Monday, August 6, 2007

Goals and Projects

In the past, I've read multiple books about time management and organization. Among them, it seems that two that seem more popular and better than the rest. They are "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey and "Getting Things Done" by David Allen.

Each one has a completely different approach to planning. Seven Habits advocates "Begin with the end in mind." Think about what you want people you care about to say about you at your funeral (as morbid as that sounds) and figure out what it would take to make that happen. The things that would make this happen are what you should focus on every day and then everything else fits in around it. This would include things like being the best husband possible to your wife, leaving the world a better place, etc. etc.

The GTD approach to planning is anything that requires more than one action is a project. Every project goes on a list, and then you break it up into actions, and then you do the things on your list.

I'd read GTD twice and I really like the idea but I had one issue with the project planning way of going about things. It seemed to me that if you follow this method, you end up having a bunch of projects and will spend your life just doing stuff that probably won't matter.

Then I borrowed a copy of the "Getting Things Done - Fast" audio program (no longer available) and realized I'd completely missed one thing and missed most of one other thing.

First off - the thing I missed most of. GTD advocates planning on different levels. There is the "runway level" (projects like go get the car fixed, fix the plumbing, etc) all the way up to the "50,000 feet level" that is find your life purpose and make it happen. To have a successful life, you need to operate on all levels.

And the thing I completely missed when I read the book. David Allen says that one of the first steps in planning a project is to define what the project will look like if it is wildly successful and also how to know if the project is done.

If you think about it, this sounds like a goal to me! A goal is a defined outcome. I want to be debt free by Christmas, I want to get my weight down to 180 pounds, I want to drive X amount of traffic to this blog, etc, etc. These are what many people would call goals.

Now to turn any of those goals into a project, just figure out what steps you would need to accomplish to make this happen.