Personal productivity is one of my passions. As one of my little experiments while I'm out of the office, I put together The Zen of Results E-Book. I turned a slide deck into a PDF to see if it makes it easier to share. It's brief (17 pages) and quick to flip through. More importantly though, it captures the heart of how you can improve your productivity, in a principle and pattern based way. It's a lightweight approach and it's easy to tailor for your situation.
The Approach in a Nutshell
Here's the keys to the approach:
- Scannable outcomes to guide your activities and tasks.
- Life frame to organize and balance the important hot spots in your life.
- Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection to guide your week.
- Daily Outcomes to guide your day.
Thoughts on Productivity
I'm not a fan of productivity for productivity's sake. Instead, I care that I'm working on the right things, I care that the time I spend working, is as efficient and effective as possible. I also care that I can carve out time in a way to achieve work/life balance. I care more about outcomes than activities and I work backwards from the end in mind. To put it another way, I put more emphasis on learning, improving, and enjoying, than simply going through the motions or putting in my time. I'll also add -- I like my downtime and my free time 😉
What The Zen of Results is Based On
I'd like to say it's based on Getting Things Done, but somehow we just never crossed-paths. Instead, it's born from a combination of the school of hard knocks, masters at Microsoft, software development practices, and my mentoring experience. when I first joined Microsoft, I was overwhelmed. I was on a sink or swim team with lots of trials by fire. I wanted to swim. Long story short, I learned from anyone and everyone around me. In fact, I started seeking out people in the company and comparing email practices, storing information, and how to become more effective. I learned a lot.
Software Engineering Meets Project Management Meets Productivity
When I joined patterns & practices some years ago, a few things happened. I had to figure out project management in the context of a competitive environment where the ultimate judge is results. Not just the results of what you produce, but how you produce results. How many dead bodies and what sort of wake do you leave behind?
Meanwhile, Agile was becoming increasingly pervasive and I had the benefit of working with folks like Ward Cunningham and Peter Provost. They taught me lot about the principles and concepts behind Agile. Somewhere along the way, I had figured out how to catalog, manage, and prioritize an endless stream of potential activity from various sources: my teams, my manager, my inbox, my head.
I learned that improving an hour, improved a day, improved a week, improved a month. I learned the value of sharing lessons learned. I learned the value of biting off what you could chew. I learned that it's better to finish what's on your plate and go up for seconds versus overflow your plate up front. I weaved in my timeboxing lessons from performance and my compartmentalizing lessons from security.
I used my lessons from my manager to focus on strengths over weaknesses to keep a high level of energy. Bottom line, the sum is more than the parts, but it's an integration of software development, project management and personal productivity with an emphasis on meaningful work for a meaningful life ... by design (that's my inner engineer talking).