I’ve never been good at New Years resolutions but this year has been different. Starting the year I decided to iterate on life in a much more deliberate way. Here are the results.
I’m starting to understand how important it is to measure iterations in order to continously improve, instead of just changing things for the sake of change. Writing things down is the best way I have found to to measure change.
I’m on my sixth notebook for the year. I write notes when I get up in the morning, when I’m in meetings, when I handle email, when I’m reading, all throughout the day really.
When I sense change I can look back at my notes and see the evolution of an idea. After testing change to see if the results are better than previous results I can identify patterns in the ideas I wrote down and repeat them or discard them.
A few weeks ago I started using a calendar, like for real.
(the first one is what my calendar looked like before I started using it consistently)
The results have been dramatic. My work and life balance feels better than ever, I don’t feel like I’m dropping the ball anymore, and I rarely have to spend time thinking about what to do next.
Before I only used to schedule meetings, dates I had to be at. This barely worked, I would sometimes miss meetings, or I would get anxious because I would suddenly have the feeling I had missed a meeting (even though I hadn’t).
Now every Sunday evening I schedule the upcoming week, from 8am to 5pm every day (+-1 hour). I use Calendars 5 on my iPhone and it buzzes me 10 minutes before my next scheduled thing and I use Fantastical on the desktop.
I have trained my brain to rely on the technology, by using it consistently. My error rates and anxious moments have been reduced to almost zero.
I’m getting more done at work, I’m exercising more, and I’m spending more time relaxing. What am I spending less time doing? Spinning my wheels because I’m not sure what to do next.
A lot of people have a visceral reaction to the word “meeting”. I used to but I don’t anymore. Every day I set aside time to meet with people. These meetings range from standups to work lunches to video calls to catch up with remote coworkers.
As our company has grown I’ve come to realize how important it is to be deliberate about spending time with people and not just shipping code. Without connecting it is easy to quickly become lost.
Every week I do at least one working lunch, I spend at least one hour on a video conference with a remote coworker, and I attend at least one planning meeting (whether it’s for my team or a team we interact with).
Staying connected to coworkers has improved my mental health 10X as well as improving my value to the company by being able to connect people and ideas.
Figure out how you are spending your time (maybe write it down?) and then look for things to change. Try using tools and doing things you think suck (calendars and meetings oh my!). Measure the results. Do it all over again.
- Writing things down is a lesson I have learned before and forgotten. Why is it that good habits are so much harder to practice than bad ones?
- I’m writing this during my scheduled time off today :)
- I’m also deliberate about meeting with people outside of my immediate circle, inside and outside of work.
- I realize some people will laugh at me for just now starting to use a calendar, but I think I’ve just now grown out of my 20’s “I enjoy chaos more than order” lifestyle.