J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

The Zen of Results

The Zen of Results

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Are you ahead of the game, or falling behind?  Are you getting the results you want?  As a follow on to The Zen of Zero Mail, this post is about task management and personal productivity.  It's simple by design, but proven effective over time.

Slides
Based on the feedback, I decided to use slides again. Here's a short deck that steps you through and highlights the Zen of results:

Note: In the slides I use Outlook 2007, but I've also used the same approach with simple text files and directories.

Keys to Results
You already know this stuff, but here's the main ideas:

  • Frame out key categories for results (life, work projects, personal projects).
  • Start with outcomes over tasks (Identify what you want to accomplish).
  • Factor actions from reference.
  • Carve out time for what's important.
  • Set Boundaries.

Back at Work
Does this approach work?  Microsoft tests me daily.  Since I use this approach at the start of my week and every day, I have a good sense of priorities.  This also helps me deal with potentially randomizing scenarios.  I can also batch my work.  There's always more to do than time in the day.  By using time-boxing and setting priorities, this helps me figure out what to eat first, what to push to the side, and what to let slide off my plate.

Lightweight By Design
Since I use this every day, it's very light-weight.  It's also a system where if I fall off the horse, it's simple to get back on.  There's no heavy start-up cost and there's no expensive overhead.   I didn't want a system that has a big learning curve or penalizes me if I fall off track.  It's really about just doing the fundamentals well.

Share Your Stories
I'm always interested to hear how people improve their effectiveness.  After all, I'm a patterns and practices kind of a guy.