This section is a quick tour of Agile Results. It is a succinct summary to help you accelerate your personal productivity strategy.
Review basic concepts and the key patterns for implementing Agile Results:
- The Rule of 3
- The Sweet Spot for Results – the interaction of time, energy, and technique
- Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection – the key to great Weekly Outcomes
- Hot Spots
- Core principles, values, and practices
Goal and Scope
This guide helps you design an effective personal results system by focusing on
- Energy Management
- Time Management
- Planning and Prioritization
- Task Management
- Communication Management
The following figure shows the Agile Results system:
Hot Spots is your heat map for results. It can be categorized by life, work, and personal. It’s a quick view of what’s on your radar for each of the categories. You then use a weekly results pattern—Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection—to help you identify, prioritize and produce results each week for each of the categories. Your information systems (Action, Reference, and Schedule) support you in achieving the results you have determined for those categories.
The “Sweet Spot” for Effective Results
The key to effective results is time + energy + technique:
As seen in the figure above, the most effective results are obtained from the intersection of time, energy and technique. So, to achieve effective results, you need to be investing the right amount of time, working at the right time (opportunity window) with the right energy, and using relevant techniques. If any of these is missing, you might achieve results but they surely won’t be as effective.
The Rule of 3
Think in threes to get results:
- 3 results for the day
- 3 results for the week
- 3 results for the month
- 3 results for the year
Think in terms of outcomes rather than activities. Simply choose your outcomes by asking yourself, “What do I want to accomplish?”
Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection
This is the core pattern for great weekly results.
- Each Monday, identify the three most important outcomes for the week.
- Focus on and allow these outcomes to guide your activities each day.
- Each day, make a short list of outcomes, mindful of your weekly outcomes.
- Name your list using today’s date (e.g., 2009-08-15).
- First list your three MUST items. Next, list your SHOULDs and COULDs.
Evaluate what you got done, or didn’t, and why.
- Identify three things that are working well.
- Identify three things that are not working well.
- Carry these lessons forward to your next Monday Vision, and reassess progress on the following Friday.
Hot Spots provide a heat map of what’s important in your life. They could be opportunities, or they could be pain points. Either way, the time, energy, and focus you invest in your Hot Spots will be reflected in the success of your projects, work streams, and activities. Knowing your Hot Spots at a glance empowers you to accomplish better results. At a high level, think in terms of life, work, and personal but don’t be limited by these categories. Use Hot Spots to frame what you want to accomplish.
|Life Hot Spots||
|Work Hot Spots||
|Personal Hot Spots||
The three sets of Hot Spots are summarized as follows:
- Life Frame. The Life Frame is a set of Hot Spots for life. They are a set of categories that tend to be important for continuous success. You can think of them as a portfolio of results.
- Work Hot Spots. If you don’t work for a living … congratulations, you can skip this part. Otherwise, focus on these areas to get crisp at work.
- Personal Hot Spots. These are your personal projects, activities, and other things you spend time on outside of work.
- 80/20 Action. Rather than spend 80 percent stuck in analysis and only 20 percent doing, it’s about shifting to spend 80 percent of your time in action.
- Change Your Approach. Tune and adjust as you go. If it’s not working, let it go.
- Continuous Learning. As you change, and as things change around you, use what you learn to improve your results.
- Deliver Incremental Value. Find a way to flow value. Chunking up your results helps you build momentum. It helps you build credibility with yourself and others. Rather than wait for a big bang at the end, you can flow value.
- Less Is More. Bite off what you can chew and reduce work that’s in flight.
- Factor Action from Reference. You should keep your action items separate from reference. This helps reduce the signal to noise ration.
- Set Boundaries. Set boundaries in terms of time or energy. Consider boundaries for the following Hot Spots: mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, and fun. The key is to have a minimum in some categories and a maximum in others.
- Fix Time, Flex Scope. Treat time as a first-class citizen. First set time boundaries. Next, bite off what you can chew within those boundaries.
- Rhythm of Results. Focus on daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly results.
- Version Your Results. You can improve your results on each pass. Version 3 will be better than version 2 will be better than version 1. This helps you fight perfectionism and produce incremental results.
- Action Over Analysis Paralysis. Taking action is the best recipe for analysis paralysis. Rather than over-engineer or try to figure out everything up front, start taking action. Your results will inform your thinking, and you can change your course as needed.
- Approach Over Results. You can’t control your results. You can, however, control your attitude, actions, and response. Use your results as a gauge and for feedback.
- Energy Over Time. Focus on keeping your energy strong. You’ll get more done in one power hour than throwing lots of hours at a problem when you just don’t have the energy. In addition to eating right, sleeping right, and working out, the key to energy is following your passion and living your values.
- Focus Over Quantity. It’s not about doing more. It’s about focusing on the right things. Focus is your force multiplier.
- Good Enough Over Perfection. Don’t let perfectionism get in the way. It’s better to produce something that you can improve or iterate on, than to continuously block yourself while striving for perfection.
- Growth Mindset Over Fixed Mindset. A growth mindset means that you can learn and respond. A fixed mindset means that you think something was born that way and won’t change. By adopting a growth mindset, you help avoid learned helplessness. You also pay more attention to your situation and to feedback, leading you to be more flexible in your approach. This flexibility is your key to results. It’s how you will improve over time.
- Outcomes Over Activities. Spending more time, doing more things, or checking items off your lists aren’t good measures of effectiveness. Results are the best measure. By focusing on your results instead of your activities, you can place value on where you spend your time.
- Strengths Over Weaknesses. Spend more time in your strengths and less in your weaknesses. Rather than spend all your energy improving your weaknesses, spend your energy maximizing your strengths. You’ll get more payback. If you do work on your weaknesses, then focus on reducing your key liabilities.
- System Over Ad Hoc. Having a system for results is a powerful thing. It gives you a firm foundation. You can experiment more. When you get off track, you have something to fall back on or to turn to when you need it. By having a system for the basics, you can move yourself up the stack and automatically invest yourself in higher level matters. Most importantly, you free your mind—that’s the beauty of having a trusted process to fall back on.
- Value Up Over Backlog Burndown. Rather than just work through your backlog, think in terms of creating value. This can be value for yourself, other people, or your employer. This is a value-up strategy. By thinking in terms of value up, you get in the habit of asking, “What’s the next best thing to do?”
- The Rule of 3. The Rule of 3 will help you stay focused on the vital few things that matter. Identify your three key outcomes: each day, each week, each month, and each year. This helps you see the forest from the trees. The three outcomes for the year are bigger than the three outcomes for the month, which are bigger than the three outcomes for the week, which are bigger than the three 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 three items you wanted 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.
- Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection. Decide what you want to accomplish for the week. Make progress each day. At the end of the week, reflect on your results.
- Scannable Outcomes. Think of this as what’s on your radar. 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 action. Keep your outcomes scannable at a glance. Organize outcomes by your work, persona, and life Hot Spots. For example, create a list of outcomes for your life frame (body, career, emotions, financial, fun, mind, relationships).
- Daily Outcomes. Each day is a new chance for results. Use daily tickler lists for action items. Create a new list each day. Each day, ask yourself what are three things you want to accomplish? (The Rule of 3). Always start your list with your three most important outcomes for the day. The key to an effective Daily Outcomes list is that you keep your three outcomes for the day at the top, while listing the rest of your to-dos below that.
- Weekly Outcomes. Create a new list each week. Each week is a new chance for results. Always start with your three most important outcomes for the week (The Rule of 3).
- Strong Week. Each week focus on spending more time on activities that make you strong and less time on activities that make you weak. Do the same with people. Spend more time with people that make you strong and less time with people that make you weak. 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.
- Timebox Your Day. Set boundaries for how much time you spend on things. If you keep time a constant, such as ending your day at a certain time, it helps you figure out where to optimize your day and prioritize. To start, you can carve up your day into big buckets: administration, work time, think time, and people time.
- Triage. Triage incoming action items to either do it, queue it, schedule it, or delegate it. “Do it” if it’s the next best thing for you to do, or now is the most opportunistic time, or if it will cost you more pain, time or effort to do it later. “Queue it” (i.e., add it to your queue) if it’s something you need to get done, but now is not the right time. “Schedule it” if you need a block of time to get the work done. “Delegate it” if it’s something that should be done by somebody else.
- Monthly Improvement Sprint. Pick one thing to improve for the month. Each month, pick something new. This gives you a chance to cycle through 12 things over the year. You can always repeat a sprint. The idea is that 30 days is enough time to experiment with your results throughout the month. You might not see progress after the first couple weeks while you’re learning. A month is a good chunk of time to check your progress.
- Growth Mindset. This is simply a decision. You decide that you’ll learn and grow. If you get knocked down, you’ll get up again. You decide that no problem is personal, pervasive or permanent. Life’s not static. Neither are your results.
- Action Lists. Track your actions with tickler lists. Consider the following action lists: Daily Outcomes, Weekly Outcomes, Queues, and Scripts.
- Reference Collections. Some information is not actionable—this is reference information. It might be helpful information, and good to know, but if it’s not actionable, then it’s reference. You can store your reference information as tickler lists or notes. Here are some example reference lists you might keep: Ideas, Notes, Weekly Results, Monthly Results, Yearly Results.