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Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Drive Your Week with Skill

Drive Your Week with Skill

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You can drive your week or your week drives you.   One of the ways I add sanity to the chaos of my week is the Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection pattern.   It’s a simple way to setup a rhythm of results for the week.

Monday Vision – Three Wins for the Week
On Sundays or Mondays, I identify three wins I want for the week.   For example:

  1. Alignment on approach X across the four teams.
  2. A baseline information architecture for “fast-pathing” cloud architecture.
  3. A usable prototype for cloud strategy “on a page.”

Power Hours for Exponential Results
Some of the work requires “heavy lifting” in terms of extreme concentration and focus.   To do that well, I make sure that I allocate some of my “Power Hours” to these problems.   This will help me take cover more ground in a better, faster, and simpler way.  For me, my best hours tend to be 8am, 10am, 2pm, and 4pm.   I’ll use these to move the big rocks each day, or at least chip away at the stone.

When I make the mistake of working on a tough problem during a non-power hour, I end up wasting time, unless it’s exploration and creative work.   If I need to make significant progress, my single best move is to use my Power Hours.   That’s how I do ten hours of work, within a single hour.   It’s me at my best.  It’s firing on all cylinders.  I can do mental sprints during those hours, and deal with the worst setbacks, and still make the most ground.

Stories to Light Up Meaningful Work
I use simple, “one-liner” stories to make my goals or tasks more meaningful.  I try to connect my goals back to my values.   For example, I value customer impact, so instead of “call a customer”, I “win a raving fan.”   I also value adventure, so instead of just driving my project, I’m “leading an epic adventure.”   It takes practice to frame work in terms of more meaningful achievements, but the key thing to remember is …

You are always the most important meaning-maker in your life.

The story is in the change.   You are the actor.   That’s the empowering part.   Whether it’s achieving a private victory, or making great things happen in your world of work, it’s about inspiring yourself with skill.  You do that by connecting what you do to your values, and making a story out of it.   This also helps when you have to tell and sell the value of what you do, and for yourself when you need to recap what’s going well.

Daily Outcomes – Three Wins for the Day
Each day, one of the best things you can do is write down three wins you want to achieve.   It’s not activities.  It’s outcomes.   Focus on the end-in-mind, and you can use these three outcomes to help prioritize and focus throughout your day.  This is the best way that I turn laundry lists and end-less “To-Do” lists into more focused results.   It helps me deal with information overload and task-overwhelm.   It’s a very simple way to step back and see the forest for the trees, at least for the day.  

When you combine the idea of three wins for your day with three wins for your week, you can easily zoom in and out to keep perspective.   When you need to focus on what’s in front of you, zoom into your day and focus on your immediate win.  When you need a little more perspective, step back, and look at the wins you want for your day.   When you need even more of a balcony view, simply step back and look at the three wins for your week.

Friday Reflection – Three Things Going Well, Three Things to Improve
On Friday, simply carve out an appointment with yourself, and ask the tough questions.   Ask the questions that will help you bring out your best.   Ask the questions that will help you continuously improve and take your game to the next level.   To do this, simply ask:

  1. What are three things going well?
  2. What are three things to improve?

They are simple, but revealing questions.   This gives you a chance to celebrate your wins.   It gives you a chance to formally acknowledge what’s going well.    Maybe things aren’t going the way you want them, but congratulations for making the effort and taking the steps, and doing the tough stuff.   Catch yourself doing something right.   This is how you build momentum and carry the good forward.

When you ask yourself what are three things to improve, use this as a chance to really identify some actionable things you can do to make things better.   You can think of big changes, but I think little ones work just fine, if you actually do them.   The beauty is, you can use all next week to try out your little changes.  Each day is a new chance at bat.   Repetition and practice are the best ways to improve.

If you follow this recipe for results, each week you should notice that you improve your focus, you achieve more wins, and you get better results.   Another way to put it is, this recipe will help you spend the right time, on the right things, the right way, with the right energy.  

And that is how you flourish, while flowing value, and achieving meaningful results.

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