Category Archives: Self Improvement

The three pillars of personal effectiveness – a reading I liked…

At any given time you should be motivated through the feeling that what you are doing right now is the most important thing you can think of, that your mind is stress-less and fully focused and you know your effort will be valuable. – Troels Richter

I came across an interesting minibook on InfoQ site. According to the author Troels Richter in his mini book “The 3 Pillars of Personal Effectiveness”, to become more effective you should keep in mind the below three pillars:

  1. Importance
  2. Focus
  3. Value

Do go through the book. Here’s what I pulled out from all that in a nutshell:

Invest time to Think. Use non-linear thinking techniques such as Mind mapping to brainstorm all activities that you think are important to achieving the desired outcome. Once the important activities have been identified, we need to prioritize them. Often, it is useful to track all activities that you are currently performing. Although this requires discipline, it does help to weigh these against the identified important activities. Slowly it becomes clear which activities to swap for more important ones. While prioritizing, it makes sense to factor in your personal goals and visualize how these could be realized while performing the activities. As the prioritized activities also involve working up on your personal goals, pay special attention to respecting your prioritization over others need of your time. Prepare a plan to act on the important activities and resolve to maintain focus while doing so.

Use a tool/technique to help you focus, such as the Pomodoro technique . Re-define your success criteria to mean – accomplishment … as the maximization of daily focussed time. While learning to focus, it is important to also learn how to handle external interruptions as well as internal interruptions (procrastinations). One exercise to better understand procrastination, is to write down whatever it is that distracts you during focussed time whenever it occurs and continue working. Later you can try to find out the root cause of what caused the distraction. It makes good sense to take some time out to plan each day by thinking ahead of what needs to be accomplished for the day. Having an overall view of the workflow involved helps to ensure that the right activities are attended to.

In the end what matters is the value added as a result of the effort you have expended. A technique called Personal Kanban helps to visualize your workflow. You can practice Kaizen to bring improvements to your workflow and Heijunka to optimize your workflow. The emphasis is on continuous analysis of the stages of work in progress. The work in progress has three minimal stages – Doing, Waiting and Evaluation. Doing stage activities works well when timed and focussed using the Pomodoro technique – thus working in small iterations with a sustainable pace. For Evaluation stage, for every task that’s completed, one should reflect on whether that task added value and whether any more tasks are needed to be done before that activity could be considered as DONE. The rationale for limiting work in progress is on following through on started activities rather than starting new work which goes on to build up the backlog of even more items that are work in progress. The “boxing in” of activities into stages helps to identify where you are adding value, where value is not being added, where time is being wasted and helps to understand where effort results in value addition. It also helps to perform Heijunka, thereby attempting to reach the optimal level of work items in each stage. Using a tool such as a Kanban board along with a mind map tool and pomodoro timer can help you to use your time more effectively and become personally more effective.

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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Self Improvement


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