It's back to school time. To help students get the edge, Getting Results the Agile Way is available for free on the Kindle for a limited time:
Grab it today, so you don't miss out.
If you're a student, you can use Agile Results as your unfair advantage.
It will put some of the best science on your side, and help you master your time management and productivity skills. It's more than a system. It's a playbook full of proven practices for personal effectiveness.
It's the book I wish somebody gave me long ago.
Back to School is a Great Time to Renew and Retool
Back to school time is a great time to do a reset and own your future.
That’s really what Getting Results the Agile Way is all about – owning your future. It helps you be the author of your life and write your story forward. By focusing on meaningful results, taking action, and creating continuous learning loops, you set yourself up for success.
It’s a playbook you can use for school, work, and life to help you make the most of what you've got, and enjoy the journey and the destination.
Times are tough. The world changes under our feet. You need a system to get rapid results and to embrace change.
You can actually use change as a way to transform any situation into opportunities, if you know how.
Maybe the most important thing you learn from Agile Results is how to flow incremental value … to yourself and others.
Flexibility Will Be Your Competitive Advantage
Darwin taught us long ago that it’s not the smartest or the fastest that survive … it’s the most adaptable who thrive.
The problem is that by default, we’re creatures of habit, and we aren’t very good at change, unless we know the habits and practices that can help us think, feel, and take action more effectively.
It Works for Artists, Too
Even if you consider yourself more of an “artist” than a productivity type, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Agile Results has helped many artists experience what it’s like to be a “productive artist.” In fact, a key focus in Agile Results is leveraging your energy and creativity for breakthrough results. One of the big ideas is actually adding more Creative Hours to your week so that you can leap frog ahead in today’s ultra-competitive world.
You’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of, when you use the ideas from Agile Results to enhance your focus, play to your strengths, and sharpen your ability to complete things in record time.
What Makes Agile Results Different?
There are a lot of time management and productivity systems out there. That’s a good thing, because it means you don’t have to start from scratch.
But there’s a challenge.
The challenge is, how do you integrate all of the best principles, patterns, and practices for productivity and time management into a simple system that works for you?
Agile Results is a simple system for meaningful results that integrates the world’s best techniques for productivity and time management. Here are some of the key distinctions that make Agile Results different, but complimentary and compatible with other systems:
- Outcomes over Activities. Outcomes provide a lens for focus. Outcomes are the results you want to accomplish. Just doing more activities, checking off items from a task list, and throwing more time and energy at problems won’t necessarily produce the results you want. By starting with outcomes, you define what good will look like and you give yourself a compelling path to work towards. Working on the right things to produce the right results for your current situation is a recipe for success.
- Time as a First-Class Citizen. In Agile Results, time is a first-class citizen. Windows of opportunity are important. It’s about doing “good enough” for now, and versioning your results. Time changes what’s important. What was important last month or last week might not be what’s important now. That’s the agile part—be responsive to what’s important now. This also includes using timeboxes effectively. For example, rather than try to figure out how long something might take, start by figuring out how much time you want to invest in it. Identify up front at what point do diminishing returns become unacceptable. This will help you cut your losses and figure out how to optimize your time.
- Fresh Start. If you fall off the horse, you can get back on. You get a fresh start each day, each week, each month, each year. What you take on is just as important as what you let go or “slough off.” You don’t want to be a beast of burden where one more straw breaks your back. It’s about thinking in terms of delivering value over simply working through your backlog or crossing off a laundry list of to-dos. It’s about asking and answering what’s your next best thing to do.
- Test Your Results. Have a bias for action. Rather than do a bunch of analysis and commit to a big plan up front, start taking action and testing you results. Use feedback to improve your plans. Testing your results is a way to find the risks and surprises earlier versus later. A simple way to remember this is “Do it, review it, and improve it.” In addition, you’ll find that action creates inspiration. A lot of people wait for their moment of inspiration before they start, but what they don’t realize is that simply by starting, the inspiration can follow. It’s like going to see a movie and then enjoying it more than you expected.
- Fix Time, Flex Scope. By fixing time, you set yourself up for success. The main thing is to set a fixed time for eating, sleeping, and working out. You can also fix time within work. For example, you can decide that work is an eight hour day within which you set timeboxes to produce results: an hour for administration, four hours for execution, two hours for think time, and a minimum of an hour on communication and relationships. At a higher level, you might fix time to be a 40-hour or 50-hour work week. Within that time frame, you will bite off the work you can do. What you won’t do is flex time. You won’t throw more hours at the problem each day. You’ll gradually learn to bite off what you can accomplish and manage your plate more effectively.
- Boundaries. Boundaries are simply minimums and maximums. Setting boundaries is a key to success. You’ll produce more effective results by spending the right time and energy on the right things. You can set boundaries with time; for example, tell yourself, “I’ll spend no more than an hour on that.” You can set boundaries in terms of energy; for example, tell yourself, “I’ll stop when I start to feel tired.” Most people trip up by not setting boundaries. They’ll work on something until they crash. They throw all their time in one area at the expense of other areas. Setting boundaries is how you can add balance to your life. You can spread your time and energy across the important Hot Spots.
- Tests for Success. Your tests for success answer the question, “What will good look like?” Simply by figuring out the three outcomes you want for the day, the week, the month, and the year, you identify your tests for success. You have an idea of what you want to accomplish and what good will look like. Knowing your tests for success helps you prioritize.
- Approach over Results. How you accomplish your results is more important than the results themselves in the long run. Your approach is your foundation. It’s what you fall back on when you don’t know the way forward. Your approach should be sustainable. You should also be able to improve your approach over time. Your approach should be consistent with your values. Your approach should play to your strengths and limit your weaknesses.
- The Rhythm of Results. Iterate on your results. Version your results over time. The rhythm of results is your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly results. This is about flowing value incrementally. Think of it as a set of trains that come and go from the station. If you miss a train, you can catch the next one. At the same time, you want to catch certain trains because of your time frames and windows of opportunity.
- Time, Energy, and Technique. You don’t want to just throw more time at problems. You also don’t want to burn yourself out by just throwing your energy into things. Your results are a combination of time, energy, and technique. By using more effective techniques, you can amplify your results. This is how you use your time and energy more effectively.
- Strengths over Weaknesses. Rather than spend all your time improving your weaknesses, spend your time playing to your strengths. While it’s important to reduce your liabilities, you’ll go further, have more passion, and produce more effective results by spending more time in your strengths. In areas that you are weak, one of your best moves is to partner or team up with others that supplement you. If you can’t outsource your weaknesses, you can find more effective mentors or pair up with other people who help you amplify your results.
- System over Ad Hoc. When you have routines for how you produce results, you can learn and improve. It’s one thing to produce results randomly, while it’s another to have a system you can count on. When you have a system, you can tune and prune what works for you.
- Continuous Learning. The world’s not static. Skills aren’t static. You’re not static. Learning is a first-class citizen. It’s about taking action, getting the feedback, and changing your approach. It’s about letting go of what’s not working, and testing new ways to achieve your results. It’s about personalizing your approach and continuously refining it to meet your needs. Your weekly reflection will help you learn more about yourself in terms of your strengths, your weaknesses, your passions, your bottlenecks, and ultimately your results. While improving your results, you’ll improve the way you produce results. Improving the way you produce results, will improve your enjoyment and fulfillment no matter what you work on.
In other words, you don’t have to throw out your existing systems. Instead, you can enhance your existing time management system, or get more out of it, by using some or all of the insights and actions from Agile Results.
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