Advertising
Advertising

Productivity System Overview: “Getting Results the Agile Way”

Productivity System Overview: “Getting Results the Agile Way”

    If you have read anything that I have written on Lifehack.org, you probably already know that I am a complete Getting Things Done junky. But, like any good lover of productivity pr0n, I tend to look online for the “next best thing” when it comes to productivity systems and implementations.

    Recently I listened to Scott Hanselman’s software development podcast, Hanselminutes, on his own personal productivity system. This guy is a telecommuting, programming animal, so I was intrigued to see what he had to say.

    Advertising

    Besides the normal use of GTD, Steven Covey’s 7 Habits, and the infamous Pomodoro Technique, Mr. Hanselman mentioned a book by another programmer, J.D. Meier, called Getting Results the Agile Way. This system takes some cues from the Agile software development methodology (more here at Wikipedia) and is a system based on producing results rather than activities, having boundaries and set tasks and goals you want to accomplish, and making time your best friend.

    This system seems pretty interesting and effective once you read into it. Let’s take a look at the key points of the Agile Way productivity system.

    What’s so different about this system?

    If you are a GTDer you may sometimes feel that you are bogged down in the minutiae of everyday task management, blindly checking off tasks as you finish them. If you are a 7 Habits kind of person then you may get caught up in the question, “What’s my life purpose?”.

    Advertising

    The Agile Way offers a slightly different approach . It concentrates on the outcomes of your actions rather than the activities of checking things off your list. This approach has more of a directive off the bat, whereas GTD says that you need to clear the runway level before you get to defining what you want to do with your life.

    The Agile way also is all about reflection and making sure that you are producing some sort of results in your days, weeks, months, and years. The system takes the idea that projects and tasks are always changing, and because of that it is important to make sure that your plans of action are still valid and still producing results.

    Something else that Meier’s stresses is the power of “3”, and the first he lays out is the idea of using your Time, Energy, and Technique to continuously produce results. He says that if you manage your energy effectively by living with passion regarding your work, you can use your time, energy and passion, to produce better and more quality results.

    Advertising

    The system explained

    You are probably thinking, “OK, enough with the na-na-nu-nu, energy equals results stuff. How do I use this system?”

    Meier’s has a really great “getting started” guide on the book’s site. Basically the system revolves around the power of “3”. Here are the basic steps:

    • Define 3 outcomes for your day
    • Define 3 outcomes for your week
    • Define 3 outcomes for your month
    • and define 3 outcomes for your year

    Basically, you want to identify the 3 things you want to accomplish for your day, week, month, and year and then at the end of each respective period review your results, find where you can grow and improve your technique, and plan again.

    Advertising

      The Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection pattern is a simple habit for daily and weekly results. source: http://gettingresults.com/wiki/Getting_Started_with_Agile_Results

      Another nice idea is the “Weekly Results” paradigm where you first identify your “Monday Vision”, review your “Daily Outcomes, and then follow up the week with your “Friday Reflection”. This reminds me of the GTD weekly review, but allows you to be even more active with reviewing your actions and results.

      There are a ton of extra subtleties to the system, like creating time boundaries for certain portions of your life (Meier calls them “hotspots”) like, work, family, fun, creativity, spirituality, etc. By setting minimum and maximum times for these areas of your life, you are creating some sort work/life balance.

      First impressions

      Overall, I am extremely impressed with Meier’s system. So, impressed that I couldn’t believe that I haven’t heard of it before. What I like about it most is that it gives you some sort of direction for your days, weeks, months, and years. GTD is awesome at helping you identify and organize what needs to get done, but sometimes falls short in the actual “doing” part of the process. I could totally see a hybrid approach with GTD and the Agile Way to take stock of your current workload and then define what needs done during your weeks.

      Another nice thing about the Agile Way is that it is instantly implementable. You can sit down with a pen and paper (or a spreadsheet, Evernote, OneNote, text file, etc. for you geeky types) and start to define your day and week. This allows you to start concentrating immediately and isn’t filled with the initial overhead of GTD.

      So, I highly suggest that you take a look at Getting Results the Agile Way. You can pick up the dead tree edition at Amazon or read the entire book at the book’s site.

      More by this author

      CM Smith

      A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

      Design Is Important: How To Fail At Blogging 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 6 Unexpected Ways Journaling Every Day Will Make Your Life Better Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Ways to Beat It Once and for All To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

      Trending in Productivity

      1 How to Stop Information Overload 2 7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages 3 How to Improve Your Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways 4 11 Tactics on Increasing Brain Power, Memory, and Motivation 5 How to Use More of Your Brain to Become More Productive and Happy

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on February 21, 2019

      How to Stop Information Overload

      How to Stop Information Overload

      Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

      This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

      As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

      But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

      How Serious Is Information Overload?

      The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

      This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

      When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

      We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

      No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

      Advertising

      The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

      That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

      Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

      Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

      But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

      Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

      Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

      When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

      Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

      The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

      Advertising

      You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

      How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

      So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

      1. Set Your Goals

      If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

      Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

      Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

      Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

      2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

      Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

      First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

      If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

      Advertising

      • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
      • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
      • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

      If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

      (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

      And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

      You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

      Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

      3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

      There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

      Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

      Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

      Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

      Advertising

      4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

      Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

      This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

      Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

      The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

      Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

      Summing It Up

      As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

      I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

      I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

      More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Read Next