New Task System Wows

This week the unstoppable course has left a mark of reflection yet again… Only in a very unexpected way…

Ever feel that your system of staying organized was good and that you were on top of your to-do list? I did. I thought I had a pretty good system and that I was very responsive to the things that I had to get done. Rarely would I let something fall through the cracks and quite often I would be thanked by colleagues and family members for getting things done and in a relatively timely manner. I really thought I had a decent system.

I thought wrong…

Through the last couple of weeks I have been challenged to write out my goals, my to-do items and basically do a brain dump of everything going on in my head. Ever do this? If not, try it… It is very liberating. When I did what I found is that I was barely scratching the surface with the lists and inboxes that I kept in trying to stay on task. What I also realized is that I was very NOT in control of my task lists.

Let’s start with a picture of my old system.

My old system had multiple pieces that would float in and out as time allotted and as my mind remembered to use them. The key medium were my email inboxes, a to-do list application on my mobile device and written to-dos I would put on either post-it notes or a whiteboard. Quite often the email inboxes would take precedence followed by the phone and then paper. Occasionally if I knew something was super important I would use the post-it first. With this system I thought I had control because I knew all the places to look for items to do. I knew to look in my email, then this email and my app and then paper. I thought I had control. WHOOPS!

In just a nice of sitting down in front of Nozbe, an application I am asked to test run as part of Unstoppable I realized how bad I had become. My lists covered upwards of 20 some projects and over 66 tasks I wrote down. As I started breaking things into projects I started adding smaller more focused tasks. I have not come near completion of my lists but what I can tell you is that I owe some people a world of apologies. I was putting things off and not focusing on projects that mattered to me because I thought they took too much effort and the tasks were too big. I felt I didn’t have time to work on this or that because well, to get that done I had to do 5 things. Well sure, but what if I did item 1 now, 2 in a day or two and 3 and 4 over the weekend.

Once I started writing out the tasks I had to do I lost my sense of control with my old system. I don’t know that I feel control yet with this this new system but I can tell you that I know I need to get control and once I do I think that I can get even more done. The challenge is getting out of my head and into something I can see. One place to rule them all and to see a complete list of tasks and items. I don’t know if Nozbe will be my answer but I will definitely be finding out now that I see the multiple approach really had me out of control and at the mercy of the lists.

Goals with a Purpose

So as the Unstoppable course continues, this week I have been asked to list a set of short term and long term goals directly correlating to my purpose statement. A purpose statement is a description of what you feel your purpose is in like. My purpose statement is:

Change the world one line of code at a time sharing my journey and experiences along the way.

This statement is ultimately is what I see my purpose to be. Having this statement in mind and setting goals, my goals should help progress me towards this purpose. Provides a certain level of focus. Also setting these goals I want to be able to see and imagine how they are going to get me closer to this purpose. With all of that said I have a few short term goals and a few long term.

Short Term Goals:
1. Read the book Introduction to Neural Networks for Java and code the examples within the 2016 calendar year.
2. Read the book the Pragmatic Programmer and share thoughts in a blog post within the next 3 months.
3. Write my own scheduling software for the 2016 ALYBF season
4. Complete the Chinese Remainder Theorem in NesC and post code to GitHub and update the report I wrote for my Masters by the end of December 2016
5. Create and publish a screencast by the end of 2016
6. Complete all of the How to Program in Java podcast in the next 4 months.

Long Term Goals:
1. Become a conference and event speaker on any development topics I can share expertise in within 3 years.
2. Write a document/paper/book on Git Workflows in the next 5 years
3. Create and implement an inventory system for the ALYBF to use within the next 3 years
4. Host an “Hour of Code” event at a school for kids within the next 3-5 years
5. Get to a place where I am coding at least 10 hours a week every week in the next 2-3 years.

With these goals I see myself more fully filtering out the clutter and focusing on what matters to me more. I have long been distracted by “noise” and used it as an excuse to not get the thins I want to accomplish done. I imagine myself having a well polished blog and appealing social media presence through this effort. I can see having more details about my project and even code available for some of them. The only thing I really see holding me back from this is the “noise”. That is something I certainly need to work on.

In achieving these goals I believe I have to keep my health in mind too. Thus I have a the following goals for my health:

Short Term:
1. Run a 7:30 mile in the 2016 calendar year.

Long Term:
1. Run 750 miles in a calendar year within the next 5-7 years.
2. Run 13.1 miles continuously in a workout in the next 2-3 years.

Overall, these goals don’t seem to fit the purpose statement well at all, so what gives??? well, if I am not health conscious and trying to stay healthy I won’t have the energy and motivation to work hard. I am not trying for a layup. I want to take the long three pointer and to do that I need to continue my physical activity and in some ways continue to challenge myself and keep health a top priority.

Goal Setting

So in this week’s episode of Unstoppable we were asked to set our goals for the next one, two or however many years we could see our goals stretching. This was modeled after the podcast for Goal Setting for Beginners. After watching this podcast and reviewing some of the other resources presented I started writing my goals down. Quickly knocking out the first dozen I moved on to the next and then the next and then it hit me, when was the last time I wrote out some goals?!? Sure I have done goal setting on annual reviews for jobs I have had where management wants you to set your own goal. Even then, though, I would just write things I knew were coming in the next year. I actually couldn’t remember I time I have really written down any goals for myself and followed that as a plan. The funnier part is I have had goal setting conversations with my wife, kids and other family and friends and yet I don’t do this…

Now saying I don’t do this doesn’t mean I haven’t gone after goals and achieved desired results. I can think of a few times I have envisioned a goal, had the drive to pursue¬†it and ultimately did achieve the goal. I can remember doing this even in grade school. I just never wrote anything down or tried to hold myself accountable for the goals. Instead I viewed the goals as something that would happen if they were meant to be and now something to strive to achieve.

Goal setting should be about the excitement of: What am I going to do next? What means enough to you that you want to devote time, energy and pursue it until you have achieved it? What direction do you want to take with your life or even just an aspect of your life and how are you going to feel a sense of accomplishment when you get there?

Having finally written my own goals I see I have nearly 40 already. Now I am not pursuing all of these today but now I can prioritize and plan for achieving great things in the next year, two years or even throughout the rest of my life. I have set goals that will bring a sense of achievement but also joy to my life. This is something I can’t encourage enough young people to do (I can’t believe I just said young people, when did I get that old?). Goal setting should be a part of life not an exercise done for a class.

Now for my goals, I am going to keep most to myself as they are my goals. To give an idea of some of them I have provided some generalization for those looking for ideas:

  • I want to follow up on promises to complete certain projects
  • I want to travel and see a few sights
  • I want to continue to improve my running speed and stamina
  • I want to continue to improve my skill in baseball
  • I want to contribute to the communities both professionally and personally.

Within each of these categories are several goals that fulfill these desires. For someone looking to set their own goals I advise you to listen to the linked podcast and find what SMARTER goals are in store for you. Write them down, prioritize and begin achieving goals with a purpose and direction in mind.