Account – Let’s Start the Day

To get the right things done, choosing what to ignore is as important as choosing where to focus.
– Peter Bregman (from 18 Minutes)


This post is inspired by a conversation I had last week with a friend. He mentioned how he was feeling stressed about keeping tabs on all the many projects and associated tasks among those project. (Amen brother! – not to mention managing and wrangling whatever the human-to-human interactions are like – right!?)

In this post, I re-share my accountability approaches as a solo-practitioner, which are essentially those times when I can sit-with-myself and reflect on my activities and pursuits.

Granted, I am not yet in full-blown projects/tasks mode in the conventional sense, but I do have my share of activities for restarting my environmental management consulting business, creating anthrocubeology, being an improviser, and aging gracefully and happily.

While I am continuing to create what’s next after leaving a traditional work environment, there are a few keep-it-organized-enough practices that serve as my foundation –

Anchor Day (or Moment) – self-reflection time
3-3-What-What-One-Two – accountability time
18 Minutes – “6-Box To-Do List” time

– all of which I continue to adapt as I pursue my new endeavors.

Anchor Day to Anchor Moment

One of the practices I shared in an earlier post – Anchor – Calendar Clean-Up Welcomes Uncertainty – continues to be something I am adapting. This is like giving a BIG, WARM HUG or a WAKE-UP / SLAP ON THE WRIST for all I am doing. You will see in that earlier post the references to Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings and this quote –

“Uncertainty is where things happen.
It is where the opportunities —
for success, for happiness, for really living
— are waiting.”
– Martha Nussbaum

Uncertainty. Since quitting my job and during my what’s-next-discovery phase, my weekend anchor day has slipped. But that is okay with me, because now I have “anchor moments” instead. My sit-with-myself morning is mixed in partly with my 3-3-What-What … – a kind of accountability buddy thing. I find that having an anchor moment before a 3-3 chat is comparable to my anchor day – although I still look to have a portion of a weekend morning dedicated to self-reflection. What I like about my anchor moments is I take the time to reflect on and enjoy uncertainty.

Starting a Day with 18 Minutes

18 minindex
on Amazon over here

One of the other practices I had in cubeopolis was based on 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman. (I do not recall how I came across this – perhaps a lifehack tip.) Bregman shares that this book was a result of his Harvard Business Review (HBR) blog post – An 18 Minute Plan for Managing Your Day – because of the many comments he received. Bregman shared his “ritual” in the HBR post of three steps that are based on an 8-hour workday. Below are only tidbits I have pulled from his blog post, therefore, do head over to the post for the specifics that Bregman shares.

STEP 1: (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day.
Write down what, when, and where you want to get things done – those things that will further your goals, have you feeling productive at end of the day, with the hardest and most important things at beginning of the day, while considering your schedule/calendar.

STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus.
Manage your day hourly, check your plan of the day, how you spent your last hour, recommit how you are going to use the next hour. “Don’t let the hours manage you.”

STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review.
Revisit your plan that you set out for the day. Evaluate what worked and didn’t work. “What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?”

On his site, Bregman includes free resources, which are reminders for crafting your daily to-do (aka 6-Box To-Do List, with 5 annual focus areas and “other” representing remaining 5% of time) and a suggested method for one’s self-check ins to keep one on-track.

My 18 Minutes in Former Cubeopolis

06-25 18 min exampleWhen I practiced 18 Minutes during my traditional workspace morning time, I chose my “6-Box” to represent my performance appraisal categories; I had three performance appraisal categories, therefore, I considered each as an “Annual Focus” area.

For the remaining two boxes (e.g., annual focus areas), I included professional development and personal development endeavors. My remaining sixth box of “other 5%” is what I considered from GTD’s 6 Horizons of Focus as my 50,000 level, e.g., doing those activities that allow me to consider my 50,000 level horizon considerations.

Every morning, I would look at my 6-Box To-Do List that was posted in my line of sight from my office chair. My first 5 minutes were spent considering what I would do for the day. Ultimately, I would list them out in my grid-lined work journal.

As an example in the grid-lined image , on June 25, 2013, I listed 7 items for the day. (I know from looking at this list that these 7 items address 2 of my 3 performance categories and one of my professional development categories.) Throughout the day, if I pursued and/or completed the item, I would check it off my to-do. In this case, 4 of the 7 items were addressed. Also, throughout the day, my tasks and on-the-ground activities would be listed, as well – providing me with an opportunity each hour to refine, edit, reconsider my daily endeavors.

My 18 Minutes Evolving

What do I do now? Right now, I am testing and using the following categories for my 6-Box To-Do List –

Anthrocubeology (A|CUBE)– Those activities related to applied improv, coaching, speaking, consulting, and workshops exploring and creating workspace cultural shifts and engaging servant-leader philosophies
Resource Catalysts (R|CAT) – Those activities related to air quality and environmental management consulting for energy projects and environmental communications
Behavior Design / Tiny Habits® – Those activities related to consulting (based on Behavior Design learnings) and to my one-on-one  Tiny Habits® Certified Coaching activities
Improv – Those improv activities including performing, training, learning, and watching shows – basically adding to my improv inventory
Global Niche – Those activities related to promoting, supporting and growing the Global Niche community and to facilitating peer-to-peer study groups taking the self-paced, on-line course – Achieve Your Potential Online with the GlobalNiche Method where you can learn about it over here in this Medium article, which has a coupon for taking the course for FREE
Awareness – Those activities for heightened self-awareness about choices I make for such things as wellness, healthy mindset development, meaningful interactions, community building

For me, these the areas that encompass how I move through my days – what I do, why I do it, etc.

Change happens. Time is finite (enough).
With 168 hours in a week, can you create space for 18 minute per day to focus and refocus? When you make choices of what to focus on (or not to focus on), how do you choose so that you also are ready for uncertainty?

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