One area I’ve struggled with consistently as far back as I can remember has been finishing things. I’ve always been good at having good ideas, and–just as often–not carrying them out. IOW, really good at the R part of R&D, not so great at the D. This is something I’ve resolved to change about myself, and tomorrow (Friday) marks the end of four weeks of a focus on finishing things. Some stuff was important, a lot of it wasn’t. At work, I tried to finish the highest-value tasks, or things I’d promised others, and at home, I tried to finish the most important things, and the things that brought me happiness or satisifaction.
- Finished two books, on my way to finishing a third
- Finished 3 different long-term projects that I’d had on my back burner for months
- Started and finished some high-value policy guidance, from development through socialization
- A bunch of housekeeping on my Linode backend (more than six months overdue!)
- My SO and I restructured our finances to better plan for the future
- Got numerous things with external gating factors back on track
Anyway, this hasn’t been a month where I’ve worked harder. It’s been a month where I’ve worked smarter. I’ve never been an adherent of any particular productivity school, but I do borrow from several (GTD, kanban). Here are a couple of things I did:
- Didn’t even try to start new things if I could avoid it; I simply added them and added them to my backlog
- Eliminated some low-value stuff entirely (why do low-value stuff at all?)
- Carved out calendar time in my day for next steps, immediately after completing pre-requisites. (This ensures adequate time, and a regular delivery cadence.)
- I’ve always been an inbox zero kind of guy. That didn’t change, and it remained a producitivity (and happiness) multiplier.
It’s not all sunshine and daisies, however. Balancing the reactive, “operational” side of my job with the planful, inside-your-own-head development stuff that provides the real, long-term organizational value remains a challenge.
Here’s a good talk by Adam Savage–of Mythbusters fame–that really resonated with me. I feel like I’m good at (and regularly do) all the stuff, except for maybe the last three minutes. That I saw this video while working on finishing stuff was purely coincidental.