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Sep 07

How is your Time Porfolio? Staying Healthy and Sane in Tech

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time spiral

I really enjoyed reading Alex discuss staying healthy at a startup and his quest for balance.

I am going through a similar journey myself, and it isn’t easy! I seem to be going through a cycle (often recursively) of:

  • Measure
  • Plan
  • Execute.

I don’t have a lot to offer the space. There are a ton of books on the subject, and I am far from a master, but here are thoughts that I have been having as I watch my own progress:

Measure

I have a tendency to jump into things and want to fix everything at once. In this case, I normally sit down and write out a new process and charge off on that path. This time around, I tried to start with measurement. What is the realistic starting point that you find yourself in? To keep it simple, I would track where I am spending time (you can do so in your calendar, in notes, whatever). It is hard to hold off judgement as you see the reality of your time portfolio start to time through. The act of tracking time will quickly have you a little shocked at where your time goes. Draw out an ideal time portfolio before hand, and see how it compares (not just for work, but everything in your life. You are only one person :).

A friend was talking to me about J.D. Rockfeller and how he measured his businesses. He discussed how most businesses don’t measure anything. Some measure where they are. Better ones measure trajectory, Great ones measure their acceleration.

I now try to have that in the back of my head when I think about measuring goals. For example, the dollars that you have in the bank is interesting, but to plan, how much better is it to know how it has been growing, and how FAST it has been growing.

Plan

I really liked this segment of Alex’s post:

I’ve found that time management has little to do with “lifehacks” and how you manage your email inbox and more to do with prioritization, saying “no” to people, and clearly communicating the expectations you have for yourself and others.

Yes! It isn’t about gimmicks.

I find that a lot of people have a quick look at “GTD” and think all they need to do is write down tasks that need to be done. The core principles go beyond that and discuss much more. I have fallen into the “what am I doing today”-only trap. What happens when I am planning in the weeds only is that I keep putting one foot in front of the other quickly, but if you don’t look up, you find yourself in the wrong place when you eventually do!

The plans that I am trying to make now have different levels to them. I have the high level goals, and then closer objectives with tasks falling out that can get me baby steps to my goals. Family Wealth is a book that has you think about family planning in a very different way, and time span. Think: 100 years, not 20 years. I have found that if I can articulate and have long term goals well thought out, then when I come down the stack and do more near term plans, I can measure them against the big picture. There are other side effects too. I can be more tolerant to tasks or things that would bug me, as I know that the act of participation or completion are getting me closer to goals.

Execute

Habbit. I have a simple process that I keep tweaking (test a new process, measure! Don’t try to start with The Right Process). I have the process written down simply, and every week has me visit the process and go through the motions:

  • what are my big picture goals, what metrics to I have, how am I doing?
  • Now, what needs to happen this week? How can those be measured?
  • Finally, what needs to happen today. At this point I insert the short daily planning process.

This is my new kata. This gives me repeatability.

It has also shown me a lot. For example, we all know that too many meetings are a pain. When you start to measure, you realise that meetings can be Pure Evil! :)

Earlier, I tweeted this: “MEETINGS: A way for someone to get their priorities pushed on your TODO list.”

Suddenly all of those great plans for the day that you made, that are traceable to higher level goals, are thrown out of the window. This is where you have to get brutal and say “no”. You have to block out time on your calendar to map to your goals. Whatever it takes. If you have to give people time allocations that everyone can spend on a meeting, so be it. WHAT EVER IT TAKES.

Hard work

As a developer, I often look to tools to solve problems. Is there a way to create a new social platform to make this all easier? I do think that better tools in the arsenal could help, but these issues seem to come down to putting the time in and making a habbit. If you put the time in and want to make a difference, you can use post its or Notepad and be effective. If you don’t put the time in, you can use “The 7 habits of highly awesome people social game dynamic money making web 2.0 dot com” tool and fail.

May we all reach out highest goals. Are you going in the right direction?

2 Responses to “How is your Time Porfolio? Staying Healthy and Sane in Tech”

  1. Yurtdışı Eğitim Says:

    Thank you for your advices. I will used this advices in my life.

  2. s Says:

    Do you mind sharing your big picture goals?

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