By August 3, 2010 17 Comments Read More →

Day 3 – Daily Outcomes – Use Three Stories to Drive Your Day

Day 3 - Daily Outcomes

“Make each day your masterpiece.” — John Wooden

Your Outcome: Take control of your day by connecting your activities to what you value and what inspires you.  Turn even the most mundane activities into meaningful opportunities.

Welcome to day 3 of 30 Days of Getting Results.  In day 2, we looked at using three stories to drive your week.  Today we take a look at using three stories to drive your day.  I call this practice Daily Outcomes and it’s from my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.

Daily Outcomes is a way to use three stories to drive your day.  Before you start your day, simply identify the three results or outcomes you want to accomplish for the day, and work backwards from that.  An outcome can be anything from, “I had a great lunch,” to “I enjoyed my day,” to “I kicked arse in my presentation.”  What’s important is that you’re jumping ahead to the end result.  I like to think of this practice as taking a few mindful minutes to avoid going on a mindless march.

3 Steps for Great Daily Outcomes
Here are three steps you can use to create your three compelling stories to drive your day:

  • Step 1. Identify your three key outcomes.  You choose what your three key results are. For example, maybe your three most important outcomes are: “I mowed the lawn, I completed my project plan, and I had a great lunch.”  If you’re feeling really off, maybe your three outcomes are, “I enjoyed my breakfast, I enjoyed my lunch, and I enjoyed my dinner.”
  • Step 2. Turn your three outcomes into one-liner stories.  Stories help you add an emotional connection to your tasks.  You can even be the hero (“Today, I conquered the mess in the laundry room.”)
  • Step 3. Connect your stories to your values. You can connect your stories to things you value.  For example, maybe you don’t like to rake the leaves, but you like to do your part “to help.”  Maybe you don’t like doing spreadsheets, but you like “to improve.”  Maybe you like “adventure.”  Maybe you like “achievement.”  To build on the previous example, “Today I conquered the laundry room with skill” which is a contrast to slogging my way through to victory.  One of the things I like to do each day is “master my craft.”  Get creative.  Find the play in your day.

The real beauty of Daily Outcomes is that you can wake up any day and simply ask yourself, “What are the three things I really want to accomplish today?”  That’s it.

Make Your “To Do” List More Meaningful
But what if you have way more than three things to do for the day?   Simply add your three outcomes to the top.

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The three outcomes will guide all the rest of your tasks.  These three outcomes are your “tests for success” for the day.  It’s your personal way of setting yourself up for success each day.

Be the Architect, the Author, or the Director of Your Life
Designing each day empowers you to make things happen with skill.  You can be the architect of your day or the author of your life, a story at a time, and a day at a time:

  • You get to be the architect of your life.  Design stories that empower and inspire you for action.
  • You get to be the author of your life.  Write your story forward and connect to your emotions.
  • You get to be the director of your life.  You choose where to point your camera and what to focus on.

Always remember that you are the most important meaning maker in your life.

Your Assignment

  1. Identify the three results you want for today.
  2. Turn each result into a simple story that connects to your passion and values.

My Related Posts

Photo by dpape.

17 Comments on "Day 3 – Daily Outcomes – Use Three Stories to Drive Your Day"

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  1. alik levin says:

    Thank you for helping me in fleshing out my key outcomes today.

  2. Sandra Lee says:

    It helps having more examples of inspiring one line “stories.” Thanks!

  3. Patricia says:

    1. Have written one successful SEO post for BA
    2. Located Tess’s takeaway post on SEO and printed it.
    3. Finished reading Robinson’s book on Creativity.

    Would these be stories of outcomes in one sentence?

    do I have 3 outcomes for personal too as well as work?

    do I have 3 outcomes for finances each day – or do you take all seven hot spots and come out with 3 results stories for each for the week? – then one could divide them up for the days of the week by 3?

    Am I thinking this through correctly?

  4. Amiya says:

    Where does everyone track these lists? Onenote/Outlook?

  5. JD says:

    @ Alik — It’s hard to have conviction without clarity. Once you got clarity on what you want out of your day, you’ve got the bull by the horns.

    @ Sandra — The beauty of the one-liner stories is they work for the day, the week, the month, and the year … and this is what lets you zoom in or out, to see the forest from the trees … with skill and ease.

    @ Patricia — It’s definitely a start. I might find a way to connect more to my values, like this:
    - I flexed my SEO skills with a high impact post
    - I added three new tools to my SEO toolbelt from Tess’s post
    - I distilled Robinson’s book into three take aways I can act on

    What you really want is less task, more result or outcome. It’s subtle but important because this can shave massive amounts of time and energy off your day, while honing and amplifying your impact — it’s that powerful. For example, if I know I want three take aways from Robinson’s creativity book, then I can skim along hunting for three things I can use. I make it a game, so I use high energy, and I know I’ll “win” three new insights :)

    I spread my three outcomes across work and life — it’s three compelling results for the day. I may have a bunch of “tasks” but I only want to map out my three “wins” for the day. At the end of the day, you’ll want to recap your three wins. You can always “up-level.”

    You have three outcomes for the day, the week, the month, and the year … 3 wins each day, week, month, and year adds up to powerful results … success snowballs.

    You know your stories are at the right level when they help inspire you, prioritize and make trade-offs, help you focus, and ultimately help you feel “on path.” At this stage, just the fact that you wrote down three things you wanted to accomplish for the day, set you up for success. It caused you to make mindful choices, even if you have to adjust throughout the day.

    @ Amiya — For now, I recommend pen and paper. I use a sticky pad most of the time. That said, I’ve tested multiple ways, but my favorite seems to be EverNote. I make a folder called weekly outcomes and a folder called daily outcomes. In my daily outcomes, I write a new list each day and name it the current date … 2010-08-03, 2010-08-04, 2010-08-05, etc. I list all my tasks for the day as I go, and I keep my three key outcomes at the top of the list. I use the same approach for the weekly outcomes and I make one new list and date it for each Monday … 2010-08-02, 2010-08-9, 2010-08-16, etc.

    Between bubbling up three outcomes for the day and the week in my simple lists (always a fresh start) I can easily see across my sea of things to do and prioritize quickly, and let the right things “slough off.”

    It’s worth noting, a lot of my mentees use OneNote, and some use Excel, and some use Outlook.

  6. Patricia says:

    Thank you JD
    Your answers were very clarifying…I am doing better this morning figuring this out…

  7. Rob Boucher says:

    Okay I just did this. Well Sh*t. Wording does make a big difference. I can’t believe I missed this before and the difference in feeling I get when reading the before and after.

    No wonder it’s been too much will power. Not enough connection to why I’m doing things.

    Before
    1. septic tank
    2. file for unemployment
    3. lunch with mark

    -meditate
    -doctor’s appointment and calls to kidney center

    AFTER
    1. Take care of Patti and the family by fixing the Septic tank very quickly
    2. Be responsible family supporter by applying for unemployment
    3. Enjoy yourself and have fun at lunch with mark – (bumped for septic tank)

    Extra
    - proceed toward your goal of meeting your own needs and becoming an incredible man by taking time out for meditation
    - Continue your goal of supporting your wife by coordinating with her doctors and finding contacts

  8. JD says:

    @ Patricia — Your ability to ask good questions is your friend. You have a way of cutting to the chase and testing your results — and that will serve you well.

    @ Rob — You have seriously made the shift — and your stories are inspiring! You have connected your results to your “Why” and have absolutely unleashed your inner-horsepower — all systems go.

    Language is the key — and that’s the secret. The other secret is that the key to finding the language is finding the language that works for you and inspires your best results — and that’s something we each have to figure out for ourselves. It’s the personalization that makes it potent.

  9. Hi J.D,

    I read this post the other day and kept your limit of three things in mind. Not only did I find I got things done faster, but I felt a lot less pressure.

    And then I thought; if I do three things every day (and hopefully they’re productive/enjoyable things), in one month’s time, I’ll have accomplished 90 things ++. In a year, over a thousand.

    I like how you elaborated in your comments. Now I need to begin writing down my daily/weekly three, work on the wording and I’m guessing I’ll really see a difference.

    As usual, this has been a fabulous post. Thank you!

  10. JD says:

    @ Barbara — That’s great to hear! The Rule of 3 has served me well during the best of times and the worst of times.

    I have a continuous flow of demands on my time and I always need a simple way to prioritize and focus. At any point that I start to get overwhelmed, I simply stop and ask myself, what are the three most compelling results I can achieve with the available time, energy, and resources I’ve got. Sometimes it’s about reducing pain. Sometimes it’s about acting on opportunity. It’s always about getting a simple but firm foundation to fall back on ;)

    Thank you.

  11. Rodney Daut says:

    Turning outcomes into inspiring stories is a very good idea. Thanks so much for this. I’m making this a daily habit.

  12. JD says:

    @ Rodney — The key is connecting to your values. For example, if you value continuous learning, than anytime you can turn your tasks into learning opportunities or growth experiences, you’ll unleash your best.

  13. yumi says:

    Thank you for the encouraging reply for my comment for Day 2. I like the image of “unleashing the productive artist in me” :-)

    Today is Friday… How was your Friday Reflection? I got done with the Friday Reflection earlier today, and I’ve already created the Monday Vision for the next week based on what I want to improve from Friday Reflection. What do you think about integrating the elements from Friday Reflection into the Monday Vision? It’s logical and easy to access/modify/re-address as a goal for next week. By the way, I like how you set your balcony view :-)

    I noticed that I learn a lot from insights and comments from other people. I love reading the comment section. I learn even more from your personal and encouraging feedback for them. Here is the list of the phrases or concepts I liked: 1) success snowball, 2) stories are at the right level when they help inspire you, 3) prioritize quickly and let the right things slough off, 4) connect your results to your ‘why’ and have absolutely unleash your inner-horse power, all systems go, 5) the key is finding the language that works for you and inspires your best results, 6) it’s the personalization that makes it potent, 7) The rule of 3 has served me well during the best of times and the worst of times, and 8) it’s always about getting a simple but firm foundation to fall back on.

    I’d like to share a realization I had this morning… My energy level is improving since I pay closer attention to eating, sleeping, and workout schedule. What I eat and what time I eat both deeply influence my energy level especially for workout. It might sound like a normal thing for some people, but it is a wowing-worthy and aha-moment realization for me through my own experience.

    One more thing… It’s getting easier to write the stories based on my 3 goals for the day. I enjoy it and feel empowered by it to get things done and get through the day.

    • JD says:

      Beautiful! … You are truly becoming the author of your life and writing your story forward.

      Eating, sleeping, and working out are the cornerstones for our energy throughout the day. In fact, during my Friday Reflection today I reminded myself how 30 minutes of exercise in the morning helps me get more done in the day, and sleep better at night.

      And, Friday Reflection today helped me notice that I picked up a bad habit of drinking ice coffee too late at night ;)

      I’m actually going through P90X3 now, and I’m super glad they “timebox” it to 30 minutes max. It’s actually a perfect example by how they exponentially improved their results, by setting a time limit. It forced them to find better techniques, combine things better, and stay more focused.

      Your 3 goals, stories, enjoyment, and empowerment are your edge for whatever life throws your way.

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