It’s Day 2 of my 2016 Groundhog Day Resolution Challenge, and I’m starting it off pretty slow. There are a number of tasks I have to handle, and so I’m taking a bit of advice from myself to “embrace slowness” rather than “pursue speediness”. I scoped the work for today as designing a “Groundhog Day Resolutions Tracker” based on my old concrete goals tracker, which is the first productivity form I ever made. There’s a lot of things I like about it, and to this day its principles guide me in all my productivity-focused decision making.
Adapting the Concrete Goals Tracker
The key idea behind the Concrete Goals Tracker (or CGT) is to develop one’s mindfulness toward the tasks that actually make a difference to your desired goal. To achieve this, the CGT tracks how many points you are awarded for doing things that can be matched against a short list. The list is weighted, so that the most important business success criteria (like getting a check) receive far more points than the supporting tasks (such as reading something related to the business). Naturally, people want the big points, but getting to them requires the doing of many small things that eventually make that big check possible, so it’s still possible to get a “score” for each day.
With a good list, it’s a very powerful habit-building tool. I even encourage rule-bending on it, because if you can make the justification that what you’re doing is really helping your business, you are at least thinking about success in the kind of devious way that probably serves you well! After a few weeks, you will be amazed at the patterns that arise in the tracking data, which is designed for minimal input and “self-charts” your progress as you use the form every day. It’s a surprisingly good way to develop both mindfulness in a process and build a new habit. After a while, you probably won’t need the form anymore at all.
For the Groundhog Day Version, I need to know what will go on the all-important “what should I be doing” list. While I’ve outlined the challenge in yesterday’s post, but only at a high level; an effective motivating list has to focus on the critical tasks of (roughly in order of descending point value) reward, building trials, acquiring resources, capturing learning, and peer engagement, as well as all the supporting legwork that goes with it.
Choosing the Criteria for the List
I spent 30 minutes doing a braindump tonight, creating a list of specific tasks that I thought would meet the criteria. This list will likely change when I start to layout the form tomorrow, but it looks something like this now:
|10||Any ‘concrete’ result that is finished in itself or as a subgoal, and can be used to progress one of the designated goals for the year.|
|5||Evidence that your results have been seen by an actual person other than yourself; Making a blog post related to any concrete result; Selection/Rejection of something new you tried; Used a concrete result to help a peer|
|3||Talked to a person face-to-face about a goal you’re working on; Found a new approach to try through research; Tried something new related to progressing the goals; Was asked about your goal and you responded; Completed a list of interrelated tasks (no more than 3 at a time);|
|2||Reduced the scope of a task to make it more easily started; Applied knowledge from an article or book; Captioned and uploaded a photograph of your progress somewhere public; Made a diagram/model/strategy for tackling the goal|
|1||Talked to people about your goal-related work virtually (like in a chat program or twitter); Researched a topic on the Internet; Read an article or book; Took a photo of your progress; Added or changed your diagram/model/strategy plan|
My general intent is to reward things that got done the most as well as encourage the reuse/spread of results to others in a social manner, so they get 10 and 5 point assignments. Trial-and-error is a big part of making progress, as it is a form of turning uncertainty into certainty, which makes informed decision-making possible and deserve 3 points. Everything else is a form of supporting activity, and it’s stuff I am going to do anyway so they get 1 point. These also happen to be tasks that people get lost in that end up not contributing very much…you know, reading books all the time instead of actually making something.
Choosing Concrete Goals to Pursue
A second requirement of this form is being able to designate which of my goals is “active”, or maybe just to remember what they are. The original CGT is designed for use with only one goal at a time (e.g. improve one’s freelance business). While I’d like to make the GHDR version a one-sheet, weekly-use form, it may not all fit on an 8.5×11 page…
But I digress. Here’s the list of worthy goals that I’ve designated for 300+ days of daily challenge:
|GOAL||RESULT / METRIC|
|DAILY THING DELIVERABLE||That’s this post + result (the concept outline). Every day from 2/2 through 12/12 I will be making a “thing” related to my goals and posting the results here.|
|CREATIVE BUSINESS||Any expansion of capability, addition of product, or financial report produced is a result.|
|SHARING STUFF I LOVE||Any blog post written about something I love for whatever reason counts as a result. Should include photographs. And should also be less than 500 words.|
|SHARING WHAT I KNOW||Any blog post or document that shares my knowledge about that which I love, find weirdly interesting, or is worth spreading around is a result. This can include links, and technology to make sharing those links easier.|
|2024 GAME||Any github commit to my 1401 game engine project is a result. There are other game designs I’m working on, but these are in the design documentation stage and I am not sure if I’ll make them public. We’ll see.|
|2024 ILLUSTRATION||Any drawing or doodle made is a result.|
|2024 MUSIC COMPOSITION||Any original fragment of music composed and encoded into MP3 form is a result.|
|2024 THINKING SOFTWARE||Any github commit (that runs) is a result.|
|2024 PHYSICAL MAKING||Any crafted physical object, shown to someone in person, is a result.|
|2024 COOKING ACHIEVEMENT||Any food prepared and consumed by someone other than myself is a result.|
It’s important to note that while the above list seems to be all about results, the emphasis of the CGT approach is on building the processes and momentum to get to them. Results are the big juicy point fruits, but you’ll need a lot of the smaller ones to get to that point. The best thing is that once you get a result, it’s something you own and can use again; the production of results count as steady progress on a goal!
I’m not exactly sure how this will actually come together when I start working on it tomorrow, but I’ll worry about it then.