Real life Agile or how to become more productive and reach your goals

When asked for the key to their success, business people give credits to their day planning habits. Everyone on Earth have the same amount of hours within a day, but only few use it effectively and efficiently enough to achieve their goals (and are aware that it is important to have goals). 

Today I would like to introduce Katerina Lengold to you.

Katerina has studied in a half-dozen universities (including harvard and MIT) and has degrees in computer science, innovation, economics, and business., establish her own company in the age of 20m sell it and become the youngest vice president in the aero-spatial industry. 

She’s just 25. 

The secret

Kate explains her success with her time management abilities and practices. She does not make a secret of her approach and has even shared the pages of her planner and explained how to use it. With a video tutorial on her Facebook page. The planner file is available openly under the link to Kate’s Dropbox. Below you can read a summary of her video.

Right goal setting

Kate puts a lot of attention on planning her time and setting the right goals and following the right vector.

Time constraints

A year should be divided into shorter periods - the so-called “sprints” (an analogue to the agile approach). The sprint lengths is 9 weeks.

 

Setup your goals

Such a period is enough to commit something significant and progress noticeably. One the other hand it is short enough to give one a sense of urgency. We would feel the “deadline” pressure from the very beginning of a sprint, and this feeling would not let us relax. When people set a year-long goals, they tend to postpone their actions. 

Goals

A special page is dedicated to sprint goals planning. A sprint can include up to three goals. 

Main goals for the sprint

It might be too difficult on focus on a bigger number of them and achieve success. Three would not let one distract too much. The goals should be very specific and measurable. If our goal is to master a foreign language, then we should define what would “master” mean: learning a word o two or learning a new grammar tense.

The importance of the goal

One should clearly understand why a particular goal is important. It happens quite often that we set a goal, but do not truly understand, why we need to achieve it. Try to explain, how the achievement would contribute to our success and happiness. 

Why the goals are important to you?

Rewarding

We should design a reward for ourselves. Describe it in details and write it down in the planner. How you would spend your time after reaching a goal: shop a specific item, make a party or travel? 

 

Evaluation

As soon as a sprint is over, we have to evaluate the progress. Has a goal been achieved or not? What have we learned within a sprint? what could be done better? Such a summary would help us to understand our strengths and define areas to be improve in future.

Measure your results

Habits

Habits are building blocks of our personality. In fact, we consist of a huge number of tiny everyday habits like drinking 8 cups of water a day or doing morning exercise routine. Every sprint allows us to form and exercise up to 5 new habits. Two months would be enough to get used to them. A planner has a block for habit tracking. 

Track the habits

Every day we can mark a habit as followed or skipped. In this way we would be seeing whether we are consistent enough. 

 

Daily journal

Many psychologists say that reflexion is an important part of a personality’s development. However, not everyone has enough time for a detailed analysis every day. A planner has a space dedicated to everyday notes. Several lines would be enough for one or two sentences on the most important events, findings and discoveries. Note your main day achievement and tell, whom and what for you are grateful to.

Track day-to-day results with journal

Watch your day-to-day progress. Emphasising the gratefulness makes us happier, teaches us to value what we have and those who surround us. 

 

Everyday planning

This is probably the most interesting part of a journal. Again, it starts with three goals. These are the most important tasks we have to complete today. A to-do list may contain 10, 20 or even more goals for a particular day, but many of them may be easily postponed for later with almost no consequences. Concentrate on a kind of tasks, which, if completed, would make you feel proud. 

Choose the most important tasks

Devote two or three hours of your morning time to them - turn off the Internet and the sound of your mobile phone and let yourself concentrate.

Pomodoro technique

In order to manage daily workload, Kate recommends using a Pomodoro technique, which defines certain time periods dedicated to working and resting. Keep concentrated on our task for 25 minutes and do not let anything distract us, while the following 5 minutes we may do whatever we want. This approach is very effective in fighting procrastination.

 

The diagram of the day

 

The diagram helps us to understand, how we have spent our day. Every square means an hour, and we mark each with a sign which means the activity which occupied the most of this hour. 

Prepare diagram of the day

A simple dot means sleep. 

A small circle means rest, but not any kind of rest - only a conscious, positive one, which helps us gain strength, energy, become healthier and happier. 

V-signs means work.

An “x” means procrastination. 

Be fair! Such a table mirrors our daytime activity. It helps us to identify our most productive hours and some periods, when we tend to have concentration problems, understand our energy peaks. 

 

The most important tasks should be done during such peaks. For the most of us it is the first half of the day, some might be bursting in the second. Understanding your personal energy cycle is important for our day planning, especially when we have to deal with complex things.