This is my 100th post and it is also the first anniversary of the WOWNDADI blog. It is only the 12th of December, but I’ve already been scooped on the first end of year review post for 2007, in my RSS feeds that honour goes to Chris Garrett for his great post on the 80/20 rule.
It seems like a good moment to look back and reflect, before the festivities start and the memories of last year fade away. I’m sharing my notes with the hope that they will provide you with food for thought. I could happily do a full post on any of them.
1. Set good goals.
Write them down and review them on a regular (weekly?) basis. If they evolve over the year, that is great, but if you forget them, that is bad. Very bad. When goals are written down and reflected on, they have a strange habit of being achieved. Nothing mystical about it, it’s just a productivity fact. Make yourself accountable to someone you trust, by sharing your goals with them. You’ll deepen a friendship, or at least get some feedback. At the very least be accountable to yourself, as a gentle but firm task master.
2. Quit stuff. Seriously, quit stuff.
Looking back through the year’s diary/iCal/Outlook and through the mental memory banks provides a good list of things to drop. Deciding what needs to not happen has value too – planned abandonment. Next year will have the same number of days as this. Dissipating less is the only way to make sure that there are more days to invest in achieving those goals (See 1).
3. Live purposefully and be productive.
Live purposefully, every minute. Efficiency is not the same as productivity. It is good to be efficient, but being productive actually starts with doing the right things, not doing the wrong things faster. Be clear on what you are doing and why you are doing it at each transition during the day. What is your intentional outcome?
Once you know the outcome, focus on ACTIONS that will get you there. Set time limits on activities: I’ll stop at 3:30pm and move on to the next thing. Stick to them. Be an outcome-orientated task executor. Focus on outputs and actions that produce things and create external change, rather than on inputs and re-arranging thoughts (see 2). It is great to think about things, but if you want to make a difference in the world, make stuff and make stuff happen. You’ll be happier and you won’t procrastinate.
4. Play lots.
Having fun is a sensible and agreeable outcome (see 3). Plan fun things to do, and make sure that they happen. Plan time out. Join a new community, get involved and do some random new things. Be social off-line as well as on-line. Yes, do work, but do play too.
5. Build up and support your network of friends.
In ways that you can, that they will appreciate, help your friends. Build your close personal network by investing in those people. You’ll most likely find that they support you in return, and that helping them does you a world of emotional good. We have so many ways to stay in touch, from Facebook to IM. Use the richest communications medium whenever you can, free air: meet face to face. Failing that, fire up a webcam or pick up the phone. Turn on some social ambiance, using a private blog, twitter, flickr, Facebook, SMS or whatever works for your network.
6. Commit to learning something new.
Pick a new skill or area of knowledge and learn it. Ideally, pick a topic outside of what earns you money today. What would you love to learn? Buy a good book. It will cost less than a CD and will increase your earning potential, change your outlook and broaden your horizons. Bonus: collect the books together on a bookshelf. People will see them and think you are smart. No, really, they will! Apparently that is a great dating tip. 1 in 4 people in the US didn’t read a book last year (AP Poll), so your bit to make sure your country doesn’t become illiterate. Because I am still a geek at heart, I’ll let reading on a Kindle count (even if Phillipe Starck entertainingly panned it at LeWeb 07). If you really don’t want to read a book, then enrol in a course. You’ll meet people and join a new community (See 4). What got you here won’t get you there, wherever there is. Keep asking questions.
Review your week and your work, regularly. What is getting results and what isn’t? Figure out a way to kill activity that isn’t productive, in order to make room for the things that are. This will create time to learn and build your skills (see 6). Avid followers of David Alan’s Getting Things Done site the weekly review as one of the best aspects of the system. What do you need to get better at? (see 5)
8. Be focussed!
How focussed are you? Trying to do too much means that nothing gets done. The combination of focus and planned abandonment inherently creates efficiency. I know that points 1,2 and 3 already covered this, but I figure on the forth mention it might penetrate my thick skull. With all of the possibilities that are offered up today, you can’t them all. This is really hard, because we know we could do it all, if only we had enough time. We haven’t. Get over it. Some things work better than others (see 7). Attention will likely be the scarcest commodity in the next decade. Start hoarding now.
9. Be committed!
Be committed to the things that are important. Do not waver or slow. Capture and understand your commitments, then execute on them. It you commit to something, write/type it down. Keep these together in one place where you can see them all quickly, and then tuck them away. Be careful not to take on things that you shouldn’t or can’t. Renegotiate your commitments if you need to (see 9).
10. Be thinking and understanding.
In a knowledge economy this will be the key skill and time will be the key resource. Even if you can’t spell them yet, I couldn’t, epistemology and ontology will be your friends in the future. More on them in the new year.
Live the year like it is both your first and your last, but also appreciate the past and plan for your future! What did you learn this year, and what will you carry forward to next? Share your ideas…