I work in a complex, high stress environment with a lot of moving parts as I’m sure many of you do too. Everybody needs to do more with less. There’s always more to do than there are hours in a day. There’s always information overload. It’s super competitive and everybody works hard to get better just to keep up.
I wanted to create a system that would help me rise above the noise, do less to achieve more, and get an extreme advantage in terms of personal productivity. I wanted to combine and integrate the best practices for personal productivity, time management, motivation, positive psychology, and project management into a super system for getting results.
I wanted the system to be simple, holistic, easy to use, easy to start, and easy to get back on, whenever I fall off the system.
That’s how Agile Results was born (the system I share inside of my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.)
The Agile Results System in a Nutshell
Agile Results is a simple system for meaningful results. I’ll summarize it briefly so you can first understand what it is, and then you can use it to improve your productivity by leaps and bounds.
Here are the three keys to Agile Results:
1. Three Wins – Identify Three Wins for your day, your week, your month, and your year. By focusing on Three Wins, you focus on fun and you focus on value. You can even turn mundane tasks into compelling outcomes. For example don’t just call back your customer, win a raving fan.
2. Monday Vision, Daily Wins, and Friday Reflection – This is the heart of the system. It’s a pattern for weekly results. On Mondays, identify Three Wins for the week. Each day, identify Three Wins for that day. On Friday, identify three things going well and three things to improve. Your Friday Reflection helps you get better and better every week.
3. Hot Spots – Think of your life like a heat map and the Hot Spots represent key areas of pain or opportunity. By investing in your Hot Spots, you get more return on investment. For example, some life Hot Spots are Mind, Body, Emotions, Career, Financial, Relationships, and Fun. If you invest in these areas, you get synergy and build momentum (the categories support each other.)
There is a lot more to Agile Results, such as Power Hours and Creative Hours, Timeboxing, Work Things First, 30 Day Sprints, Compelling “Why”, etc., but I want to first focus on just the basics.
Don’t let the simplicity fool you. I’ve used this system to lead distributed teams around the world on million dollar projects, and yet my Mom uses it for simple projects around the house. It’s really better ways for better days. Businesses large and small have been using Agile Results to bootstrap innovation efforts, improve their productivity, and build momentum around making things happen.
Those are the basics. Keep reading and I’ll show you how to put the process into action so you can start getting results.
How To Get Started with Agile Results
The simplest way to start using Agile Results is to ask yourself the following question and write your answer on paper:
“What are Three Wins or Three Outcomes or Three Results that I want out of today?”
It’s not about listing all your tasks. You already likely have an overwhelming list of things to do, or things you want to get done. This is about up leveling it and taking the balcony view. For example, your Three Wins for today might be:
1. Draft complete on my project plan
2. Desk cleared and ready for anything
3. Great breakfast
I always throw in the example of “Great Breakfast” because it’s a reminder that some days, the best thing we can do is have a great meal and recharge. I also put in the example of “Draft complete” to point out that reaching a meaningful milestone is a great way to chart out your progress. By the way, did you know that a sense of progress is one of the biggest factors for happiness in life? Your ability to chunk things down into little wins will add up in more ways than one. You’ll be more productive AND life will be sweeter. You’ll also get better at tackling bigger challenges. After all, how do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Using Agile Results for Extreme Productivity
Just by starting your day with Three Wins, you’ll instantly improve your productivity. How? By choosing the most important things to work on, and by creating focus. Throughout the day, you can remind yourself of your Three Wins that you are trying to accomplish. And, what you focus on expands. You’ll suddenly be more resourceful in how you get results.
Additionally, by using the Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection pattern, you’ll have a smarter week. Clarity creates concentrated power. You’ll no longer be fumbling around wondering what your Next Best Thing to Do is. You’ll have a simple map, right before your eyes.
Three Ways to Exponentially Improve Your Productivity
I want to share three additional ways you can achieve extreme productivity:
1. Worst Things First – The idea here is to tackle your biggest challenge first. Everything after that will be a glide path. Use your best energy to nail the toughest part of your week or your day. This also helps you avoid having things loom over your head.
2. Power Hours – We all have our times in the day when we are at our best. If you pay attention for a week, you’ll notice that at certain times in the day, you will feel on fire. You will be way more productive. Contrast that with 3:00 PM where for many people this is “siesta time” or time for a coffee break. I’ve found that my best Power Hours tend to be 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 4:00 PM. I guard those hours whenever I can, and I use them to get my unfair advantage. I can literally get several hours worth of work done in a single Power Hour. Never underestimate the power of energy. You can’t get more time in a day, but you can put more energy into the hours of your day. Energy is your ultimate catalyst.
3. Play to Your Strengths – If energy is your catalyst, then your strengths are your force multiplier. First get clear on your strengths. Maybe you are great at starting, but not so great at finishing. Maybe you are an ideas person, but not much of a doer. Maybe you are great at big picture thinking, but not so great at the details. Figure out what your strengths are and find more ways to inject your strengths into your tasks. Add your personal twist.
Now you have the foundation. On the next page I’ll show you how to tie it all together. Keep reading because there is a bonus tip for you to use.
If you can, try to get rid of as many of the tasks and activities that regularly bog you down or that you don’t have strengths or passion for. A creative way to do this is Pair Up with others. Find somebody who loves to do, what you hate to do. For example. I was OK at doing budgets, but they wore me down. A friend of mine was a whiz with managing complex budgets. She was more than happy to show me her tips and tricks and next thing you know, not only did I get much better, but it actually turned into a strength. People love to share what they’re great at. Find the people who are great at what you need , and see if you can swap tasks, or at least learn ways to do things better, faster, and cheaper.
Any one of these tips will help you get exponential results, but when you do combine them, it’s better together. You can easily spin circles around others when you master these basics, and you get the power of energy, focus, motivation, time management, and extreme productivity on your side.
Here’s a powerful tip to really help you take your productivity game to the next level. It’s 30 Day Focus Sprints. The way it works is you pick one thing to really focus on throughout the month. You effectively pick a theme for the month. For example, let’s say this month, you want your theme to be “House in Order.” For the entire month, do a little something each day to help you clean things up, get organized, and simplify. The results will be outstanding, because your little actions each day of the month will compound. It’s concentrated effort applied with a specific focus.
30 Day Focus Sprints are especially powerful because they let you get a fresh start each month. Each month, you turn the page, and can choose a new focus (or repeat a focus.) Throughout the year, every month is a new chance to learn and explore a new topic.
It becomes your most powerful way to really go deep on something, and expand what you’re capable of.
Here’s why 30 Day Focus Sprints work. First, your little wins start to add up. Along the way, you’ll find breakthroughs, and you’ll build better habits. Second, because you are doing this longer than two weeks, things really start to sink in more deeply. Third, because you try something small each day, you give yourself the chance to experiment and explore new ways of doing things. It’s these experiments that help you do things you haven’t done before, and find ways to do things better than you’ve ever done before.
And, the beauty is that if things go wrong, each day is another chance at bat.
Written on 7/5/2013 by J.D Meier. J.D. Meier is author of Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life and blogs on personal development and productivity at Sources of Insight. For free, self-paced training on Agile Results, check out 30 Days of Getting Results
Photo Credit: Justin See
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