Agile Results is a Personal Productivity Platform

14
2008

Personal Productivity Platform“Those who trust to chance must abide by the results of chance.” —  Calvin Coolidge

For a lot of people I know, they aren’t getting the results they want.

Let’s fix that.

One of the best ways to get results is to use a system.  Why is that?  Because if you use a system, you can keep tuning it.

Stand Stronger on a Personal Productivity Platform

But it’s more than that.  If you use a system, you don’t have to keep figuring out the basics.  You can move up the stack and focus on higher-level issues.  Another benefit is that you can chip away at a problem.

Few problems withstand sustained effort over time.

By creating a simple personal productivity platform, you make it easier to focus and concentrate your effort, and to compound your impact.  Your time, energy, and attention add up and accrue to better results and bigger breakthroughs.

The Personal Productivity Platform in a Nutshell

Agile Results is a very simple system, that I use, along with many other, for getting better results in work and life:

  • Monday – Each Monday, write down three results you want for the week.  Yes, just three.  And write down the “results” you want, not the ‘tasks” of how you’ll get it done.
  • Daily – Each day, write down three results you want for that day.  Again, identify the ‘results”, not the tasks.  If you know what you want to accomplish, you’ll figure out the tasks.
  • Friday – Each Friday, ask yourself, “What are three things going well?” and “What are three things to improve?” and write them down.

That’s the Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection pattern from my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.

The writing down part is important, even if you lose it.  It’s the process.  This is a simple, but systematic way to get results.  In fact, it might seem too simple, but that’s why it works.

Why a Personal Productivity Platform Works

I’m torn between wanting to tell you a story or give you an example to light this up, but I’m actually going to reveal the magic for now.  If you know why the system works, you can better leverage it to unleash your best results.  Here are some of the finer points on why this system works:

  1. It’s pinned to a week.  Each week is another chance to test the system.
  2. It uses The Rule of Three.  By sticking with three things, it helps you chunk up your results and make them easier to remember.
  3. It works with pen and paper.  I use an electronic approach.  But I’m primarily paper-based.  I use sticky notes to write my three things down.
  4. It’s “outcome” focused.  Because you are focusing on three results, you avoid being a “task master.”  All of your “tasks” should roll up to your three results or outcomes.  These three results are your tests for success for the day, and the beauty is, you decide what those three key things are.
  5. Meaningful results.  This makes you the author of your life.  You write your story forward.  You define those three results each day, and each week.
  6. You automatically improve focus, priorities, and time management.  Simply by making mindful choices about your results, you’re exercising your focus, priorities and time management.  By focusing on the day or the week, you are tuning your time management skills by figuring out what you can bite off that makes sense with the time you’ve got.
  7. Avoid overload and overwhelm.  Rather than get buried under your tasks, you uplevel it.  You decide the meaningful results to carve out for the day or the week.
  8. You can see the forest from the trees.  You can zoom into the day, by focusing on your three key results, or your can take a look from the balcony, and focus on your three key results for the week.
  9. It’s a positive spin.  You’re basically empowering yourself and taking ownership of your results.  In addition, part of Friday Reflection is shining the light on your personal victories.  These quickly add up.  Every week.
  10. Roll with the punches.  Things go wrong.  This system is all about getting back on your horse, in the simplest way possible.  Did you fall off today?  Fine … it’s a clean slate.  Simply ask yourself, what are three results you want for today, with the time, energy, and resources you’ve got?
  11. Fresh starts.  It’s a fresh start, each day, each week, etc.
  12. It’s a learning loop.  Just by practicing the system

It’s a system I’ve used with many people over many years.  It’s worked wonders.  The surprise is how effective it is for such a simple system, but the proof is in the results.  Take it for a test drive and see whether it helps you whip your day into more meaningful results, improves your energy, and helps you actually achieve more of the things that matter to you.

Keep the test simple and just write down three results you want to achieve today down on paper.  That’s it.  You’re doing Agile Results.

Here are some additional resources to explore for more information:

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Hi J.D.!

    Thank you for sharing your system. I definitely agree that using the kind of system you’ve set forth here helps increase awareness and as a by product increases your ability to focus.

    If I could add one thing to your list of 12 it would be to maintain flexibility. Although having a system provides numerous benefits as you’ve expressed above, I also think you need to maintain a certain level of flexibility so that you can take advantage of spontaneous creative energy or your bodies signs that your pushing to hard.

    I’m a type A personality so I love systems, but if I’m not careful to incorporate flexibility the very systems that help me can start to work against me as well.

    Here’s to the magic of systems!

  2. It is Friday and I am wrapping my week, which is the last week of the month, so I am wrapping my month. I have been using your system for some time and it surely gets me results – daily, weekly, monthly, annually.
    Good stuff!

  3. Great information J.D. – it’s very Agile Way’ish!

    I love taking a systematic approach because it builds in the points that I need to be successful; priority, execution, measurement, etc. During a week’s time, I’m faced with A LOT of tasks and I’ve actually been utilizing methods learned from your book. I’ve even shared it with others. In time, I’ll provide a thorough review…but in short – you have a gift of delivering useful, tested information. All too often do people provide info that they think would work, but never even tried it…you’re certainly not that guy!
    Thank you. peace.

  4. Hi J.D.! I didn’t know about this system but I can totally see how this approach would be helpful. Now I have to wait until Monday to try it. 🙂 I love that’s a positive approach and we get a fresh start each week. Just lovely to reinvent ourselves constantly.
    Thanks for the inspiration. Loving blessings!

  5. J. D.

    This is an amazing summary of your system. This system has worked really well for me, but I got off the path. Thanks for the reminder to get back on. I’m grabbing my calendar and sticky notes…right now.

  6. Hi JD
    Sounds like a good system to keep those New Year’s Resolutions on track.

    I bet most people don’t even write them down.
    So my system is – write down your New Year’s Resolutions and once in a while – take a look at them.
    Once a month, once a week or even daily, remind yourself.

  7. JD, totally digging “the system.” I love the Monday, Daily, and Friday lists. For someone like me who tends to be scatter-brained if left to our own devices, writing lists helps me to be productive, and results-oriented lists like “what 3 things went well?” and “What 3 things can improve?” really shake things up. Thanks for sharing this! I love it!

  8. @ Marlee — I agree — flexibility is king. In fact, that’s actually why the system is called “Agile Results.” Life changes under our feet, and you know what they say about even the best laid plans of mice and men 😉

    The true test of a system is how well it flexes when the rubber meets the road.

    The flexibility aspect comes from creating stories each day based on what you want to achieve. For example, today I want to:
    – creat a game changing model for strategy
    – have a fantastic lunch
    – Whip my disaster zone into a productivity palace

    However, here’s where the flexibility magic comes in. If during the day, I find a better opportunity, I can trade-up in a mindful way. The fact that I identified my three best wins for the day, now means I can respond to anything that comes my way by making a conscious, and deliberate trade-off.

    @ Alik — I have to say, it’s been amazing watching you build rolling thunder in your new job. Your wins just keep adding up, and you have a firm foundation to springboard from. Way to go.

    @ Jk — It sounds like you’re carving a path through a jungle of challenges, and winning. Beautiful.

    I like the way you teased out an important distinction — a tested approach. It’s true that there is always a gap between what we think should work and what does work.

    Ironically, my job for the last 10 years has been focused on finding and testing “proven practices” in the software space. It’s basically deliberate practice in the art of best practices. I need to share a lot more of my learnings here — I’ve definitely been on a unique adventure with a lot of unique opportunity.

    @ Andrea — Agile Results (the name of the system) has been a key to never having a “case of the Mondays” again. If you saw the movie Office Space, the joke is that Mondays suck. With this system, instead of being a victim of the new week, you decide what your adventure will be about, and you set your sails, for the week.

    You’re reminding me that I should do a video to walk through the system.

    @ Sandra — Thank you. It’s truly been the most effective way I’ve found to balance competing forces:
    1. Taking action without checking the path
    2. Over-analyzing the path
    3. Overwhelming yourself with too many options and possibilities

    On any given day, you can simply ask yourself what three wins you want to focus on. Because this is outcome focused, you can be flexible in how you get there. Because it is outcome focused, you have an end in mind. Because it is outcome focused, you can evaluate the value of the win — and check whether your ladder is up against the right wall, before you start you climb.

    And because it’s the Rule of 3 in action, you can better prioritize and make the most of your energy and focus. And because you’re choosing three, this helps you uplevel and always take a look from the balcony before getting mired in the weeds.

    It’s elegance in action, and that’s the beauty.

    @ Oran — It’s from iStockPhoto. It costs money, but it saves me time, when I can’t find the right image down the creative commons path in Flickr.

    @ Keith — The beauty is it’s a way to keep getting up to bat, so you don’t fail until you stop getting up to bat. It’s way to chip away at the stone until you breakthrough.

    The smartest thing I ever did was pin the system to the calendar. By having a fresh start, each day, each week, each month, it’s never a burden. By pinning it to Monday, Daily, and Friday, it’s an eady reminder of the key success patterns. It also makes it super easy to get back on the horse, whenever I fall off (which I do.)

    @ Bryan — Thank you. Lists can be way more powerful than people give them credit for. Here’s why. If you don’t write things down, you burn up your pre-frontal cortext trying to remember things or put things in a sequence. When you write them down, you can focus your pre-frontal cortext on higher-level activities — the smart stuff. Your pre-frontal is where you can do your smart stuff, in contrast to the lizard brain.

    So people that use lists have an extreme advantage over those that don’t. The military knows this, and that’s how fighter pilots can focus where it counts. They use checklists to share tribal knowledge in a simple way, and to nail the low hanging fruit, and to bake best practices into routines.

    Can a fighter pilot land without a checklist? Sure. Does having the checklist help make sure other things don’t go wrong? You betcha.

  9. Hi J.D.,

    Your book looks great. Love the word agile! Nice of you to share this system. I’m guessing it’s going to help a lot of your readers. Can a system be a non-system, a rebellious system, a system that doesn’t appear to be a system?

    Think I’ve got one but in a different format. I often publicly state that I’m doing something and give a date. That works well for me because I feel that since I enjoy being a person of my word, not doing it would make me a person not of my word.

    Is it in vogue again to keep your word? I’m not saying that I’d do anything crazy to keep it, but feeling strongly about doing what I say I’m going to do keeps me from not saying I’m going to do things I don’t plan on doing, if that makes any sense.

    Thanks for the book …

    g

  10. […] Get the System on Your Side from J. D. Meier at Sources of […]

  11. Hi JD .. taken me ages to get here – other total distractions .. still another major aspect out of the way. So now I can follow this post – ready for actually settling down with a clearish slate to open new doors to the future, which have so quietly been waiting in the wings.

    Thanks – I will this time be following this and I have your book to refer to .. Have a good week – Hilary

  12. @ Giuletta — Thank you. I’m a fan of agility and I too love the word agile.

    I think we all have non-systems by default. Our personal systems are whatever we do out of habit. Sometimes we luck into success, and other times we don’t.

    The key is to reshape your non-system into what works for you by testing against your results. At the end of the day, it’s about balancing the journey with the destination.

    I think the real beauty of a system is when it doesn’t appear to be a system at all, and we just naturally fall into our best habits and practices. I think in the early stages, training wheels and scaffolding help get us to that point.

    @ Hilary — Welcome back. A clearish slate is a good start, and new doors sound exciting.

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