I'm trying to figure out how a better way to stay on track with my long term (1 year) goals.
Currently I have a list of measurable 1 year goals (eg: Explore and work out of at least 3 cities this year)
I also write daily work/life todo lists in a moleskine notebook to keep myself on track during the day.
Does anyone have any recommendations/tools for keeping these daily goals todo list goals in alignment with the big picture?
This doesn't mean the plan was unnecessary...rather the plan carves out the neural pathways in your mind. The feeling part is important too since if I am so rigid then I am going to be crushed by the randomness of life.
I used to hear this a lot from one of my better bosses. I agree with it. It is, however, important to capture "planning". Any form is fine, whether scribbles or a list or a picture of a whiteboard. Trying to organize the raw info was usually a waste of time, but having it accessible as a reference wasn't.
They have a good lists of mind sweep / brain-dump triggers  that I think benefit everyone even without ever doing everything one writes down.
General George S. Patton, Jr.
No plan survives contact with the enemy.
For this reason, I sorely miss the Timeful app (bought and shut down by Google) which nailed the process perfectly, integrating one-off todos, habits (e.g. 3 runs/week) and calendar management in a single system. AI-based suggestions for scheduling todos was the icing on the cake.
To this day, sadly I still haven't found a decent replacement.
Google Calendar took the automatic habits scheduling engine from it but is otherwise inadequate for todos, and well-established todo managers like Things / Wunderlist stubbornly refuse to allow something as simple as drag+dropping todos onto a calendar at a specific time of the day (which is the critical bit), and they don't support habits ("tick this box n times a week")
Plan (getplan.co) seemed promising but is too alpha for daily use and development seems to have stalled. SkedPal nails it in theory but is over-engineered and bloated, its UI asks too many questions and cognitive load is high, it needs "Apple-ification".
Any other recommendations very welcome ! Even happy to beta test or collaborate on something new (I know the world already has too many productivity apps, but it lost the "right" one with Timeful IMHO)
I recently decided to start tracking my life todos in addition to the work projects, which was as simple as creating a life directory and running `git init`.
Org-mode does require using emacs, if it is too crufty for you or you don't like the learning curve, try spacemacs! Its org layer is well configured, and it is also well suited for modal editing if that's your thing.
For long term goals and planning, I prefer to break things down into bullet points, and categories, and check them off as I go. https://taskade.com has been great for that (though no calendar integration), especially with their Chrome Extension that loads your most recent list on each new tab.
Todoist is replacing Wunderlist for me with their more frequent updates.
The "Apple-ification" as you put it is done pretty well. In place of drag + drop to set a time of day, tasks can be created with inline date parsing. So tasks can be created with something like: "Meeting with Tim at Tues 3pm", and it'd pick that up. It's missing direct support for habits aside from having recurring todos.
If you'd like, I've got a 3-month premium code left over I can send your way. Not affiliated with them, just a happy user.
I too have tried most if not all of the tools in @renaudg's post and have come to the same conclusion: nothing really matches Timeful.
Yes, WeekPlan allows for todos, repeating tasks and appointments to live together.
Additionally, you can set goals for each of your roles in your life (father, colleague, brother, etc...).
It doesn't help tackle longer term goals yet though, for that you could check OKR softwares.
The one thing it might lack is guidance to organizing projects/subtasks/dependencies. But luckily I don't need those in my calendar.
moo.do just added that as a new feature. I've not logged back in to try it again but it might be worth having a look at?
I also pray quite frequently (I'm Christian, but I believe some types of meditation are just as effective here). I look at my principles and ask myself whether I'm genuinely living up to them, and ask myself how I can improve.
I have tried using OmniFocus and MyLifeOrganised, but I found both tools got in the way of my thought process. Now I just use paper and coloured pens.
"Good intentions" :- Things I think I'm going to do. I investigate then put in other columns.
"Next Up" :- Need to have a go at next.
"Working On" :- Actively doing.
"Done/Dead" :- Things that I did as well as things I failed at or discarded.
"Follow Up" :- Something happened, so need to wait on something/someone to then allow me to continue.
"Asleep" :- Sometimes things are not 'Dead' they are just really not worth looking at for another year or so. I evaluate these projects once a year or and move them into Next Up if viable again.
It's my home page when I fire up my browser. ;)
That's maybe what I've been missing with this approach...I've set up very similar Trello boards in the past only to have them get stale because I only looked at them on a 'pull' basis rather than having them 'pushed' to me automatically.
Your method just made me realise where I am in my life and how much more I need to accomplish.
I'll be trying this the next couple of weeks.
I also keep ambitions on there. So one of them is "Become a councillor". I don't plan to try and be a councillor until 2019, but it's nice to see it on there. ;)
I'm guessing the board is about dreams, ambitions, and even the odd big task.
The basic idea isn't too far off from the million other "habit" apps out there. I say I want to meditate X days a week, tell Beeminder whenever I meditate, Beeminder gives me a pretty (okay, decently attractive) graph of how I'm doing, and they tell me if I'm not meditating as much as I want to.
The key that makes Beeminder stick (heh) is that it makes use of commitment contracts. I don't just say I want to meditate X days a week, I promise Beeminder that if I don't meditate X days a week, I will pay them $5 (or $10, or $30). You can cancel or decrease your goal at any time, but only with a week of heads-up, so you can quit for a well thought out reason but not because you just don't feel like it today.
I've tried to start a lot of habits in my life, but I've historically been very bad at sticking with them for very long. It's so easy to give into the "I'll just do that tomorrow" syndrome.
As an example, here's my Beeminder graph for "tidying up": https://www.beeminder.com/jds02006/tidyup
I love having a clean desk, but historically I'd have a clean desk every 6 months, followed by a slow accretion of messy crap. Now, if I don't spend 5 minutes tidying up my work area every few days, I'll have to pay Beeminder $30. Result: my desk area is completely clear.
It sounds crazy (to my wife, at least), but it's ridiculously good at bringing your long-term goals (and the consequences for not achieving them) into the present.
Disclaimer: I have no association with Beeminder, but they have sent me stickers for making bug reports. :)
Or is it paid into a savings account or something for you to have access to later?
If you actually pay the company that money, and if their app is based around that pricing, that's a pretty unique business model idea.
The gist is that they make money by a) selling a monthly subscription to give you more options and features, and b) charging you the amounts too small to motivate you so you can get up to the amounts that you take seriously.
They've set up their pricing so that you will pay half of the motivating amount to find the motivating amount, e.g., you might lose $5+10+30 over three weeks in order to find out that the threat of paying $90 motivates you. They argue that most people would never feel that $90 threat without experiencing the first $45 of losses because they'd either not sign up for $90 right away or cancel quickly since they hadn't sunk anything into the program.
Their more experienced users pay the monthly premium to skip the first few weeks of penalties and make progress faster since they already know the level of financial risk that motivates them. They also let you adjust the number down since circumstances and habits can change your ideal wager.
At this point I know my limits fairly well and set goals I'll actually want to achieve. I still pay for the premium features, though, which let me use beeminder as a capable generalized scheduling and tracking system for irregular tasks (e.g. remind me if I haven't called my grandmother in three weeks).
How much have you had to pay beeminder?
How do you make payments (escrow, credit card, PayPal, etc)?
Is it a non-profit?
It seems like this would be a great opportunity for a non-profit. Although it may reduce the incentive a bit. I expect it will be psychologically similar. Especially if the non-profit overhead is something like 10%. You are effectively losing 10% of what could have gone directly to your non-profit of choice.
about $300 or so, much of it front-loaded towards early on when I was still gaining some necessary meta-habits, like "check beeminder carefully every morning/night."
> How do you make payments (escrow, credit card, PayPal, etc)?
They're credit card only for now.
> It seems like this would be a great opportunity for a non-profit.
I have no problem rewarding Beeminder for a service I find many times more valuable than what I pay them. Paying Beeminder my pledges is voluntary and mutually beneficial--they get an incentive to keep the service running, I get an incentive to improve my behavior. I like giving to charity too, but I'm fine with my Beeminder contracts strictly rewarding Beeminder.
That said, you can be conservative in your goals and spend zero $ on the service. It's all up to you.
1. You set the payment amount, but the default is exponential. (Edit: didn't read your comment thoroughly enough the first time to know you were referring to the OP, not the general policy.)
2. Payments are done via credit card, although Paypal support seems to be in the works.
3. It does not appear to be a non-profit. It looks like a business where Beeminder's living is made off of people paying when they fail their goals.
But maybe the best way to refute that is that we've been around 5.5 years and our long-term churn (not counting short-term churn of dabblers which is embarrassingly high cuz Beeminder is super nerdy and intimidating-looking!) is only 2%/month.
PS: Huge thanks to enoch_r for the beautiful testimonial!
I realize your feedback is about the impression it gives, totally separate from how greedy we actually are, but we're still tiny ($22k/mo revenue with 3.5 FTEs). And like enoch_r and mgiannopoulos have averred, paying the penalties to Beeminder generally feels super fair. So that's why we've limited the charity option to the ultra-VIP plan. (We're super open to more feedback about this though. We tend to get a highly biased sample of opinion from our users, i.e., the people who weren't immediately put off by our apparent greed. :))
specifically answering your question - this framework makes you regularly review your task list and ensures that you have a quantifiable next action for every large scale (1-year project) that you can do to reach your final goal.
Newer research (Dan Ariely's IIRC) has shown that having tasks on the calendar improves the chances of actually doing a realistic number of them.
When I "trust" my calendar, I eventually have become able to put something on there, at a specific time, that I'll actually do as if it's a committment to someone else.
I do think there is a psychology about how you approach your work. My personal anecdote is that because I believe that I'll always have more committments, more work, and more tasks than I can ever get done, GTD works wonders for me. I put things in their relevant contexts, and I do whatever the next most important is. As long as I know I'm doing the next most important thing in the context I currently am in (including NOT doing something from my lists), then I have a calm confidence in what I'm spending my time.
Others really like to have a "daily calendar" where they put what they think they should get to in the day, and then work through the list to "finish" the day. I tend to get too many interruptions, and too many bombs from others at work and home to really trust that I can say I'll get any specific action done today, and certainly not in what order. Day specific events in the calendar I have found very useful though.
GTD isn't dogma, pick the right approach for you, but it is a good toolset/approach for many things. It can be very flexible to fit your particular motivators and environment and constraints.
Easiest way to handle this is a seperate calendar in Outlook or Google Calendar. Set recurring reminders for a day of the month. Done.
The fancy tools can be a real distraction. Start with something cheap and easy and build the habit.
However, bear in mind that plans are rarely followed to execution perfectly. You may meet someone who wants you to stay, or you may get a really good offer. You might experience financial hardship and need to settle down for a while.
When I go on a hike, I spend a good hour or two studying maps (topographical, orthophoto, etc) before picking a trail. It means that I can decide on a whim to follow another trail halfway through if conditions call for it (mud, rain, wild animals, etc). Planning is about mapping out all possible outcomes, and not so much about following one plan to the letter.
If you, like me, are vaguely afraid of facing the future, it's enormously helpful to have a todo list, and to set aside a small part of every day for tending the todo list.
It's hugely helpful to have a moment in the day when you tell yourself you're not actually going to do any work (you are off the hook), but you're going to look at your list and poke and prod it in advance of such time as you're ready to work again.
Simply forgiving yourself the need to actually take action on any given item, and focusing on organizing what you've got, is immensely freeing, and sets you up pretty nicely for the next morning.
In any case, long term goals often don't require much day to day action. Let's the long term goal is to save money for buying a house. That involves making a budget and sticking to it. Once a week you go over expenses and see if you need to make corrections.
If the goal is to travel the world, you start by planning where to go to. Then you figure out what medical actions you need to take, what VISA you need to apply for, ect. All of this requires some timeframe - you have to plan this and put it into you calendar. And once every month you go over what you need to do this month, and every week you go over what needs to happen this week.
The motivation to do this is the end goal. I wish I could tell you something magical, but it is dedication and deciplin. Make it easy for yourself, do it while you have a nice cup of coffee or whatever you like.
Of course, we do a technical rotation, and there's a lot of small tasks to do, most of which require a very quick grep of the logs.
Ok. That's a weird detail to bother hipsterbragging about.
Anyway, I have a post it on my monitor that says. "Just do the fucking thing and stop doing busywork". I have a second one that says "Successful people have better things to do than arguing on reddit/hn"
Tldr; constant visible progress, cut distractions
What type is "moleskine" a colloquial name for, exactly? I had thought they were just pricey notebooks with hard covers but I've never seen one except in ads...
All notebooks with black covers, at least in some circles. (As in, anything that looks somewhat like the products by the brand moleskine. Which are nice, but as you say pricey and not necessarily better than other brands, even if you care about details in your notebooks)
They're really nice notebooks and look awesome. People have them for the same reason they like nice watches; good quality, a status symbol and signalling.
> "Successful people have better things to do than arguing on reddit/hn"
A priori ad hominem. Very clever. I think I am going to end all my posts like that from now on.
Remember, kids! "Successful people have better things to do than arguing on reddit/hn" -nzjrs
you pick a long term goal and associate a metric to it.
Example: weight from 180 to 170
That's your lag measure.
Your lead measure are the activities you get done daily.
- Daily caloric intake
- sleep schedule
- exercise routine
- water intake
- intermittent fasting
Your lead measure influence your lag measure but as the name indicates, it takes time before you notice the effect.
Focus on your lead metrics and adjust when they are not working.
Any day in which I do not make progress towards one of my Big Goals is a failure. Any day in which I do make progress is a success.
Remember this when you decide what today's todos are. Remind yourself of this when you have to juggle priorities and ditch half of your list for today because something came up. And forgive yourself for the times you fall off the wagon; shit happens. But let that little bit of "I got fuck-all done today" guilt carry over to the next morning to spur you to the Big Important Projects.
This is how I kept myself working on long projects, first one that took a year, then one that took five years. Some parts were slower than others. Some were interrupted by life.
The fewer Big Things you have to juggle, the easier it is to keep returning to them.
Use whatever todo list makes you happy. Personally I use a lightweight version of the Pomodoro method; I write down 3-5 things to do with my day on a post-it, with 4-8 checkboxes total next to them, each representing a half an hour. I usually never check all of them because Things Come Up. This post-it stays on my desk, and gets the next day's stuck on top of it. Every now and then I look at old ones and toss them.
I've been ignoring it thinking it's corporate BS and doesn't really apply to personal life. But I tried it in last year (where I quit my day job to bootstrap my own startup) and felt having a systematic thinking is actually productive.
I think aligning daily habits with long term goals could be beneficial
The best thing I ever did for my to-do habit was to get rid of the backlog. I don't backlog tasks now. I only track things I am working on now, or will be working on immediately after. The backlog caused an urgent-vs-important conflation that led to a lot of analysis paralysis.
If something isn't important enough to stay at the top of my mind, it's not that important.
Having a rough idea of where you want to go and setting yourself a number of small wins in the right direction could help you. Get into the habit of daily small wins that you know is moving you towards your true north.
As another point, I see systems and habits referenced below. Interesting because I'm midway through Benjamin Franklin's autobiography. Here is what he did:
He worked out a set of virtues that he thought he ought to have, such as temperance, industry, silence, etc.
Using that, he then used the calender method that's proposed a lot on each virtue to instill them as habits!
I'm inclined to say he was an early self-help author but also one that has something other than success in self-help as a justification for his methods.
Complice is aimed at exactly this problem. Integrates a bunch of other productivity hacks as well, I love it.
The founder was interviewed on indie hackers recently: https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/complice
If you want to know if I had a productive day or not ask if I started my day in Complice
It doesn't try to reinvent the productivity wheel, it uses what works. Pomodoros, long term goals, tracking, weekly / monthly reviews, positive reinforcement, optional social accountability.
Plus the guy building it is always adding new things while keeping it familiar.
(Not a lot of people in it lately, but we could change that ;) )
Anyway this post isn't going to give you enough information to recommend anything highly specific, but do you have any ideas what I might have been missing?
Maybe I've just already got that kind of thing well enough sorted, but then, I'm not entirely satisfied with my current approach to self planning.
For me, this priority-setting process is really a separate domain than daily task tracking, project-level organization, and so on. As long as I do that daily review, it doesn't really matter where I keep my task breakdowns. I actually use several of those to keep tasks separated based on the project domain -- Visual Studio Online for development, Todoist for marketing, and so on.
> WHY I CREATED PANDA PLANNER
> For over five years of my life, I was hampered by Lyme Disease, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and most recently, Cancer. Each of these on their own was enough to knock me on my back and render me mostly useless, but the combination resulted in a perfect storm of depression, anxiety and inability to think clearly. Naturally this was something of a bummer!
So I have the following Cards in a Trello Board;
1. Inbox -> Things I can reasonably expect to complete in a day or less
2. In Progress -> Limited to 5 per day
3. Projects -> Working on an app? Put details in here
4. Reminders/Waiting -> I've sent a form in, waiting a response before next action
5. Some Day -> Things I would like to tackle some day (Good for reviewing long term goals)
6. Complete / Split into smaller tasks
it doesn't work very well for goals that are hard to measure but it can be applied in a lot of situations. Good luck tackling all your goals :)
I was introduced to the idea of a Painted Picture. It is a goal setting methodology that involves heavy visualization. This particular incarnation was developed by Cameron Harold, as part of his coaching activities.
It made a big impact on my life.
The gist is that you write down, in narrative form, what your day will look like exactly 3 years from now. You write in the first person form, diving into various areas of your life. It should involve as much detail as possible. Ideally, these should be very optimistic goals which you dream of, rather than safe ones you are very likely to hit. It's OK if all of them don't materialize.
On March 13, 2020, I will be sitting in my comfortable arm chair in my living room. A fire will be roaring in the fireplace, and I will be looking over my emails. The kids just left to school. My wife drove them in our BMW VJ850. She is currently at work at MegaCorp, giving a presentation to the board about the XYZ initiative, which has a huge chance of success and will give her a real chance at the CXO position.
You continue on for two pages or so, going into minute details. Talk about your kids, your home, your relationship with your friends, the kind of food you want to be eating, professional activities, health, hobbies, charitable activities, political activism, and whatever else you want to affect positively. To keep it interesting, you can talk about what just happened ("We recently returned from a two week cruise in the Bahamas") or what is coming up ("I will be spending a week with a new client doing KJI advising. This is the biggest deal I've landed thus far. They have agreed to my $2,000 per diem rate. I'm confident they will be happy with the value I provide for them.")
Dream big. Share it with your significant other, if they're in it. Encourage them to write one of their own.
How does this help with the day to day goal setting and decision making?
It's uncanny! The imagery is so vivid that it permeates my daily life. My wife and I talk about it regularly. Whenever daily decisions need to be made, the painted picture comes to mind and guides me towards my goals. When I need decide what to do today, this week, or this month, and choose between the infinite possible activities I could be doing, having this powerful visualization in the back of my mind aligns me with my goals.
We're building Jell (https://jell.com) to tackle this problem. We have 2 sets of core functionality: OKR tracking, and "checkins" which can act as a daily/weekly/monthly "standup".
You can add plans/tasks to your checkins (and mark them as complete), and link these items to your OKR's.
We've seen a lot of companies have success with our tool (many replacing daily standups with it). We'd love feedback.
Professionally, I use outlook's todos with three priority classes: some time (low, where long term goals go), soon (normal), and today (high). Each list is organized like a backlog with most important first. I also color-code them by type (coding, process improvement, personal, and delegated). I scan the list regularly, and promote, split, join, add, remove or move down items as needed.
These are not mutually exclusive.
Depends on what you mean with future. I also don't have long term goals and you could say I'm actually not scared of the future because it's impossible to know what it will be (well, only death is a certainty) so to me it is illogical to be scared of it. Or you could say I am scared of a 'known future'. Like, If I'd set a goal to finish the renovations on my house in 1 year, I'd feel somewhat uneasy because I would know there is a possibility I might get bored over a year becasue there's no more renovation work to do. At the same time though I'd realize such a goal is unrealistic at best (again, impossible to predict what you'll encounter, delays due to physical problems, ...) so I wouldn't be scared about whether the goal would be reached.
ps. In terms of timelining stuff I just make schedules in my notebook. Each line in my notebook might be a day or a week or a month depending. They usually dont last very long and I am always sketching new ones. I do tend to write and sketch a lot and draw the aforementioned timetables and also diagrams which really help me think about stuff. I try and keep that in chronological order in my notebook (rather than just be drawing on random scraps of paper), so only the last few pages are really relevant to me now but I can also go back and look at older long-term timelines.
So my 'what to do' and 'when to do' are seperate. Thats makes sense imo, as the way to do the best job would just be to work through the what to do in order and take as long as it takes. The 'when to do' is often an external artificial deadline or whatnot
If I have a goal to do X within a month and it takes me two instead, I should look back and see where the discrepancy was. Did other things come up I didn't account for, or did the process take more manhours, or was more research/training required to have competency to complete the task?
Just wrote a post about the approach that worked for me -- http://claudiu.dragulin.com/2017/03/14/how-to-align-your-dai...
- Make a list on a sheet of paper with clear, simple, manageable steps to your goal
- Have it on your desk next to you at all times
- Watch the magic happen
I also tried different tools and software-based approaches (reminders, checklists, etc) but I found that they were mostly distracting.
The simpler the solution, the better -- therefore, plain sheet of paper.
Key thing here was to always have it in front of me, next to any other todo list I may have for the day. As long as I did that, I never had to worry about updating my daily todos, or aligning them with my goal, or anything like that.
I really appreciate the visual focus of Trello as I'm a visual thinker - I really wanted to like taskwarrior and todo.txt (or just vim and a text file) but I'm just more effective with Trello. The clutter free interface and wide app availability is a real help too. There are a number of nice Stylish mods that can help tweek the experience too.
Pro tip: The tools only help solve the problem. Regular review is the only way to keep the work flowing in the direction of your goals. If you don't do this your work will be dominated by the tasks you get from others.
Some of this may seem obvious, especially to people who are already super achievers, but I've been finding it a worthwhile way to think about my behavior.
Here are some links if this sparks any interest:
The research conclusion so far is a bit convoluted. I don't know if any popular writers have run with the idea yet.
To sum up:
1. Pick who you want to be in the future (ex: a good friend),
2. Expect to encounter difficulty on the path (ex: my friend needs help moving, it's gonna suck and I'm not gonna be able to work on my project today, but I know sustaining close friendships will be hard),
3. Take actions that will be congruent with your future identity (ex: I went out of my to help my friend move to his new apartment, I did it because every day I try to take advantage of my opportunities to be a better friend)
Coincidentally, I just made my own habit tracker this week to help me in this direction too, http://everydaycheck.com in case you want to check it out...
hmm that's very bad, thanks for letting me know!
It does seem to work properly on firefox here for any screen size, would you mind sharing which FF version are you using? thanks again!
If you've recognised a pain that you solve for people and that could turn in to a viable business, waiting until you completed an arbitrary number of other tasks seems like a pointless exercise.
On the other hand, if you don't have a solution to a pain point, this might be a brilliant way to productively put off starting something you (sub)consciously know is a bad idea.
With all of this, I don't think that an idea is really important. Execution is more important. Nevertheless, I know that I will start another company someday, but I need to be sure that I regenerate my self before value a new idea or start the execution of one.
It has other productivity tools as well (pomodoro timer; habit tracker; brainstorm tool) all dedicated to your top 1-year goal.
It's called Focal Point (https://focal.pt), check out a demo dashboard here: https://focal.pt/demo
- Little Finger
Deliberately add your to-dos. Before adding a to-do (to asana / on paper) ask this question: Does this to-do get you closer to what you want to accomplish? If no, do not add it. If yes, prioritize first (no two to-dos are equal, choose the ones with the most impact) and then bucket it according to Eisenhower Decision Matrix.
As your morning routine, review your matrix to stay on track.
Looking back at what I've been doing this week, it's pretty clear what areas I've been neglecting.
Anything more than this would not get updated regularly. My time log also works like Jerry Seinfeld's Xs on the calendar; I'm motivated to put in a minimum of effort today to avoid breaking the chain.
Here's my approach: Define the goal, measure progress, complete todos.
Define the goal: I use Onenote. It's so freedom enabling (click anywhere, type) that it's perfect for jotting down all parts of your long term goals. At this stage a todo list is too rigid to record something this abstract.
A mindmap is also good but the Ctrl + E search in Onenote is the best. You'll visit this once a week or so.
Measuring progress: Again Onenote, list the months and add new checkboxes (Ctrl + 1) under each month for each subgoal you want to get accomplished. You'll visit this a couple of times a week.
Completing todos: This is where your todo app comes into play. Map your subgoals to todos and record how much time you spend on them. At the end of each week all your completed todos should see you tick some of the checkboxes in Onenote. You'll visit this as often as you're working on the goal.
For me, this is a simple but visual method of progress spread across just two pieces of software.
May I opportunistically suggest https://lanes.io as that second piece of software. It's a todo app I've built to help support this approach - timer, charts etc.
I use Evernote to keep track of list, but that's not based on any tremendous amount of research. Someone else told me that's what they use, and it's easier for me to find things there than on paper.
How to do that is different for everyone. What worked for me is the "Deep Work" method as described in this book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25744928-deep-work
NotePlan is a daily planner app based on markdown. You can
- fill a note with todos and other text for every day (just like moleskin).
- You have a calendar with an overview of all your notes.
- Store reference material, backlogs, checklists, etc in separate project notes.
- Link everything together with Markdown. Use markdown also to format your text and segment it through headers into different projects
- NotePlan pulls your data from Reminders and iCalendar events automatically into the calendar and every note.
- Everything is saved and backed-up in plain text files inside your iCloud Drive. Nothing hidden and nothing on our servers.
Learn more here: http://noteplan.co
And besides using this tool, I'm writing a lot of notes. I'm writing down everything coming to my mind. Then sorting it into project notes and finally scheduling it into days, if those are actionable. Most importantly I'm reviewing all notes each sunday, at least 2 hours. See my article here for more details: https://hackernoon.com/turn-your-todo-list-into-a-productivi...
Let me know, if you got questions, happy to answer :)
A) the next step is more important than the final goal. Always work on having a next step not for immediate work, but for what you do after finishing something.
B) Coop with others who are important to achieve your goal, who share your goal, or who have your well being as one of their goals (i.e. life partner). Have regular meetings, e.g. once a month, with that topic. Meeting to eat something with the goal as headline helps to start talking about status updates.
C) Have multiple goals. Often we get stuck at one goal, but at the same time opportunity at another goal opens. It is inefficient, but that's life. Usually we don't have to work hard to figure out multiple goals. Health, family, language learning, holidays. There are already goals in your head you may not currently think about.
The rest basically happens on its own. E.g. if your "next step" is too complicated, you can't explain it to your wife in your monthly "goal X dinner". If you can't progress with "goal X" you will automatically switch to "goal Y" out of laziness and frustration.
I have one list called Goals. These are my major long term goals that are very rarely termed complete and I use more the notes functionality to mention progress.
Then I have other lists for work, life, and personal projects.
It works pretty well though I imagine you could do the same thing with a notebook.
This, for me, greatly helps aligning daily work with long term goals. I can still get sidetracked, but usually not too much. YMMV.
Specifically, there's a daily, monthly, and yearly list, all on the same screen. So if your goal for example is to exercise, you'd be tracking things day by day, but get a monthly summary (e.g. I exercised 75% of the days I was supposed to this month).
I do have some goals in mind, but I find that tying them to time is the wrong way to go. i.e. I'd like to get back to a 2x bodyweight deadlift, but it's better to try and make 100% of my lifting sessions and complete the programs I am on than it is to worry about when exactly I will hit that goal.
So the actual todos are derived from a system that should eventually lead to that goal, rather than achieving the goals. I then evaluate my progress monthly and yearly. (did I do everything I was supposed to? Am I closer to the goal? If not, how should I change the approach?).
Q: How do you visually plan out your year and keep track?
A: I use the calendar app on my mobile phone
My issue: logging stuff in a mobile device that is really small, doesn't allow you to see big picture and serve as a constant reminder
Q: How do you visually plan out your year and keep track?
A: I use a calendar book that i purchased
My issue: the book itself doesn't give a year-long summary, it is more of a monthly/daily note jotter.
My solution: look for something i can use to place in my room and serve as a reminder of my year-long goals. It should be something that i can use every year and something i should be able to modify/remove/add as days go by (goals change, people change).
Option #1 - a real electronic device that is large enough for me to plan out my year.
Thoughts - this is not feasible. I remember back in the day when they first tried to market "Microsoft Surface". This is before they came out with the surface products, it was initially marketed as an electronic table board that was large enough and interactive enough for you to comb through many problems milennials face today (illustrating thoughts, long-term planning and design).
Option #2 - a hard surface non-electronic annual calendar that will immediately visualize my year and allow me to strategically segment my annual plans visually. So i found this product listed below, and decided that i would pin it in my room with half-inch steel top pins (these also exist) and use dry-erase markers.
* have occasional roadmap meetings with decision-makers from the department/greater org
* * discuss growth target/expectations for 1-2 years out
* assuming the growth, identify what will prevent us from hitting it
* * systems+processes that can't scale
* * long-term migration plans
* use these as long-term goals
* every quarter, look at the goals and identify something we can achieve in 3 months to get closer
* * write it down with deliverables
* * work out who is available to do the work
* do sprints/agile/etc. until the end of quarter
* come up with the 1-2 year goals
* * remember them (or write them down)
* make Trello tickets in a Some Day list for things you can do right now that get you closer to your goals
* * rank them by importance/deadline (do this whenever you feel like it)
* take one from the top and put them into a Today list
* do them
* * if something stops you, put them in a Waiting… list with a deadline & indication of who you're waiting on
* * * e.g. Open a Stock Trading Account [waiting for response] [due 3 weeks] "sent off the paperwork to trader & waiting for account details"
* move them to a Done in 2017-03 list when they're done
* * archive the list at the end of the period
edit: also not allocating time for a task to be done: tasks take as long as they need to, there's no "I will have updated my IRA investment preferences by 2017-03-14" because you'll miss those dates and then train yourself not to be worried about them (and ignore them), OR have an introspective fugue on where exactly you went wrong as a person who can't even complete a simple task that other people could do in 5 minutes what is wrong with you
Every year from Christmas I do a retrospective for all 52 weekends, my year goals, personal progress and professional progress. I try to find out where my money goes and my time as well. How Happy I was etc.
Make a year plan and print it and put it in your cube (in your home). Yes, please set up an office space in Home. It works.
Then make detailed plan for 52 weekends and weeks aligning to your yearly goals.
Now buy 1$ yearly calendar from dollarstore and fill it up. WHen I turn it each month I know what I should be doing this month. Also I align or change it with some buffer time.
Mostly I miss my deadlines, because my estimations are wrong or the new technology or programming language I am learning takes more time than I expected.
At the end I am happy that I am two steps ahead by planning compare to some one who has never planned.
Now if you ask about the results between a planner and non-planner, I don't know what to say.
For those that do cherish long term plans: don't you get fed up with the perpetual feeling of "being not quite there yet"?
At some point, like budgeting your income, planning has the effect of reducing the rat-race feel of life. I always had enough money, but once I started budgeting it, I had an abundance of it (recognized needless spending, directed my goals more effectively). Losing weight was a long-term goal for me, I got there, and then it become a long-term goal of being truly fit, not just a healthy weight but a truly healthy body, which is a lifelong commitment.
And you just winged it in college? No clue what the next semester would hold? Never selected classes because they were needed for future classes and/or graduation requirements?
They start from long term goals (they call it vision or something similar) and then break it down into smaller and smaller items which you schedule on a weekly and daily basis. This ensures that everything you do works towards a larger goal. There will be smaller interruptions and things but the overall direction is quite clear.
This has fallen by the wayside with our rather disruptive lives but there are still lessons which are useful. Larger targets (e.g year goals) can be broken down into manageable monthly targets. Then you can work towards these and make sure that you always progress towards your larger vision.
I work solo (as a freelancer and solopreneur) and I have found OKRs invaluable in aligning my weekly and daily work to my quarterly objectives (and in keeping me honest about my capacity).
Recently, after moving in this direction in a more ad hoc manner, I started using http://weekdone.com to bring some it together and streamline things (WD is built around quarterly OKRs and weekly accomplishments tied to those KRs). The process has been wonderful.
Highly recommended. I use it for creating my daily todos out of life goals (I use the template/concept of Ray Dalio's Principles (https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsd...) for this).
Also, I've written what I do to be more productive: http://lukaszkups.net/2017/01/29/In-search-of-the-Golden-Gra...
I like setting a schedule to review monthly/quarterly goals. Friday is always an alternate schedule for me, either hackday or story grooming/backlog work/paperwork etc. I review the goals, AND whether I have been even working on it, using https://takeaim.io data.
There's also a web version at heyhabit.com.
You guys even have super transparency, and iirc mention you provide it because commitment contracts would incentive you to encourage failure, and that's not what you want at all.
Compare that against e.g. Trello, which is good looking and usable, but it's kanban without queue limiting. That defeats the whole point! (I explain this in more detail here: https://gen517.com/queue-limiting-the-whole-point-of-kanban/ )
The difference between trello and beeminder (to me, at least) is that the beeminder people think about how to provide anti-akratic tools a lot, and embed their thoughts and discoveries into their product. The Trello people basically provide nice CSS for a tool so flexible it has nothing to say at all. If I want digital paper, sure, Trello is nice. If I want _actual help with something_? I'd prefer software developed by people trying to help me.
And really excellent point about queue limiting and kanban! Now I'm wondering if there's a hack or plugin or just a convention to make Trello work that way...
Or maybe the answer is Beeminder's Trello integration, to enforce limits on Trello cards. :)
Basically I wanted an app that let me quickly add and organize items into different time periods.
It is too easy (and satisfying) to prioritise 10 small urgent tasks, complete and check them off, and feel productive. But this can lead to indefinitely postponing long-term important tasks that aren't a top priority for this week on any week.
Tasks like keeping in touch with old friends and new potential clients, learning a new skill, checking that your backup-restore system works, planning a holiday, and so on.
* Urgent/Important (Fill out the kids' immunization forms for school)
* Not Urgent/Important (Call old friend)
* Urgent/Not Important (Pick up package from post office)
* Not Urgent/Not Important (Wrap up loose coins for bank)
It works surprisingly well, so long as you follow these rules:
1) You have to constantly re-evaluate. Urgent and important are two adjectives that are extremely subjective and change over time.
2) You absolutely must tackle tasks in the order above.
3) Spend a lot of attention on group two (not urgent/important). You'll be tempted to put gigantic, overwhelming tasks on there ("Learn a new skill") as opposed to something actually accomplishable ("Go through React tutorial part 1").
You really have to be honest about what "important" means to you. Especially group two (not urgent/important). Group one is usually pretty easy.
I'll deal with the hassle of my package being returned by the post office if it means I can talk to an old friend instead. You may feel differently. Be honest about it. If you find you're not accomplishing group two tasks and procrastinating on them, maybe they're not that important to you. "Call an old friend" sounds like something important, but maybe you've both moved on and the friendship really isn't that important to you anymore.
Very true! I avoided this by doing all the unimportant tasks I could as early as possible, or by ruthless prioritisation (since the person I'm cheating by focusing on busywork is me).
If you have a constant stream of urgent tasks always pushing down the important tasks, you have a workload problem & need to address that first (i.e. by hiring an assistant or reducing your obligations).
Current organization is 52 list mentioning every week and every week has 8 cards.
First 7 cards are individual days of the week, every day card includes a checklist in trello and the eight card is target for the week. Depending on the schedule 1 entry from the target card is made into a checklist item in any one of the day card.
It automates scheduling your to-do list in your Google Calendar so you're always working on your next top priority.
Don't finish it? It moves it forward in your calendar until you get it done so nothing falls through the cracks.
It helps to not worry about racing to a practical product as fast as you can. Take your time and do it right. A practical product will come with time.
Set tasks and tie them to milestones that finally achieve goals.
Any todo list supporting hierarchies can allow you to achieve this. e.g: Asana.
Then you can add more complexity like setting dependencies among tasks, adding dates, priorities, etc.
I will probably open source it in April.
Mostly because I'm the best/only person who can write software that is really for my life. It will of course integrate with many tools.
So for this year, I started thinking about a tracking and recording method that is personalised to my needs, and that includes taking account of good and bad habits. I set up a personal website which is basically a learning log/folio, where the front page displays my five learning projects in arty thumbnails. Aesthetics is really important to me so a good design that I'm proud of is one way to keep me visiting the website.
Let's say that one project is French. Now it's really important to clarify your goals further. It's completely unrealistic for me to be fluent in French by the end of this year so I set a couple of goals, such as studying Candide to the point that I can understand and internalise the meaning without looking at the English parallel text. I emphasise that this goal is only for this year, which means I can still keep going with French next year - so no need to kick myself why I can't be as good as those polyglots.
OK, so far so good, I've got some fancy projects that show to the world that I'm a keen generalist, and goals to clarify their scope. But how do you keep track of them?
Because I've come to like writing, and it's one goal to keep practicing it, I decided to link every goal to my blog. Meaning, I need to write about my findings, achievements etc and tag the post to a goal.
I created a category hashtag and placed it under each goal. So say that one project is Blender 3D and one goal is to get used to the different modelling techniques - my hashtag would be something like #blender3dmodelling. This means that I must write something about blender modelling, which means I must study it and practice it. Otherwise if someone clicks on the hashtag, it will display no posts ... and that looks a bit bad. (That 'someone' is usually me haha.)
So far this little technique has kept me more focused on my resolutions aka learning projects. But it's not enough because there's still the danger of gradual neglect - and I've reflected enough to realise why this happens. What if I have absolutely no time to study Blender 3D because of other commitments? I can see myself paralysed by guilt by July. So, for balance, I decided that every month, I will write a post that reflects the previous month, and realistically set targets for the current month. The reflective part is particularly important as it not only keeps you true to your desire to learn, you're also being honest about yourself and your current situation.
So, that's the gist of it. It's not really scientific, the way I keep tracking and motivating myself with writing and showcasing, but it works for me. But this is an example; you may find it too much or too little or just completely unsuitable. That's OK. For yourself, you need your own method, and this means a great deal of introspection to understand your needs and habits. Good luck :)
Also, I think it's hard to have goals. I prefer systems. Rather than have my primary driver be, "I want to work from someplace other than my home office 3 times each week" (I work from home), I say, "I work from places other than my office sometimes." and then work that into my schedule. That way I'm not checking a box so much as just "being" who I want to be. The externality of a goal is gone, and "Who I am" now incorporates "work from a place not in my home".
I dunno if any of this helps. It sometimes doesn't help me. It sometimes does, though.
My reflex was just to say no, because I don't think anyone hears you and offers help. On the other hand, I believe strongly in the power of thinking and visualization of goals, and isn't that a lot of what prayer is?
If you talk to yourself/think about your life, i would call it something like 'time for self reflection' or something but not prayer.
But it’s perfectly compatible with forms of Christianity that have always been widely observed, which are far more symbolic and metaphoric, and primarily focused on maintaining inner strength and compassion, similar to Buddhism or Taoism.
Jordan Peterson (University of Toronto Psychology Professor) is someone worth following for deep insights on this topic.