We are all fundamentally keen to do the best work we can. With every passing year, the commitments both work and personal ( Spouse, Kids, Parents etc) increase. We never get more than 24 hours a day. So we always try to get the best out of every second we spend. Time is just something we don't get back once. During the past decade or so, I have tried several tools and ways to manage my time. Earlier in my life, just have a few reminders or a checklist was sufficient. The only thing that mattered to me was making sure I don't forget to do that stuff I had to do. This is still true, I just don't want to forget anything I have to do, my memory is not as sharp as how it was 10 years ago. The only thing I am good at is knowing where to look for the information I want. And a simple nudge to make sure I am reminded.
With smartphones, I almost spent a lot of time trying out a myriad of apps that promise you the epitome of productivity. It took me a while, to realize it was not the fault of the software but the issue was with the lack of process and habit. About 6-12 months ago, I was introduced to GTD accidentally when I was looking into a tool that is very commonly used in the emacs community. It dawned to me that, this might actually help me get my sh*t together. Since then I was trying to get my self set up to use this system. The process is quite rigid. I like two key components, first was capture everything even the most insignificant thought. The next was the reviews, review weekly, monthly to make sure I am in check. Everything was exciting, got my self setup in several formats, changed. One thing it helped me with was that I was no longer burdened with most of the thought I had regarding work, pet projects, family, etc
But I had faced a couple of problems, I usually have periods where my energy levels are pretty low. As if all my mana has drained. And I just don't feel like it. Some times this is just due to draining work, or just external factors that affect me emotionally which would result in this kind of low energy level. These are pretty much my life happens situations and every time this happens, I figuratively fall of the GTD bandwagon. The good thing about this is every time this happens I just need to do a weekly review to get back up. The problem is sometimes, the frequency of life happening is pretty high. And I would literally end up being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things that got piled up each time.
Just before I started practicing GTD, my process for planning was just writing down what I need to do for the day in a book and checking them off. This honestly worked. Except, I didn't want o to carry my book around. So I just had this at home. So I started to look at a few ways I can adopt something simpler that didn't involve me having to maintain a full list of todo with due dates etc, rather have a high-level plan and drive things daily. I still wanted to be able to capture everything that I had to do so I can process them accordingly. I stumbled across a few youtube videos during my search that spoke about how evil todo lists are and why we should stop using them. Honestly, these were just too extream and clickbait. But one of these videos had a really good point discussed how we can plan things on an outcome-driven approach. This got my attention, so I was looking for similar pitches around the matter and I came across a blog post that summarised Agile Results. This drove me to the book Getting Agile Results by JD Meier. It was a good read. I did find some aspects of the material to be a bit daunting with the tables and stuff for planning. But then I realized that this actually makes the approach independent of tooling ( similar to GTD, although you can buy GTD specific tools in the market ).
The key takeaways for me were:
- Rule of 3
- Daily wins
- Monday vision, Friday Reflection
With this in hand, I decided to experiment with the approach. So far, I have found being outcome-driven help me to actually build momentum because some projects will never complete in a day or two, but you can always have a daily outcome for each of these projects, that take you a step closer. Friday reflection is more like a weekly review. I don't do it on Friday though because my week is from Monday to Sunday.
I am going to experiment with this approach for a couple of more months before deciding dead on what works for me. But this made me realize that being outcome-focused, will actually let you cut down on this that are not essential for the final outcome. This drove me to re-asses my personal tooling I use for both personal and work. I wanted to make sure these are not blocking me rather helping me move forward.
As a closing note, you can either get your hands on a copy of the book. The author has also shared a one-page manifesto on his blog. I have the link below. Since we are mostly from an Engineering or Creative background, JD Meier's approach sounds very relevant since he's background is from managing projects at Microsoft.