SUMMARY: Over the past week or so I’ve identified many personal tips and insights that will help 2010 be more productive and goal-focused. To ensure that I can be reminded of what needs to be done every day, I made a personal tracking form / cheat sheet to help keep on task. This past weekend I spent a lot of time reviewing my current situation, qualitatively weighing my sense of progress against my sense of achievement. The net evaluation? I’m not satisfied. I didn’t beat myself up too much, though, since I know I’m actively trying to reorient my work-related identity from Designer to Producer of Goods. One critical insight from the weekend session: As a Designer, I was focused on getting more design work. However, as a producer of goods, I should be applying my design sense to the creation of awesome products and get them out into the world…thanks GaryC for that mental nudge. It’s a subtle shift in emphasis, one that I hope results in improved clarity. This month, I’m going to start testing that hypothesis.
Getting a Grip
In my recent posts on packaging what I’ve already designed and kicking off the 2010 Groundhog Day Resolutions season, I’ve identified a whole boatload of principles, insights, and rules of thumb that I’ve gleaned over the past five years of blogging. One recurring problem, however, has been in the spotty focus on GHDRs day-to-day. This is something I believe I need to fix right now.
The GHDR (Groundhog Day Resolution) focus is met incompletely by two existing forms I’ve made:
- The Emergent Task Planner deals with daily “must get done” tasks. However, since it is “emergent”, it is by nature a reactive approach. While things do get done, it’s not a form that enforces the adherence to a strategy; the implicit assumption is that there’s already a strategy in place to guide your daily to-dos.
- The Concrete Goals Tracker is a higher-level form that is more suitable in principle, but it’s designed to create strategy-supporting habits, not implement a specific strategy directly. The design works because it relies on a mechanism that harnesses our natural desire to see our actions in a positive light similar to being a “spin doctor” or rationalizing our behaviors. In this way, we can theoretically condition ourselves to be on the lookout for favorable opportunities where we didn’t before. I’ve attemped to adapt the CGT a couple times before, once in this lengthy resolution-making process article from 2009 and another in this general New Year’s Resolution process. Neither approach I found to be particularly interesting, though.
I decided to make a new form that is essentially a cheat sheet containing everything I believe is working for me. Although it is highly personalized for me, I think there are probably some ideas here that may serve others.
The basic premise is pretty simple: print out one of these for every week or two, and keep track of what I’m making to fulfill my stated Groundhog Day Resolution Master Goal:
To create exciting start-up kits with people I like and respect while making an honest buck.
There’s a place where I can keep track of what I’m doing, but the bulk of the sheet is stuffed with reminders and tips of how I will actually meet that goal. In educational terms, I believe this is called “scaffolding”; any educational theorists out there reading this can give me a hand here.
I’m going to try this form for the next few weeks to see if it helps me maintain a sense of clarity and purpose. You can download a printable PDF to assess for your own personal resolution-making activities. It’s not an official supported form release, but it may become part of a Groundhog Day Resolution package in the future. The next challenge, actually, is to remake my portable desk/notebook that neatly complements my online communication tools. Otherwise, I won’t have a place to physically look at every day! That’s an essential factor in making paper forms as part of the daily workflow.