INTERNAL SCORECARD #5
This is the fifth week of me publishing an internal scorecard. Last week, we discussed aiming for a 70% hit rate on short-term goals, and gearing down if you missed to focus on fundamentals.
This week was a transition from that, with a lot of things to accomplish before transiting, but nothing particularly too crazy.
ON TRANSITING RELATIVELY QUICKLY
It's basically unavoidable that if you're traveling at a fast pace, you lose productive days to "travel days." You also potentially accumulate fatigue and jet lag, even if you're a veteran traveler.
This is compensated by (1) inspiration and having your perspective shift, and (2) if you're traveling for a specific reason, then for the benefits you're getting.
Because of that, I try not to travel at a fast pace unless it's to meet people or do things. But, my travel schedule has required a lot of movement lately between different cities, so I need to accept whole days where it's not possible to get into a normal routine.
Another tricky part is that a travel day probably isn't the same as a true day off, where you just go out to nature, relax by the harbor, or otherwise do something you really enjoy outside of work. So if you're an achievement-oriented person and you note that a number of days will be full of travel, it can be tempting to count those as days off and not schedule any true downtime... while this can work in the short-term, a decent amount of downtime so that you don't get into fatigue-mode is crucial for anyone to do a lot of things.
HOW THIS WEEK WAS PLANNED
Two components. First, planning around the calendar, similar to last week --
9 Nonprofit formalities, onboard new volunteers
10 Edit writing piece, Inbox zero
11 Prep for Meditations
12 Lots of calls
14 Dentist, bank, transit to NYC.
15 Socialize, plan, day off.
Second, I had a few initiatives to keep in mind --
I'd been running at a fairly high pace, and I wanted to get a lot down while cycled down in this week, knowing that the next 2-3 would potentially be intense. I explicitly noted down to make time for sleep, and to not worry too much if a single non-crucial errand or action didn't get done.
ASIDE -- SETTING UP MURDEROUSLY HARD DAYS AND FREE DAYS
Your mileage may vary, so do what works for you... but I've found good results from setting up murderously hard days with activity after activity, and completely empty days where I can work on planning and high-focus creative work.
That's Wednesday June 12th in a nutshell -- I had 11 hours of calls spread across 13 hours that day. (I napped 90 minutes out of that two hours, and read the other 30 minutes.)
I like that, though -- I had only one call on Tuesday the 11th, and none on Thursday the 13th. Meaning, those days I could devote long blocks of uninterrupted time.
It's similar to Paul Graham's Essay on the Maker's Schedule vs. the Manager's Schedule. I try to alternate between them, since both are vital to success.
THIS WEEK'S INITIATIVE RESULTS
The June 10th activities -- editing writing and Inbox Zero -- didn't happen. Everything else for the week did, along with a lot of other errands, good conversations, planning, pushing projects forwards, getting new GGW deals in the pipeline, and so on.
Once I missed the editing and email from June 10th, I didn't push it. I was focused on getting enough sleep to pay off a sleep debt, getting naps, and I spent a good amount of time down by the harbor reading, and in a cafe sketching out some plans.
It's hard to put a success% on a week like that, but it was solid overall.
CURRENTLY READING --
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: I read the first five books of it, and had a discussion with two friends. It's excellent, and there's some immediately actionable points.
Principles by Ray Dalio (pdf): I wanted to do some planning, so I opened it up and went slowly through it. I've written extensively about Dalio; it's recommended, as always.
DALIO OF THE WEEK --
An excerpt from Principles, and some brief analysis on it:
"Weaknesses Don’t Matter if You Find Solutions
To repeat, the best advice I can give you is to ask yourself what you want, then ask ‘what is true,’ and then ask yourself ‘what should be done about it.’ If you honestly ask and answer these questions you will move much faster towards what you want to get out of life than if you don’t!
Most importantly, ask yourself what is your biggest weakness that stands in the way of what you want.
As I mentioned before, everyone has weaknesses. The main difference between unsuccessful and successful people is that unsuccessful people don’t find and address them, and successful people do.
It is difficult to see one’s own blind spots for two reasons:
1) Most people don’t go looking for their weaknesses because of “ego barriers”—they find having weaknesses painful because society has taught them that having weaknesses is bad. As I said early on, I believe that we would have a radically more effective and much happier society if we taught the truth, which is that everyone has weaknesses, and knowing about them and how to deal with them is how people learn and succeed.
2) Having a weakness is like missing a sense—if you can’t visualize what it is, it’s hard to perceive not having it.
For these two reasons, having people show you what you are missing can be painful, though its essential for your progress. When you encounter that pain, try to remember that you can get what you want out of life if you can open-mindedly reflect, with the help of others, on what is standing in your way and then deal with it." -- Principles, page 35
Brief Analysis: We've all got weaknesses, and it can take a long time to come to terms with them. You need to learn about yourself and make honest assessments of where you're strong and where you fall down.
I'll say it again -- this isn't easy and can take a long time to figure out.
But it's crucial. Spending time brainstorming, even explicitly writing down your weaknesses can go a long way. Then, you can decide to plan around them, make them irrelevant to your projects and choices, or get stronger in those areas.
CONCLUDING THOUGHT -- THE CHALLENGE OF PLANNING DURING HIGH-ACTION PERIODS
I've always believed your systems should serve you; you don't serve them. As your life and circumstances change, you'll want to refresh old methods you used for tracking, planning, project management, organization, or whatever. This could mean canceling something that's no longer paying huge gains (detailed expense tracking or tracking what you eat, if these areas are firmly under control), or changing things to see if you can get extra productivity.
The real challenge is when a system isn't consciously abandoned or replaced, but when it falls by the wayside during a busy period. This leads to a potential gap in an area where you were making improvements, and "falling off the wagon" so to speak.
To illustrate, I transited to NY on Friday, and Saturday was a massively action-packed day with a long-term colleague and friend of mine. We covered tons of ground, really paradigm-shaking stuff, from the minute I woke up until exhaustion late at night.
We did some planning for the week, but I didn't do this internal scorecard like I normally would. Sunday was likewise busy and productive/profitable, but again, no scorecard written.
It's now being written up on Tuesday, leaving some of the details hazier in my mind, and getting away from this format. It's actually fine for productivity's sake for this particular week, because so much action is naturally packed into it. But there's a danger that, after things lighten up, I'm left without a productive system that's started to serve me well.
This is a challenge many people have when in high-action periods, traveling, or other disruptions of normal routine. They're in "head down work mode" and so don't "head up thinking time" or otherwise neglect their nutrition, fitness, morning routines, planning, or whatever else.
Inevitably, you realize months later that you were off your systems, and you're curious why -- because you remember how productive (or healthier, or whatever) you were on them. You kick yourself a little, get back on them, and get gains.
This is something I've come to learn over time -- consistency is key, far mores than short bursts of action. I don't have a particular great solution to systems and routines breaking during high-action periods, but I have started to be aware of it and look for it when it happens.
Your thoughts in the comments?
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