“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” — Jack Dixon
I created Agile Results to be a simple life system to help you embrace change, achieve better productivity and live your potential.
After all, the person who can change the fastest, creates more options to succeed in any situation.
At the heart of any system is a set of practices. Practices are the actual application of an idea or method. It’s where the rubber of the ideas, theories, and beliefs meets the concrete of the road.
It’s the practices that make or break a system.
The foundation of Agile Results really comes down to the combination of the 10 values, the 10 principles, and the 12 core practices.
12 Core Practices of Agile Results at a Glance
Here are the twelve core practices and supporting practices of Agile Results:
- The Rule of 3
- Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection
- 3 Wins for the Week
- 3 Wins for Today
- Outcomes at a Glance (Scannable Outcomes)
- Strong Week
- 30 Day Sprints (Monthly Improvement Sprints)
- Growth Mindset
- Action Lists
- Reference Collections
With the balcony view, now let’s walk through each one to get the main idea…
1. The Rule of 3
This is the heart of agility. The Rule of 3 helps you chunk things up and slice things down to size.
The Rule of 3 will help you stay focused on the vital few things that matter.
Identify your 3 key outcomes each day, each week, each month, and each year. This helps you see the forest from the trees.
The 3 outcomes for the year are bigger than the 3 outcomes for the month which are bigger than the three outcomes for the week which are bigger than the 3 outcomes for your day.
This also helps you manage scope. It’s all too easy to bite off more than you can chew.
Instead, first nail the 3 items you want to accomplish, and then bite off more.
Think of it as a buffet of results and you can keep going back—just don’t overflow your plate on each trip.
To practice The Rule of 3, think in terms of 3 wins or outcomes or results. For example:
- My 3 Wins for today are…
- My 3 Wins for my week are…
- My 3 Wins for my month are…
- My 3 Wins for my quarter are…
- My 3 Wins for my year are…
You can also practice The Rule of 3 when you watch a movie or read a book: Ask yourself what are 3 things I enjoyed or what are 3 take aways, or what are 3 things I can use?
And, you can practice The Rule of 3 in meetings. You can ask yourself before the meeting, what are the 3 things we want to achieve? Or, after the meeting, you can ask yourself, what are 3 take aways?
And, you can practice The Rule of 3 in training. Simply ask yourself, what are 3 things I can use, and actually start using them.
2. Monday Vision, Daily Wins (Outcomes), Friday Reflection
When you think of Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection, just remember that it’s a highly effective way to manage your week better. And, it reminds you of key practices that help you better focus your time, energy, and attention.
It helps you get intentional about your results and to see your priorities and outcomes at a glance.
It’s a value-driven approach and a vision-based way to create better results in work and life.
Here are some highlights about the practice of Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection:
- With Monday Vision, you start your week with vision. This is a way to explore and create a meaningful week that matters. This is a way to work backwards from the end-in-mind and check that what you think is worth doing for the week, will feel worth it when you are done. On Monday, you imagine that it’s Friday end of day. You imagine your 3 achievements that you are proud of for the week. You see yourself and note how you feel with your 3 meaningful achievements. If something doesn’t feel right, you can change now. You want to create both clarity for what you want to achieve for the week. And, you want to hold up your future achievements or wins, in front of you, to inspire you and pull you forward So the idea is to really connect with your personal values. If you like learning, then make your tasks before you about learning. If you like customer impact, then don’t call back a customer – win a raving fan.
- With Daily Wins, each day you will also start your day with vision. Imagine if this was the end of the day, what are 3 wins that you want under your belt. If you get stuck, a simple way is to picture little scenes of victory in your mind, for morning, noon, and night. Again, the idea is to see the future results or experiences that you want to create, and use those to set your focus, help you prioritize, and pull you forward throughout your day. And if you get mired in the muck, you can use your 3 Wins to help you get reoriented and back on track.
- Friday Reflection is a chance to hit pause and reflect on how your week went. It’s a chance to really dig deep and grow your personal awareness by looking back on your week and exploring 3 things that went well, and 3 things to improve.
The beauty of identifying 3 Wins at the week level and 3 Wins at the day level is you can zoom in and zoom out as needed, so you can keep your perspective and maintain your agility.
To practice Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection, use each day as a prompt:
- On Mondays – ask yourself, “What are 3 Wins I want to achieve this week?
- Each day, ask yourself, “What are 3 Wins I want to achieve today?”
- On Friday, create an appointment on your calendar to check in with yourself, and ask, “What are 3 things going well, and what are 3 things to improve?”
Then go ahead and take those learnings and act on them in your next week.
3. 3 Wins for the Week (Weekly Wins / Weekly Outcomes)
Imagine on a Monday, before diving into your week, you create a simple list of 3 Wins for the Week. Whenever you get lost, overwhelmed, or buried in your week, you can use your 3 Wins for the Week to pull yourself back up.
This is the practice of writing down 3 Wins for the Week. And, it’s how you apply The Rule of 3 to the week.
It’s a simple way to create clarity and create compelling outcomes.
And it helps you better prioritize your time, energy, and attention toward meaningful results.
You weeks can get crazy and chaotic. You can lose your bearings. But your 3 Wins for the Week will help pull you back. Your 3 Wins for the Week will help you see the forest for the trees.
Or, you might have a week, that’s slow or as boring could be, or your tired of the same old rut.
Use your week as a chance to reimagine and explore what’s possible. Write a new story of your life this week, by creating exciting and wild 3 Wins for the Week.
This is how you become the author of your life and write your story forward.
To practice 3 Wins for the Week:
- On Monday, ask yourself, “What are 3 Wins I want to achieve this week?”
- Challenge yourself to really focus on making progress on your bigger rocks and important things in your life. Invest your time and energy in meaningful things.
- Practice saying your 3 Wins for the Week without looking them up on your list. The more you can keep them top of mind, the more they will help you refocus on what matters most.
A key to making your 3 Wins for the Week more meaningful, is to really think in terms of the changes you want to achieve for this week.
Maybe it’s break through to a new level in your exercise routine, maybe it’s start a new hobby, maybe it’s complete a draft of presentation.
But if you focus your 3 Wins for the Week on changes you want to achieve, then you will help pave a path for your personal progress and empowerment.
4. 3 Wins for Today (Daily Wins / Daily Outcomes)
This is the practice of writing down the 3 Wins for Today you want to achieve each day. And, it’s how you apply The Rule of 3 to each day.
The Rule of Three is your friend in chunking your week and days down to size into simple stories of results that you want to make happen.
The key is to start your week with a vision of 3 Wins for the Week, then start each day with a vision of 3 Wins for the day, and then cap your week with a review.
Simply start your day, with The Rule of 3, by asking yourself, “What are 3 Wins I want to achieve today?”
Each day is a fresh start. Each day is a new chance for results. Create a new list each day.
The key to an effective Daily Wins list is to list your 3 Wins at the top. You can add any priorities, reminders, action items, calendar reminders, etc. below your list of 3 Wins at the top.
To practice Daily Wins:
- Create a list of your 3 Wins for day. I call mine Today, or 3 Wins for Today. In the past, in other systems, I’ve also just named it today’s date. Note that you can create your list on a sheet of paper or email or your tool of choice. I find it incredibly convenient to send myself simple emails named Today, with a list of 3 Wins at the top, reminders for my day, and any priorities that I want to note. I create whitespace between my 3 Wins at the top, and then everything else. This way I always have a simple view of what I want to achieve for the day.
- Use your list throughout the day to reorient yourself and stay grounded. Things will come up. Fire drills and disruptions happen. Your 3 Wins are my your for success for the day. They also help save me from myself if I follow too many rabbits down the hole.
5. Outcomes at a Glance (Scannable Outcomes)
This is a way to keep the big picture, the big picture. You can also think of this as what’s on your radar or what’s the balcony view across the board of all your activities and efforts.
At a glance, you should be able to see what you want to accomplish and what you’re spending your time and energy on. Outcomes guide your actions.
Create a list of outcomes that you can easily scan —Scannable Outcomes. With a glance, you should know what’s hot and where to focus and what you want to achieve.
To really create a big picture view of your world and what you want to accomplish, you can organize your outcomes by either 1 list with 3 sections, or just 3 lists:
- Work Hot Spots – the projects, roles, events, and activities of your work life.
- Personal Hot Spots- the projects, roles, events, and activities of your personal life.
- Life Hot Spots: the meta-level categories that make up the big picture of your life… Mind, Body, Emotions, Career, Finance, Relationships, and Fun (feel free to modify, add, delete… this is just a starter set).
It all starts by listing the outcomes you want to achieve for your work, outcomes you want to achieve for your personal life, and then outcomes you want to achieve at the meta-level—the buckets or categories or domains in your life where investing in them helps you across the full spectrum of work and life.
If you can keep what you want to accomplish, front and center, then you are ahead of the game.
The clarity you create here will help compound your actions and your energy toward a meaningful direction.
To practice Scannable Outcomes for Work and Life:
- Create a list of your outcomes and goals for your Work Hot Spots.
- Create a list of your outcomes and goals for your Life Hot Spots.
- Create a list of your outcomes for your Life Hot Spots (mind, body, emotions, career, finance, relationships and fun).
The more you practice creating clarity, the better you will get at regaining your focus, creating better energy, and achieving better results.
In a nutshell, you will amplify your ability to dream, design, and deliver meaningful results in work and life.
Timeboxing is a way to chunk up time and get results. If you continuously miss windows of opportunity or spend all of your time in one area of your life at the expense of others, timeboxing can be one of your best tools.
A timebox is simply a limited set of time to accomplish a result. Think of it as how much work can you get done in a given block of time.
If you keep time a constant, for example, by ending your day at a certain time, it helps you figure out where to optimize your day and prioritize. I use it to organize my day, drive project results, make incremental progress on problems and spend time on the big buckets in my life.
Using time as a constraint and forcing function for results is extremely effective:
- Avoid missing windows of opportunity. Time’s a limited resource. If you don’t treat it this way, you end up blowing project schedules, missing windows of opportunity, or doing too little, too late.
- Spread your results across key areas. If you spend all of your time in one area of your life at the expense of another, you can use time boxes to allocate time for important areas (such as career, mind, body, social, spiritual … etc.)
- Prioritize more effectively. If you know you only have three months for that project, you can be smarter about what you bite off that you can actually finish.
- Chunk up a problem. Use time boxes to slice a problem down to size. This works well if you have a daunting problem that seems too big to take on. Timeboxes are also a more realistic way to deal with problems that spread over time. If you can’t solve a problem in a single session, then figure out the right-size time chunks to throw at the problem. How do you eat an Elephant? One Timebox at at time 😉
- Deliver incremental results. You can use a time box to show progressive results. For example, rather than all-or-nothing thinking, use time boxing to make incremental progress on a problem.
- Increase focus. Giving yourself dedicated time boxes to focus on a problem help you avoid task switching, and help you stay engaged on the problem. If you find yourself wandering too much, then chunk your timebox down even further. See
- Increase motivation. Make a game of it. For example, how many sit ups can you do in 60 seconds? Between splitting problems down to size, staying engaged on the problem and making a game of it, time boxing is a sure-fire way to build momentum and results.
- Improve your effectiveness and efficiency. use time boxing to tune your results. Using a time box can help you identify areas to improve as well as refine your approach. If you’re not getting enough done within your Timebox, experiment with different approaches, while you tune your effectiveness and efficiency.
- Version your results. It can be very liberating if you think in terms of revisiting a problem over a period of time, versus trying to get it all right up front.
- Defeat analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis can be the worst enemy of results. Use a time box to switch gears from think mode to execution.
To practice timeboxing:
- To start, you can carve up your day into big buckets: administration, work time, think time, and people time. Set a limit on how much administration time you want to spend for the day. Carve out a Timebox for you to get some think time back in to do your ideas some justice and to create some new breakthroughs. Grow your network and invest in your relationships by carving out a block of time to meet with someone new. Or repurpose a lunch each week. I like the practice of each week meeting with somebody new, and reconnecting with somebody I know.
- Practice 20-Minute Sprints (Timeboxing). Pick an activity that you regularly do that you can optimize. For example, maybe it’s reading. Maybe it’s email. Maybe it’s writing articles or blog posts. Try a 20-Minute Sprint or Timebox, so see how much you can improve your performance. I exponentially improved my ability to ship blog posts by reducing my Timebox to 20-Minute Sprints. I no longer worried, when would I be done with my blog post. Instead, I worried about how much value I can pack into an article if I only have 20-Minutes to share an idea. Ready…set… go!
- Timebox your work week. Maybe you can’t squeeze your work into a 4-hour work week, but can you cap it at 40? If you are somebody who regularly puts in 50, 60, 70 hours+, try “limiting” yourself to 40 hours. And then pay ruthless attention to where you waste time, where you create incredible value, what you high value activities actually are, and what sorts of things you really could do without in your week. You can also try playing with your pace to see if you can achieve more in less time. By establishing a Timebox, now you have at least a better way to experiment with techniques and strategies to improve your speed. And you might find you improve your energy and that itself might completely change how much more you can do, in way less time. You can also practice doing “less”, with the idea that “less is more.” Focus on your quality, and trade the idea of getting things done for creating more impact, or more meaningful results. Not all results are created equal – use Timeboxing as a way to learn what’s worth it, what the high value activities are, and what value levers you can pull to accelerate and amplify your results.
7. Strong Week
Imagine if you could feel strong, all week long. Imagine spending more time in your strengths, and less time in your weaknesses.
Imagine investing in activities that you feel like you could do all day, that make you come alive, and renew your energy.
That’s the idea of a Strong Week.
Each week focus on spending more time on activities that make you strong and less time on activities that make you weak.
Your challenge will be to build deep self-awareness around the activities that make you strong, and the activities that drain you.
Additionally, your challenge will also be to continuously try to squeeze the activities that make you weak, that you can’t get rid of, into a much smaller chunk of your day, and your week.
To practice Strong Week:
- Fight to make sure you don’t spend more than 20% of your day in your weaknesses. One way to do so, is to spend way more of your time in your deep strengths. For your weaknesses that you can’t get rid of, you can hack away at them. For example, push activities that make you weak to the first part of your day. By doing your worst things first, you create a glide path for the rest of the day. Use Timeboxing to set limits on the things that wear you down. For example, if the stuff that makes you weak is taking more than 20% of your day, then find a way to keep it within that 20% boundary. This might mean limiting the time or quantity. Sometimes you just can’t get rid of the things that make you weak; in that case, balance it with more things that energize you and make you strong.
- Fight to make sure you don’t spend more than 20% of your week in your weaknesses. Push the toughest things that drain you to the start of the week to create a glide path.
- Evaluate the people you spend time with. Spend more time with people that make you strong and less time with people that make you weak.
Be careful not to confuse the things that make you weak with challenges that will actually make you stronger.
Grow yourself stronger over time.
Hack your To-Dos and tasks down to size through Triage. In the knowledge work arena, it’s quite common to have some sort of team triage approach to sort through all the incoming tasks. You can use Triage to prioritize and order things, and to get rid of things that aren’t worth it.
Really, the art of Triage is learning how to handle disruptions and distractions.
I think three things really help when it comes to doing Triage better: prioritizing, acting on items, and batching.
I like to Triage incoming items and prioritize based on how important the items are:
I find that using language helps me think better about priorities. While having a list of P0s, P1,s and P2s (Priority 0, Priority 1, Priority 2, etc.) is helpful, for me, it gets real when I know something is a MUST vs. a SHOULD or COULD.
I also look at what specifically should I do with a given task for now:
- Do it
- Queue it
- Schedule it
- Delegate it
- Delete it
If you really think about it, there are only so many things you can do with your tasks. It’s kind of like the simple idea of CRUD for records in a database, where you can Create, Read, Update, or Delete records.
Batching helps. Batching is when you group a bunch of related activities together, such as when you are processing a bunch of emails. When you are working on micro-tasks, you can gain massive efficiencies if you come up with better macro-moves as part of your batching.
Let’s take a quick look at each action as part of our Triage:
- Do it. Do it now, if now is the time: it’s the next best thing for you to do; now is the most opportunistic time; or it will cost you more pain, time or effort to do it later.
- Queue it. Queue it (add it to your queue) if it’s something you need to get done, but now is not the right time.
- Schedule it. Schedule it if you need a block of time to get the work done.
- Delegate it. Delegate it if it’s something that should be done by somebody else. I think of this as getting the ball out of your court, or better yet, getting the ball into the right court.
- Delete it. Delete it if it’s something just not worth doing
To practice Triage:
- Practice Triage with your email. See how fast you can make it through your inbox. One quick tip is if you have something you really should answer fast, then Timebox it. Spend no more than 5-minutes. Give a quick answer for now, with the most important info, and you can even say, you may follow up with more thoughts later. If you have something that, you need to really work on, but not yet, then name that task and create a list outside of your email, so you can quickly deal with it outside of your inbox and avoid “paper shuffling”. If you have something that will take some time, or you really need to schedule it, see if there’s a short-cut for your mail system to make appointments fast. For example, in the desktop version of Outlook, you can drag an email onto your calendar, and then an appointment window pops up. Another hack I do is to batch a bunch of items that I need time for, into a single appointment on my calendar.
- Practice Triage with your To-Do lists. Practice quickly hacking your To-Do lists into things worth doing, and in an order that makes sense. A quick tip is that a To-Do list is only as effective as the time you slot to actually work on your To-Do items. The best thing you can do is translate the things worth doing into time on your calendar. If you make time on your calendar, you give yourself a fighting chance to actually complete your tasks. If you don’t, you run the risk of the classic idea that plans are simply lists of things you’ll never do.
- Practice Triage with the your Bucket List or with a big list of personal projects that you never seem to make ground on. Maybe a fresh perspective from a Triage will give you a new lens and maybe even a new lease on make things happen.
9. 30 Day Sprints (Monthly Improvement Sprints)
This is my favorite way to get out of my month. Whether I need to learn a new skill, or deal with something I need to work on, or simply explore a new hobby, 30 Day Sprints, give me a good time block to hack at it.
For a 30 Day Sprint, simply pick something to work on for the month. Each month, pick something new; this gives you a chance to cycle through 12 things over the year. Or if necessary, you can always repeat a sprint. The idea is that 30 days is enough time to experiment with your results throughout the month.
Because you might not see progress in the first couple of weeks while you’re learning, a month is a good chunk of time to check your progress.
The beauty of 30 Days, or a month, is that each month is a fresh start. In fact, I actually prefer to use the month as my time block, even if I call it a 30 Day Sprint. I find it much easier to start on the first day of the month, and end on the last day of the month. I get confused if I try to remember that I’m on day 7 of my thing, but I’d March 24, or whatever. I’d rather be on day 7 of my thing on March 7. That said, I’m not a stickler about it, and I won’t let the date stop me.
I’ve also noticed over the years, that I like to pick a theme for the month, to line up with my 30 Day Sprint. For example, let’s say my 30 Day Sprint will be a daily attempt to clean up my docs, desk, devices, apps, and info management. I might give myself a theme, like “House in Order”. This will remind me of my 30 Day Sprint, and each day, do a little something to hack towards my House In Order for the month.
Sometimes, my theme, is just a theme, and it’s not line up with my 30 Day Sprint. Instead, it might be something above and beyond, but it’s something I want to remind myself or give myself meaning for the month, or practice in little ways that I get, without making it an actual 30 Day Sprint. For example, I might have a theme of Boldness for the month, where I might try to think bolder, or act bolder in meetings or in the halls, or when presenting new ideas, etc.
To practice 30 Days Sprints:
- Pick something that is really bothering your or getting in the way of your day to day enjoyment – something you’ve been struggling with—and make it a 30 Day Sprint. You don’t have to go over-board. You can simply explore that topic or pain point a little bit each day. For example, when I wanted to attempt a new sort of workout to master my bodyweight, I did a 30 Day Sprint to explore ideas. I reviewed different philosophies and systems. I tried some exercises to get a feel for how they might fit. I did a few dry runs of actual exercise routines to see how long they might take, and whether they would fit well into my schedule or my lifestyle. In another case, I was struggling with passive income, so I spent 30 days collecting stories and approaches and learning the mechanics. In another case, I wanted to dive way deeper into personal change, so I used a 30 Day Sprint to walk through several models, read several books, learned specific techniques, and created a simple framework.
- Pick something you used to really love, and find the joy in it again. Make it a 30 Day Sprint, and have fun with it. Don’t make it a chore. Make it a chance. Let each day be a way to rekindle what used to light your fire. Where there’s a spark, you can ignite a blaze, if you relearn how to fan the flames. This is a great way to create serendipity. You can’t imagine how your world will change when you show up with a light heart and better energy and with your life force flowing through your veins.
- Pick a long term skill that you know you really want to learn for your long-term success. Use a 30 Day Sprint to map out the skill. For 30 days, simply use each day to play with the skill and to learn how to think about it. As Covey would say, focus on the Mindset, the Skillset, and the Toolset, rather than just hacking at a skill. By taking the time to map out the Mindset, Skillset, and Toolset for a given skill – you will set the stage so that in the future, when you dive into that skill for real, you will be able to practice it better, and you will know how to think about it, and you will have a sense of how to make progress.
10. Growth Mindset
I’m sure you’ve heard of mindsets. Maybe you’ve heard of things like an Abundance vs. Scarcity mindset. Or, maybe you’ve heard about a Mastery vs. Performance mindset.
Well, to keep the idea of a mindset simple, think of it as embracing a fundamental belief, in a way that shapes how you look at the world.
A Growth mindset embraces the idea that you can learn and get better. Contrast that with a Fixed mindset, where you embrace the belief that you were born that way. You either have it or you don’t. You are either talented or you are not. The idea behind a Growth mindset is that you will grow better in something you practice at. Dr. Carol Dweck wrote a beautiful book filled with examples of a Growth mindset, in the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
An amazing thing happens when you adopt a different mindset. You change your world, because you change how you see the world. By changing how you see the world, you change how you show up in the world, because it changes your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The big thing to keep in mind is that you can consciously choose a new mindset. You can decide. And you can practice it. (Well, if you have a Growth mindset
Guess what? If you decide that you’ll learn and grow, you will learn and grow. And, if you get knocked down, you’ll get up again. Not only will you get up again, but you will change what’s not working, because now you are learning. In fact, by adopting a Growth mindset, you will find yourself challenging your thoughts – about what is vs. what could be?
You will also break out of Learned Helplessness, an idea that Dr. Martin Seligman made popular in his book, Learned Optimism. People learn to be helpless over time, when they think about problems as permanent, personal, or pervasive. They give up their power. To regain your power you adopt a Growth mindset. You decide. You decide that no problem is personal, pervasive or permanent. You will learn your way around it, you will grow your way forward, you will hack until you find a better way.
As Voltaire said, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”
Life is not static.
Neither are your results.
11. Action Lists
What can I say, I’m fan of lists. There’s a lot of science that says when you’re smarter when you think on paper. It helps you organize your thoughts. It helps you see what you are looking at in a more objective way.
When you turn things into lists, you take a first step towards freeing up your mind, while setting yourself up for success.
While there are a lot of kinds of lists, Action Lists, help you factor all of your actionable things, from all of your non-actionable information.
My primary Action Lists are my lists of 3 Wins for the Day, 3 Wins for the Week, and my goals / outcomes for my Hot Spot lists.
Sometimes I need to create a list of backlog items or items that I queue up for later, but I’m not working on now.
Or I might create a list of ideas that I shelve, because I start working on them, but then find that I really need to put them on the backburner, so I can focus on higher priorities.
But one of my very special types of Action List is a Script (or Recipe).
I create Scripts to effectively “script” my actions or behavior. I write down the steps for perform X. Some complex tasks get a whole lot easier when you have a set of steps to follow.
The reason why this is powerful, is that it’s really a list of actions I need to perform to achieve a particular result or outcome.
They are also helpful when it comes to repetitive tasks, that have lots of steps, or that are easy to forget.
For example, it helps to have a Script for setting up a blog.
A Script is like a How To, except it’s much leaner and meaner – it’s literally just a list of the actions to perform.
How Tos tend to have more context and more structure, wrapped around any steps, and How Tos often have a lot of conceptual info as well, making it difficult to just get to the action part.
So many How Tos are actually great breeding ground for Scripts or Recipes, if you can extract the specific action steps out of them.
To practice Action Lists:
- Create a simple system for organizing your Action Lists. See how quickly you can create, sort, and find your lists for your 3 Wins for Today, 3 Wins for the Week, and your Scannable Outcomes.
- Make a Script for a task you need to perform that you struggle with. Put it down on paper and see if you can simplify or speed up your task. See if you can find a friend that performs the same task, and compare notes. See if you can innovate in the approach to make it better, faster, or easier.
- Take action items out of your emails and create a simple list of actions, that you can prioritize and sort better than in your inbox.
12. Reference Collections
Some information is not actionable. But you need to refer to it, or it’s good know.
If it’s not actionable, then it’s reference (and maybe “conceptual”).
You can store your reference information as lists of items, or a “tickler list”, or actual notes.
Here are some example Reference Collections you might keep:
- At a Glance
- Weekly Reflection
- Monthly Reflection
- Yearly Reflection
I keep a lot of information at a glance. I create lists of people by expertise. I create lists of awesome Websites by topic. I create lists of quotes. I create lists of books. And I want it all, at a glance.
I find it helps to dump my thoughts into a Reference Collection.
I find it also helps to dump insights that I find from various articles, books, sites, movies, etc. I like to keep it separate from my Thoughts collection. Plus, I like to be able to find my way back to the original source of inspiration or insight.
I also find it helpful to create distilled lists of ideas. The more ideas I list, the more ideas I generate. By writing ideas down, I free up my mind. My mind realizes it no longer has to bug me about the idea, or bounce it around in my head, because it knows it’s in a safe place that I can easily browse through. So then it gets excited and starts to riff a bunch more ideas, faster than I can keep up. This is especially true, once I start getting ideas for articles or books.
To practice Reference Collections:
- Create a Reference Collection to collect your Thoughts. If you use email a lot, a simple way is to create a folder or label called Thoughts, and email yourself your thoughts and ah-has. If folders or labels are a hassle, then simply preface the subject line of each email with “thought – “ so that you can quickly sort or filter or search for them.
- Create a Reference Collection of inspiring quotes. There is a universe of powerful words of wisdom out there. But they don’t do you any real good until they are at your mental fingertips. Curate the quotes that make your mind sing, your heart beat, and your body tingle. While you are at it, create a very special additional list. Make it your morning primer. Create a short list of the most powerful quotes that help you jumpstart your morning, and prime your mind for greatness. The beauty is, if and when these wear out, just cycle some new quotes in. But keep the list short, so it’s just a quick way to prime your day.
- Create Reference Collections for your Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly Reflection. You will be surprise by just noting key accomplishments, thoughts, insights, and learnings for the week, will add up. You will start to see patterns in how you decide what to work on, and what you don’t. You will learn how well you prioritize, or how well you don’t. You will learn a deeper lens on what you value, what others, value, and how value can create amazing connection or incredible conflict. But mostly, your collections of your Reflections will be a source of personal insight and deep awareness that will help you take your potential and your productivity to new levels.
Well, there you have it. The 12 Practices of Agile Results. They aren’t pretty, but they are effective, and they have proven themselves over time, in an evergreen sort of way.
The beauty of the practices is that they you can get better results by practicing any of the practices. But the real symphony is when you combine the practices because the practices are better together.
Keep in mind, it’s about progress, not perfection, and the more you practice, the better you will get… if you have a Growth mindset, and lean in on your learnings, and leverage your insights.
You know you are on the road of mastering modern productivity when you are creating clarity of meaningful outcomes, driving from value, spending time on the right things, with the right energy, the right way, investing in your strengths, playing with your potential, and learning and adapting as the world changes around you.