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Excellent advice for someone like me that is an "Overplanner". (I'd rather over-plan something than actually do it.) I have to admit that I had to restart the book three times and really read what he was saying. The writing is not the best and it is full of repetition, but it was worth it to finish the book to the end. I'd say it is one of those "Ah ha!" books with simple ideas you will use the rest of your life--even though you thought you were going about your life and projects the correct way. This is a book I would recommend to any person--it's not just about work, it's about how you go about your life. Excellent ideas. I would also recommend reading the David Allen "Getting Things Done" series as a companion to this book. With The Agile Way and "GTD" systems, I have achieved more this month than I have in the past year!
If you compare JD's methods to many others, the biggest thing that jumped out for me was the simplicity of JD's methods. His methods are so simple that really anyone can start using them today -- which means you'll start seeing incremental results fast. I also enjoyed how quickly JD gets down to business -- you won't find filler text or have to navigate several chapters first like you see in other books. Even if you take just one thing out of this book (I recommend the "Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflection" if you had to pick just one) you will see results.
So it boils down to this: Anyone can want to get results, but if you want to see them actualized then get this book.
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First off, the one dread about taking time off is knowing you'll need to dig yourself out of emails and catching up on projects. I was able to read this awesome book while on vacation and surprisely, by just applying a few key steps even just in the beginning of the book, it really made a difference in the week that I came back. I was more motivated because I identified my 'power hours' and the times of day that I'm more focused without scheduling meetings on top of those. I set clearer boundaries for work and life, so even though I was catching up, I wasn't cramming in so much that my personal life was suffering (keeping the balance and not taking extra from another priority). This book came at just the right time for me. Not only do I know how to approach busy weeks systematically but thoroughly, I'm more accomplished and feel complete in my final deliveries. You can't get more time in the day, but at least you can use your time wisely without letting it fly away.
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This book is very fractal. It introduces a concept and then circles back to it a couple times in increasing depth. It's a logical structure, but you end up feeling like you've read everything a couple times. Perhaps this is better for readers who skim.
My other overall comment is that most productivity systems written out of software make me resentful because they assume that my home-life schedule is something that can be managed. I think I speak for a lot of working parents when I say that my schedule is something that I manage the same way surfers manage waves.
Useful concepts I will take from this book: Outcomes, not activities. You don't want to be doing something, you want a finished product to show for your work. Write your tasks to reflect that. Fix time, flex scope. You have the time you have. Instead of changing that, change how much you are trying to get done in that time. Use your vision of the end result to drive your motivation and self-analysis. Don't wait for inspiration. Even uninspired work is more useful than nothing. Pretend to think like someone else to work your way through problems you are stuck on. Pick problem-solving heroes and ask yourself what they would do in a similar situation. Work from an abundance mentality. Instead of assuming there is only so much of anything to go around, ask yourself how you could make more. Growth feels awkward.
Things I could have lived without: I thought that even for the structure of the book, there was a lot of repetition. I found the emphasis on exercise and diet pretty ableist. Not everyone can "work out to maintain their health". I was completely vexed by the assumption that emotional work was a knowable obligation.Read more ›
This is one of those rare books that both explains a concept well and provides an extremely actionable system to actually put the ideas in action.
Let me take a step back - 'Agile' is a framework used for product development. The goal is to develop the product iteratively, incrementally, and in a time-boxed fashion. Work gets done in 2 week sprints with 'just enough' analysis, as opposed to attempting to plan everything out up-front.
What the JD Meier does in this book is present a simple way to translate this system into a personal workflow management technique.
Here are the very basics: -At the beginning of your week (or 'sprint') plan out your key intended outcomes. You should try to bite off only what you can fit into your timeboxed sprint (in my case I like to plan 2 weeks at a time). As you do this more, you'll get better at estimating what you can bite off. Write these key intended outcomes / goals on a list. -At the beginning of each day, pick a couple things to work on, that map directly to your weekly (or 'sprint' goals). These should come directly from what you mapped out already. -At the end of the week (or sprint) evaluate how you performed. Ask yourself, what you can do to improve for next time.
The system is simple. The beauty of it is that as work comes in, you can store it in a 'backlog' and feed it into your system based on priority. The author also recommends to do a monthly and yearly review with higher level goals, and recommends categorizing tasks by different areas in life (i.e. family / relationships, work, recreation, etc).Read more ›
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