Productivity can get lost in the haze of doing. We often mistake the furious completion of many tasks in short order as an example of accomplishment. Proudly, we mark it ‘done’ and then triumph in our ability to execute so well.
But productivity that counts means getting key things done effectively. Always striving after the low hanging fruit yields many trees in need of further, incomplete harvest.
Agile rekindled the power of the time-boxed effort for teams. Through an iteration we discover a game of sorts, an artificial finish line. By the team committing to some set of work within that iteration there’s a bond of ownership and determination to complete.
While agile does this on a team level, the application is just as effective on a personal productivity level. KTTW ( Key Things This Week ) is an example of this.
How does it work?
Friday Before You Leave Work:
Make a list of the key things you need to complete next week. You define ‘key things’ by answering these questions:
- By completing this task this week will I move my project, team, company forward significantly? Will it make a difference?
- If I don’t complete this task next week what’s the worst that would happen?
- Will completing this task move me closer to success?
Key things should answer yes to question number 1. Each key thing should move your project, your life, or your company forward in some significant way. I’m not suggesting you should complete a 6 month project in a week, but the question focuses you on what will make a difference versus what’s just keeping you floating along.
Question two validates in the opposite way. If you never actually complete this task…what would happen? Would you be let go? If so…better do it. If it’s low value work that can get done later…then save it for when you’ve completed the key things for the week. Then you can knock out a handful of these low hanging fruit, and you won’t feel like you’re avoiding the 1000 pound white shark in the room.
In the last question you define success. Notice, I’m not asking if it gets you closer to done. Who cares if you’re done. Lots of people get ‘done’, but how successful is their completion? What matters is success. Here’s where being effective comes in to play. It’s not about just being efficient, it’s about getting the right things done to achieve success. Your answer to this question should be ‘yes’ if it’s a key thing.
When you start up work on Monday…. break out your list and start tackling your KTTWs. Your commitment should be to getting this list done by Friday irrespective of your other work. Commit to this no matter what. What order? Doesn’t matter. How much time should you devote to each key thing? You decide. Should I use a tool to track them? If you want.
KTTW is a light, time-boxed personal productivity tool. I’ve used it effectively for many years, and can attest to it’s power in consistently focusing my mind, and effort to what truly needs to be completed to achieve success while at the same time weeding out the nonsense which clutters my day.