The 3-3-3 Method, Personal Productivity, & More
Today at a Glance
- Question: Your perfect workday.
- Quote: Choose how to bear calamities.
- Framework: The 3-3-3 Method.
- Tweet: Embracing the boring.
- Article: Guide to personal productivity.
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Question to design your life:
What does your perfect workday look like?
When I was starting to think about building my own company and professional ecosystem, a mentor asked me this question.
I had never really thought about it. I think most of us probably fall in that camp. I had generally just let the days come and go. I didn't think about what my perfect day looked like.
I answered the question with a simple exercise:
- Split a piece of paper into two halves.
- On the left side, sketch out the details of your current workday.
- On the right side, sketch out the details of your perfect workday.
- Zoom out and look at the difference between the left and the right. What tiny steps could be taken today to start making the left look more like the right?
Go through this exercise, either on paper or in your head.
What does your current workday look like? Map it out, hour by hour. What are you working on? Who are you spending time with? What are you thinking about?
What does your perfect workday look like? Again, map it out, hour by hour, asking the same questions.
There will always be a difference between the two, but the power is found in identifying that difference, and brainstorming the small, incremental steps you can take today to close that gap.
It may take weeks, months, years, or even decades, but if you develop an awareness of your perfect workday, you can slowly start to make changes to your current state to get there.
Note: As I wrote in The Passion Paradox, it's perfectly ok to let work be work. Your career does not have to be your purpose. For many of us, a job is just something that we do in order to fulfill a different purpose (example: providing for one's family). If this is the case for you, you should not feel any pressure to create a perfect workday. Simply focus on connecting yourself to your outside purpose and you'll always find the energy at work.
Quote on the power of choice:
"Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind." - Aristotle
We cannot choose the calamities we will encounter, but we can choose how we will bear them.
Framework to structure your days:
The 3-3-3 Method
The 3-3-3 Method is as follows:
- Spend 3 hours on your most important thing.
- Complete 3 shorter tasks you've been avoiding.
- Work on 3 maintenance activities to keep life in order.
The idea is that if you execute and check off these three major boxes, you've had a good day. It removes the pressure of "never enough" thinking whereby ambitious people get into bed at the end of the day and feel the stress and anxiety of saying they could have done more.
I have found this framework to be extremely helpful:
- Spending 3 focused hours on your most important thing is guaranteed to generate meaningful daily, weekly, and monthly progress.
- Completing 3 shorter tasks you've been avoiding keeps your "doom pile" from getting too large.
- Working on 3 maintenance activities allows you to make progress on other focus areas of life, like health, relationships, housekeeping, and more.
To try it for yourself, in the evening, on a blank page, write down your 3-3-3 plan for the following day:
- What is the most important thing you'll dedicate 3 hours to?
- What are the 3 small tasks you'll complete?
- What are the 3 maintenance activities you'll work on?
As you go through the day, cross each off the list. If you do it, you'll get into bed with the satisfied feeling of a day well spent.
Tweet on the boring truth:
This is SO accurate.
It's easy to get energized to push when you're working on something sexy and seeing the results and rewards.
It's much, much harder to get energized to push when everything is boring and you can't see any return on your investment.
In the long run, winners are those who embrace the boring and see it through.
Article on personal productivity:
A fascinating look into the productivity system of one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
Some of the ideas are extreme and hard to implement for us non-billionaires ("don't keep a schedule"), but many are adaptable and interesting to consider, even if on a lower level of volume.
A few I found neat:
- Keep three lists: to-do list, watch list, and later list. To-do is must do items, watch list is for follow-up items, and later list is everything else.
- Use procrastination to your advantage by doing things while you procrastinate on the big thing.
- Use a 3x5 notecard to organize your next day. I've been doing this for a few years and it is the one strategy that keeps me sane and on track with my goals.
Note: If you're interested, reply YES to this email and I'll write a full post on my simple 3x5 card productivity approach.
In Case You Missed It:
In Wednesday's issue, I wrote about a fascinating challenge issued by a Stanford business professor and what it can teach us about thinking differently.
When faced with an important challenge with the potential for non-linear rewards, follow these three steps:
- Avoid the distractions: There's always an approach that seems obvious and simple, but may be entirely wrong. Avoid falling for the trap.
- Ask foundational questions: Strip away flawed assumptions and ground yourself in foundational ones. Use Socratic Questioning to unpack the problem.
- Select the leveraged approach: Select the highest-leverage approach with the highest likelihood of success. Slow down and identify the true assets and points of leverage in the system. Use them to your advantage.
Remember: Creative, non-linear, asymmetric thinking generates creative, non-linear, asymmetric outcomes.