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Author Topic: GETTING ORGANIZED EXPERIMENT - WEEK NINE ASSIGNMENT  (Read 15132 times)
mouser
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« on: November 07, 2006, 11:39:02 PM »


GOE: THE GREAT DONATIONCODER.COM 2006
GETTING ORGANIZED EXPERIMENT
- WEEK NINE -


STEPHEN COVEY - FIRST THINGS FIRST

Text and Assignment Written by momonan

The deadline for this assignment is November 14.


Week NINE Assignment: Practice the Techniques of Stephen Covey

NOTE: This week’s assignments appear at the end of this post.



We have explored several methods for getting things done, from making TODO lists (Allen) to closed lists and putting everything else off until tomorrow (Forster), to clearing out the riff raff and breaking jobs into simple, repeatable pieces (FlyLady).  Several times, though, we have heard this question from forum members: “Yes, but now that I know how do get things done, how do I decide what I should be doing?”  This brings us nicely into the work of Stephen Covey, famed author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and co-author, with A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill, of “First Things First”.

The book is 12 years old, but is especially dear to me, since I followed these principles shortly after it came out, and what I developed has really guided me in all my activities since then.  Here is a brief summary.  In the next week or so, I’ll try to give some more concrete examples and another assignment.  See the end for this week’s assignment.


1.  First Things First (FTF)

FTF is what might be called a principle-centered approach.  Rather than providing a clock, it provides a compass to help us do what’s deeply important to us.  The compass represents our vision, values, principles, direction - what we feel is important and how we want to lead our lives.  As Covey puts it: “Efficiency is getting more done in less time.  But what if we’re speeding down the coast of California, making good time, when the place we are trying to get to is New York City.  It’s efficient, but not effective.”


2.  How Much Can You Put In A Jar?

Covey tells the story of an instructor who pulled out a large jar and began to put fist-sized rocks into it.  When he was finished, he asked his students if the jar was full.  They all said “yes.”  He then pulled out a bucket of gravel, dumped it in, and shook the jar until the gravel went in all the little spaces left by the big rocks.  He asked them again if the jar was full.  By this time, they were on to him and said "probably not."

The instructor next started dumping sand into the jar, and it went in all the little spaces left by the rocks and gravel. Once more, he asked if the jar was full.  Lastly, he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it into the jar.

When he was finished, he asked "Well, what's the point?"  One of the students said what we may have said, ourselves: “If you really work at it, you can always fit more into your life."  "No," he said, "that's not the point. The point is this: if you hadn't put these big rocks in first, you would never have gotten any of them in."


3.  Decide What’s Important

So, we see that doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the rights things.  And we see that doing the small things first may not allow us to ever get to the big things, the big picture.  Covey argues that many people are addicted to urgency and that relying on “to do” lists essentially keeps us focused on prioritizing and doing the urgent, at the expense of the important things that contribute to our overall objectives and meaning of life.  Urgency and efficiency take the place of importance and effectiveness.

Covey argues for prioritizing according to the importance of things. So how do we do that?


4.  The Main Thing is to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

Covey urges that we set aside 30 minutes a week to improve the quality of our lives, based on our own guiding principles.

Step one.  Create a mission statement.  What do you want to do in your life and upon what principles.  This will help you set goals, make decisions and determine the way you spend your time.  Then you can schedule activities and appointments that are aligned with your purpose.  Think of your self as a non-profit organization with an overriding mission.  It could be something like this: “My mission is to lead a balanced life, to act with integrity, and to improve the circumstances of those less fortunate,” or “My mission is to provide the best method for solving the problem of _____________.”

Step two.  Identify the roles that you play in your life.  Some examples would husband/wife, parent, mother/father, friend, employer/employee, community member.  No more than seven.

Step three: Identify four fundamental areas of your life: physical (vibrant health, exercise, good diet), social (development of key relationships), mental (keep current in our field, learning, growing), and spiritual (what’s important and meaningful, helping others, living for something higher than “self”).  Don’t neglect any of the areas.

Step four.  Identify the most important thing to do in each of these areas this week.  As a parent, it might be to spend some one-on-one time with your child.  As a spouse, it might be to go on a date with your husband or wife.  A job-related goal might be coaching a peer, working on something with the boss.  Your own development might be planning a personal retreat or working on a mission statement.

For now, limit yourself to the one or two goals that are most important.  Maybe don’t set goals in every role each week.

Write down your goals next to each role.  You can even keeping a “perhaps” list of things in each goal that you might want to do.  Whenever you get an idea, just write it down.  No anxiety or distraction.  You can look it over during weekly organizing, keep it for future reconsideration, or discard it as not really important

Step five.  Make an action plan for each goal.  Don’t prioritize your schedule; schedule your priorities.  Put the big rocks in first.


5.  Organize Your Weeks And Days Around Your Goals

How many of us make our “to do” list entirely of things we have to do that are work related?  Or project related?  Or concern chores we have to do? 

How many of us decide first what is the most important thing in our lives and make sure we purposely plan to do something in that area.  Using the FTF principles will not eliminate your to do lists.  It should, though, cause you to stop short and make conscious decisions about what is really important to be doing.

Spend more time in preparation, planning, values clarification and less time in busywork, time wasters, escape activities and excessive TV or computer surfing.  Don’t spend every moment of the day with time-sensitive appointments.  Don’t set a schedule, but create a framework in which quality decisions based on importance can be made on a moment-to-moment basis.

Set weekly goals.  At the beginning of the week, look at each role, then ask: what are the one or two most important things I could do in this role this week that would have the greatest positive impact?

Plan your day.  Preview the day.  Get you bearings.  Check your compass.  Are you still pointing toward doing things that fit into your mission and goals?  If you make a “to do” list, highlight or circle the things that are highest priority – in terms of your mission and goals.  Maybe you want to list time-sensitive activities on the left and activities that can be done at any time on the right.  Continually ask: “Is this the best use of my time right now?”

Evaluate at the end of the week.  Review your mission statement to begin organizing the next week.  Before you do that, though, pause and ask such questions as:

  • What goals did I achieve?  Which goals did I not achieve?
  • What kept me from achievement?
  • What decisions did I make?
  • In making decisions, did I keep first things first?
  • What principles did I apply, or fail to apply?  What was the effect?
  • How much time was spent in unproductive, and unrewarding, activities?
  • What can I learn from the week?

Evaluate the week as part of a greater whole, looking for patterns of success or failure in setting and achieving goals, so you can make corrections.   Look for things that keep getting in the way of accomplishing your goals.


6.  Keep Your Focus

As you review your week, here’s a little mantra to keep you focused:
  • Connect to my mission
  • Review roles
  • Identify my goals
  • Organize the week
  • Carry out my plan with integrity
  • Evaluate


7. Assignment:
  • Develop a mission statement for your life (“My mission in life is to ..........”)
  • Write down at least two primary goals you have for yourself (“I reach out to friends”; “I am a creative and competent programer”; “I eat healthy food”; etc.)
  • Determine what roles you play in your world (mother/father, parent, employer, etc.)
  • Write down the four fundamental areas of life that are in section 4
  • Think of one thing you can do (in one of your roles) this week in each of the four areas.
  • Evaluate at the end of the week.


GOOD LUCK AND LET US KNOW HOW YOU DO!
-momonan
« Last Edit: November 08, 2006, 03:22:08 PM by mouser » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2006, 11:42:17 PM »

You can show your support for the write up by donating to momonan, who wrote the above week 9 post.

You might also want to consider donating to dallee who did the posts for the last two weeks, if you haven't yet.
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nudone
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2006, 02:35:19 AM »

fantastic.
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app103
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2006, 03:44:51 AM »

Ok...I am out.

This section of the forum is off limits to me from now on.

But I leave with one final list...the most important one I have ever made.


Anything else I do is just filler in between.
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momonan
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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2006, 07:49:36 AM »

@app103 (even though I know you won't return here to read it tongue):  Your zen-like agenga says it all. Cool  Makes me wonder why I spent so much time spinning my wheels.  We can probably all tear up our well-intentioned lists and go straight to yours.  When we finish this project, I suggest we distill it all down to app103's agenda list.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2006, 07:54:31 AM by momonan » Logged

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app103
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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2006, 09:10:52 AM »

@app103 (even though I know you won't return here to read it tongue):  Your zen-like agenga says it all. Cool  Makes me wonder why I spent so much time spinning my wheels.  We can probably all tear up our well-intentioned lists and go straight to yours.  When we finish this project, I suggest we distill it all down to app103's agenda list.

I came back here because you begged me to.   Grin

I have to respond to this...

This whole GOE project came at a bad time in my life...I have a lot on my mind. I can't focus on the things I want to focus on and get anything done.

GOE isn't helping me any and it's just making me feel bad about myself for not making any progress, which I don't need right now.

I am going to concentrate on fixing some other things for now...then maybe think about time management when I can better handle it.

If the whole GOE project has helped you, stick with it...keep going. Don't throw away good habits. Just don't lose sight of what is important either.

I think our goal in life should be the pursuit of happiness...not the pursuit of getting more done.

So now I will go pursue happiness...and get things done later when I can smile while doing it and it can mean something.
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nudone
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2006, 09:58:06 AM »

most important thing i've learnt from this experiment - and the only tip/technique that i use is this (from one of Forster's books)...

if you are walking around with that sense of dread, trying to put something off, trying to ignore it or find other tasks to replace it - just stop and get on with it.

there's nothing that can kill that sense of anguish or anxiety other than just getting on with the thing you are avoiding. i admit, it might take me a couple of days or so before i actually carry out this advice myself - but that is part of it - steam for a bit then just get on with the job before the pressure reaches to high.

i guess, that is of no help either - depends on what you are putting off and how much longer you are going to let the pressure build.


(yep, i don't use any other time-management techniques - everything else just happens naturally after doing the above.)
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mouser
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« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2006, 11:02:03 AM »

well i've had a much more positive and helpful experience with the GOE then app and nudone it seems;

this assignment comes at a good time though i can't admit i'm looking forward to it as it feels "uncomfortable" to me. it does address one of the issues i have though, as i'm doing a great job of tracking all my tasks and working through them, but i really do need to look up from the minutia of daily tasks and make sure i'm heading in a good direction..  thumbs up
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tomos
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« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2006, 02:05:07 PM »

Thanks momonan
got to go *study* that  smiley

think we might need more than a week though for:
"a mission statement for you life"

it is what I've been wanting to look at though,
so it's great to get the assignment read
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Tom
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« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2006, 06:25:32 PM »

A few thoughts:

Achieving one's life goals is more important than completing a bunch of tasks, but sometimes it's simply impossible to work towards these goals without getting other things out of the way. In my case, clutter is the pervasive obstacle, and I realized I could not simultaneously attack it and work on the major goals. Therefore I am deliberately postponing other objectives and devoting much of my energy to simplifying my life and getting rid of things as a means toward an end . While I am a great procrastinator, in this case I don't view it as procrastination but as the only way I'll ever be able to tackle the important things. Obviously I can't let this phase go on forever.

I've never really liked or understood the way My Life Organized orders one's to-do list, as goals are always placed above urgent tasks. In the FTF context, however, this makes sense, as your goals are always staring you in the face. It may make sense to limit goals in MLO to truly major goals, and define what one might normally consider goals (finish report this week, etc.) as tasks.

This last item is probably more relevant to previous weeks than to this one, but one tool I've been using is a bit of defunct freeware called Subliminal Messages 3.0. Subliminal messages are basically malarkey, but one can use the program to place conscious, supraliminal (don't know if that's a word, but liminal beans barely perceptible) reminders at regular intervals. In my case I've pared the messages to two: "Am I doing what I should be doing?" and "You can't organize clutter; you can only get rid of it."

SM is no longer distributed but can be downloaded here (hosted by DC): http://www.securepc.us/downloads.

I hope someone finds this useful.


* Subliminal Messages snapshot.jpg (27.89 KB, 945x112 - viewed 541 times.)

* Subliminal Messages settings snapshot.jpg (48.61 KB, 581x405 - viewed 529 times.)
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nudone
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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2006, 02:24:01 AM »

interesting idea, longrun.

please let us know how you get on with the subliminal messages. i know it will be hard to determine their effect but your subjective judgement will be interesting to hear.
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longrun
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« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2006, 02:04:08 PM »

Actually, since I don't use the messages subliminally (they're on-screen for about 5 seconds) it's easy to tell if they're working. When the screen says "Am I doing what I should be doing" there are three possibilities: Yes, which is great; No, but the reminder gets me back on track; and No, and I go on wasting time.
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tomos
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« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2006, 02:01:03 AM »

momonan,
think I need a bit of help here!

Quote
Step three: Identify four fundamental areas of your life: physical (vibrant health, exercise, good diet), social (development of key relationships), mental (keep current in our field, learning, growing), and spiritual (what’s important and meaningful, helping others, living for something higher than “self”).  Don’t neglect any of the areas.
* are you saying these are the fundamental areas (physical, etc) & we identify the important aspects within these areas, or do we identify our own fundamnetal areas ?   or something else ?!

Quote
Step four.  Identify the most important thing to do in each of these areas this week.  As a parent, it might be to spend some one-on-one time with your child.  As a spouse, it might be to go on a date with your husband or wife.  A job-related goal might be coaching a peer, working on something with the boss.  Your own development might be planning a personal retreat or working on a mission statement.
this seems to relate the goals to the roles chosen.
I'm still not sure where/how the "four fundamental areas of your life" come in to play ..
Quote
Write down the four fundamental areas of life that are in section 4
Think of one thing you can do (in one of your roles) this week in each of the four areas.
Okay, think i have it now! But question above* still valid

I'm a bit confused about the sequence of things but that's not a big deal.
I've listed my life roles,
I find the mission statement & the primary goals are needing a bit of thought in order to "evolve" (it's just so BIG!) but thats okay, -
& I find its already having a good influence in terms of I'm getting more creative projects back on the burner.
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« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2006, 07:08:32 AM »

@Tomos   In answer to your question about the fundamental areas covered in step three of the assignment:  According to Covey, there ARE four fundamental areas of human fulfillment (based on his reading of classic, philosophical, and inspirational literature).   His shorthand phrase for them is "live, love, learn, leave a legacy."  The need to live is physical (food, clothing, economic well-being, health).  The need to love is social (relate to other people, belong, be loved).  The need to learn is our mental need (to learn, develop, grow individually).  And the need to leave a legacy is what he calls -- although I don't love that term for it -- our spiritual need (in the sense of to be inspired, have a sense of meaning, purpose, help others, making a contribution).  So that's why we say "Don't neglect any of these areas."

I guess one way to look at these fundamental principles is as beacons for living a balance life.  They should guide your mission statement, inform your goals, and infuse your activities.  Each time we look over our TODO list for the day/week, or review and evaluate the past activities, we should ask ourselves if we have advanced ALL FOUR fundamental areas of our lives -- or are we out of balance by focusing on only one or two, at the expense of the others.

I apologize for the inartful way I organized the assignment, but hope this helps. It helped me, at least, since I don't think I really understood it either.embarassed  I'm glad you asked the question
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« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2006, 12:18:44 PM »

Quote
"live, love, learn, leave a legacy."
perfect!

Quote from: momonan
I guess one way to look at these fundamental principles is as beacons for living a balance life.  They should guide your mission statement, inform your goals, and infuse your activities.  Each time we look over our TODO list for the day/week, or review and evaluate the past activities, we should ask ourselves if we have advanced ALL FOUR fundamental areas of our lives -- or are we out of balance by focusing on only one or two, at the expense of the others.
thats very helpful,
things are a lot clearer now  smiley

P.S. no apologies accepted - cause none needed!  tongue
Who was it said - the best way to really learn something is to learn it & then to teach it!
Thanks again for your help, I'm finding this one very inspiring.
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« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2006, 12:52:53 PM »

Thanks momoman, very nice assignment, and good writing.
There is research somewhere (I think I read something in "never eat alone" by Ferrazi) showing that people who write down their goals and bring them up often are more likely to achieve them.

I think Covey fits nicely with all the other time mangament systems
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« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2006, 12:33:50 PM »

Step two.  Identify the roles that you play in your life.  Some examples would husband/wife, parent, mother/father, friend, employer/employee, community member.  No more than seven.
Step three: Identify four fundamental areas of your life: physical (vibrant health, exercise, good diet), social (development of key relationships), mental (keep current in our field, learning, growing), and spiritual (what’s important and meaningful, helping others, living for something higher than “self”).  Don’t neglect any of the areas.
Step four.  Identify the most important thing to do in each of these areas this week.  As a parent, it might be to spend some one-on-one time with your child.  As a spouse, it might be to go on a date with your husband or wife.  A job-related goal might be coaching a peer, working on something with the boss.  Your own development might be planning a personal retreat or working on a mission statement.

How do the four areas go together with the seven roles?
Does every role have these four areas?

Need some help with this here, please!
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momonan
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« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2006, 07:58:53 PM »

@MonkeyMind.  I admit I was a little confused myself.  The way I understand it now is that there are these four fundamental principles, and we should be sure to keep them in mind when deciding how to act or thinking about our plans for the day/week/year/lifetime.  They should guide us in making our mission statement and in establishing our goals.  Our roles are just who we are in relation to others and to the world.  They are the way we play out our goals.  I think the point is that we should set goals that cover all four areas and not concentrate on only one or two, at the expense of the others.

I will be exploring this a little big more in the week to come, along with another assignment.  Maybe it will become clear then (to me, as well cheesy).  I welcome any other interpretations.
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