move them over to your daily list as you find your self with more time.  If you don't find yourself with additional time, you should take a look at how to close your open loops.

The approach that I use in my personal and professional life is 3 tiered.  First, I have a calendar of the hard lines that are required of me that day.  These include meetings, appointments, anything that is scheduled.  The scheduled part of my day make up no more than 40% of my hours awake.  Second, I track my soft lines in a list of the tasks that need to be completed in the near future, these are set as upcoming.  The upcoming threshold I use is a task that needs to be completed within 30 days.  Lastly, I have a list of float items that I want to get to.  I typically leave these items to fill the gaps, when I am early to an appointment, or taking a break in my Pomodoro sprint. These float items are things such as reading an article, or catching up on email or reading the book I'm working on.  

Here are the 3 tiers 
  • Hard lines in Calendar
  • Soft lines in Upcoming Task List
  • Float in want To-Do list.
I hope this helps make you more effective.  To your success.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Be More Effective with Time

In the world that we live in we are constantly fighting to keep our attention focused on the task at hand.  I refer to these distractions in life as "Shinnies".  They are just one more thing that will getting you doing something but it will keep you from actually being productive.

I'm not saying that the shinnies aren't urgent, and incredibly enticing and sometimes even important.  They can be all of those things.  What I am saying is that those shinnies are taking you away from the plan that you are currently following.  I don't suggest that you make a hard plan and never make adjustments.  I am merely suggesting that if you do make a change, change the execution of the plan not the goal.  You have chosen to pursue the goal for a reason, why would you stop chasing that one goal.

A philosopher put it another way.
"The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither" (Confucius)


Another great way to stay on task is to use the proper tools.  Every jobs is easier with the proper tools.  The two most effective tools that I use on a daily basis to keep me focused are Asana and Pomodoro Daisuki.  I use the chrome extensions for both of these tools so they are open to me as soon as I start my day.

Asana is a task management tool, that allows you to manage your personal and business life in one place and add collaborators, like a spouse.  This allows you and your team to stay in sync with changes and tasks that need to be done.

Pomodoro Daisuki is a time management technique that allows you to become more effective with your time.  It uses 25 minute sprints with 5 minute breaks.  The human focus is getting shorter due to the technology lifestyle that we have become accustom to.  Odds are you are probably reading this blog from your tablet, phone or other technology device.

One last piece of software that I use to keep me focused is Pocket.  Have you ever decided that you were going to take on your email (email is going to be a whole other blog post), only to find yourself off on a tangent within 15 minutes.  Reading something that you need or want to learn about or just something of interest.  Pocket is very helpful in that arena because it will allow you to save the article that you are reading, and start reading it again at a later time.  The greatest part about it is that it will sync with your various mobile devices and save them locally so that you can access the article when you are offline.  When you don't have access to the internet is typically when you will have the time to read those articles that you didn't have time for previously.   Pocket allows you to take advantage of that time.

I hope this has helped you.  Please leave your comments, and suggestions.

To your success