You Say You Want a Resolution?

You know those New Year’s resolutions you came up with? The ones you wrote down in that apparently important place? The ones you felt so smug sharing with your significant others telling yourself that you were doing that so that they could help keep you accountable? The ones with such nebulous goals as “Lose weight”, “Travel More” and “Be a better friend”? The ones you will most likely never think about after the first week of January?
Well, I hate to break it to you but they are as worthless as a glass of tap water in a fresh water mountain spring.
Oh I know you had good intentions when you wrote them. You really do mean to try to kind of, well, you know, DO them. Well, you can’t. Not as they are right now. They mean nothing because they are not tangible, actionable, regularly reviewed and evaluated parts of a process. Let’s make them mean something. Let’s take the first one as an example…
Lose Weight

  • First off, how much weight do you want to lose in a year or so? How about 10 pounds? That is a very realistic and achievable goal right? Take that goal and make it a part of the 30,000 ft. section of your vertical map. This level is ideally suited for 12 to 18 Month goals and objectives.
  • Now, let’s break that down a bit. How are we going to get there? Probably by eating healthy and regular daily exercise. OK, put that down at the 20,000 ft level which is for personal lifestyle checklist stuff and is reviewed monthly. But first, let’s rephrase it to have meaning and purpose:

Lose 10 pounds through healthy eating and regular exercise.

  • Now we need a project. A 10,000 ft., action driven plan to get you down about a pound a month. OK, start listing out the steps you need to do to make this a reality. Maybe you can start by “Call health club for membership pricing”. Next you can “Buy membership to health club”. Then you can “Make appointment with personal trainer”. Maybe even “Research diet plans”… You get the idea. Decide all of the things it will take for you to get your flabby arse down to the club and part of a regular workout. Review this weekly.
  • Now that you have a plan, put the rubber to the runway. Take the first item on that list (or the next one that you can take immediate tangible action on) and put it on your Next Action list.
  • The bottom line of all of this is that resolutions belong either:

    a) As part of a real, actionable, tangible system that is reviewed regularly and maps vertically into your overall life goals.
    b) Parked on your someday/maybe list, which is also reviewed regularly and the items therein are evaluated for inclusion into a real, actionable, tangible system that is reviewed regularly and maps vertically into your overall life goals.

    Then and only then will your resolutions hold any weight worth sharing with the world. Then you know it is going to be… alright.

    A New Year

    The end of this year pretty well sucked for Princess Bethany and I. Bethany’s mother, Queen Mary Lou – Ruler of Big House and Pool, passed away on Christmas day after a two year fight against colon cancer. She went into the hospital on the 12th and Bethany and I knew fairly soon that she would not be coming out. We spent the several days leading up to Christmas holding a round the clock vigil by her side. A very slow, painful, protracted goodbye. We only had occasional breaks to run home and take a shower. The one day we tried to go Christmas shopping it quickly turned into “funeral shopping” going store to store to help find Bethany a black dress. The days following her passing were spent preparing for an informal gathering at her house. We really wanted to make sure to get friends and family together before the close of the year so that 2007 would not begin on a sad note.
    During times like these, GTD goes out the window. My only next action has been being at Bethany’s side doing all I can to help with any task I can. My only project has been trying to keep her from imploding despite her having every reason to do so. Someday, maybe things will get back to “normal” and she will not cry herself to sleep every night.
    This is not too say that 2006 has not had it’s many ups as well. I mean, the best day of my life was on June 15th, 2006. The traffic to my humble little section of the web has grown significantly thanks to being featured on 43 Folders and elsewhere. Heck, some of my personal web heros such as Chris Messina and Jason Fried have commented on posts. How cool is that?
    But that is all behind us now. The holiday breaks are coming to an end. For many of us that means back to the grinds of work and life and back to the struggle of dealing with even more “stuff”. In my next series of posts, I aim to help with that. For now, have a good time, drink some good drink and let all that stuff rest. It will all be there tomorrow.

    Remainders 12.27.2006

    DIY Planner has a great starter guide for those interested in getting into fountain pens. I have always been tempted into getting one of these. The temptation has been especially recently as I have made a personal goal to do more journal writing. I actually had to close my browser and walk away from my computer today to keep my money from being sucked in this close to Christmas… In any case, it is an excellent post and earned a spot in my Yojimbo.
    Great post on procrastination on the Tasty research blog. Here is a quote… “Why do people procrastinate? This is an effect psychologists attribute to “hyperbolic time discounting”: the immediate rewards are disproportionally more compelling than the greater delayed costs. In other words, Procrastination itself is the reward.“ So, how do people beat it? ”people are aware of their own procrastination and give themselves earlier deadlines to counter it. “ Good stuff. (via Paul Cone).
    Been a while since I’ve seen some good ol’ Moleskine hackery but Santa must have handed out some little black books to well deserving GTD boys and girls this year. Easton Bond post his method involving Post It Tabs and some sharpies. Anabubla has some mighty purdy printable sheets you can stick in your Moleskine to get your GTD on. People are even taking beautiful photos of their wonderful black books.

    Remainders 12.20.2006

    While there are a million GTD apps out there these days, Actiontastic is really starting to stand out from the rest. While it wont switch me away from my system, it is clean, simple and very easy to pick up and start using. His latest release notes are worth a read as it makes it very clear on how to use the application and the basic principles of GTD. If you are looking for a good mac based GTD tool then you should check it out. (via Hawk Wings)
    According to Giles at O’Reilly, the next version of Hog Bay Software’s full screen writing application WriteRoom will include the ability to use WriteRoom to edit text in any Cocoa-based application. According to Giles “That means that any form field in Safari can be edited, in glorious full-screen simplicity, using WriteRoom. Nice for posting to weblogs, but also pretty nice for composing and replying to messages in Gmail.” (via MacDevCenter)
    Digg recently went through a radical redesign and I think it looks great. They have also added a bunch of new features. Kevin Rose outlines many of them in a video here.

    Short Term Personal Savior: Henry Rollins

    Every so often someone inspires me in such a way that I designate them my Short Term Personal Savior. There are many ways one can receive this special designation. It could be through a lesson I have learned from them, a way that they are living life that is inspirational or that they are just plain badass.
    Today’s Short Term Personal Savior is Henry Rollins. Here is why:
    * As lead singer of the groundbreaking Black Flag or his namesake Rollins Band, he has recorded some of the most intelligent and aggressive punk the world has ever known.
    * He is a gifted author and spoken work artist.
    * His social commentary rants are pure poetry. He rails against the establishment with the fervor of a drunk punk in the middle of a mosh pit. Take this video clip “America is under attack” for example or his “Love Letter to Ann Coulter” (Warning: Both NSFW).
    You may not agree with his politics or like his music but one can’t deny that he is just plain badass. Therefore, he is well worthy of being one of my Short Term Personal Saviors.

    Remainders 12.14.2006

    Web Worker Daily has been running some good open thread posts as of late. Today’s is no exception – “What do you rely on most, besides technology?”. Not surprisingly for the audience at hand, coffee is mentioned several times.
    Derek Jones of Koru Productions has an excellent outline of how he uses Apple’s Mail.app to get his GTD Org-Fu on. It it rock solid and takes you step by step through his process of reaching inbox zen. (via Hawk Wings)

    Lists of My Father

    My father, Kenneth, was in town recently. He lives in Washington DC currently but comes here regularly, mainly to help my grandmother Grace with ious household and administrative tasks. That being said, he always makes a great effort to also spend quality time with me, my wife and my sons as much as possible. I love my Dad. I consider him one of the closest people I have in my life. Due to the distance, I don’t get as much time with him as I would like but the time we share is always filled with love and means the world to us both. This particular trip was shorter than his usual ones. He had very many tasks to pack into that short amount of time. I knew ahead of time that I probably would only get to see him for an hour or two. The reasons for which I fully understood.
    He stopped by our place the night before he was set to leave for home. We hung out for a little while, had some wine and “shot the breeze” as we normally do. Then, as he was wrapping up to leave he thought of another thing he needed to take care of before he got on the plane. He pulled out a sheet of legal style paper filled with other actions he had previously written and it immediately caught my attention.
    He has a great system of to-do list making! Simple but highly effective. I peppered him with questions about it.
    He described that he basically lists an action verb in the margin (left of the line) and the task in the main section (right of the line). He pointed out that beginning each task on a to-do list with a physical action verb is crucial for completion (i.e. Buy Milk, Call Bob, etc.). In addition, separating these verbs using the red margin line on a legal pad allows for easy scanning for related tasks and easy grouping into contexts. In other words, if he is at his computer he will pull out his list and be able to easily pick out all the ones that begin with “E-mail”.
    For someone who is not a member of the GTD cult I have to admire how much he has the stuff nailed.The fact that he can do this using almost any old pad of paper is thrifty, ubiquitous and further proof that it is not about GTD per se or the “right” tools, it is about finding a system that you trust. It is also another sign that this apple, despite the physical distance, has never strayed far from the org-fu of the tree.
    Thanks, Dad.

    Remainders 12.06.2006

    Quaffability is a great new blog about wine. You know you have to love a wine blog who’s tag line is “mostly wine – mostly under – mostly from Trader Joes”. (via Princess Bethany)
    Business Week has a good article on the Best Buy Headquarter’s radical work redesign. They call it ROWE, which stands for “results-only work environment”. Here is the most interesting part… “It wasn’t imposed from the top down. It began as a covert guerrilla action that spread virally and eventually became a revolution. So secret was the operation that Chief Executive Brad Anderson only learned the details two years after it began transforming his company”.
    Wordie is a new site that is kind of like Flickr but for words. Hear or read a cool word that you would like to keep track of and remember later. Wordie will help you do that. Every time I try to dismiss the usefulness of such a thing in my head I come up with a situation I could see myself using this for. (via TechCrunch)

    Yojimbo GTD

    Tim at Hawk Wings beat me to the punch as I was going to post about this. Recently, there was an excellent write up on the Yojimbo mailing list by user Robert Foxworthington on implementing a GTD system in Yojimbo using a combination of collections and tags. Great example of how, with a little outside the box thinking, you can implement a GTD system using almost any tool. The reason: It is not about the tool it is about having a system that you trust.

    Parallels has Windows 0wn3d

    OK, this changes the game quite a bit. According to a screencast on Michael Verdi’s blog, the next version of Parallels, the PC Virtualization software for Intel based Macs, will apparently allow you to run PC apps side by side with your Mac apps. Not the “Windows inside of a window” we have all been forced to use until now. Not only that but you will also be able to use the same key commands in the Windows apps for copy and paste and such as you do on the Mac. Also, you will also be able to seamlessly copy and paste between PC and Mac apps. You have to watch the screencast – This is huge!
    Furthermore, Apple has gone on the record once again throwing their support behind Parallels in a recent analyst meeting as they are “very pleased with Parallels software and didn’t feel the need to compete with its own version of embedded virtualization”.
    (via Ethan and OS News)