Getting Results the Agile Way by J.D. Meier

Rating: 8/10

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High-Level Thoughts

This was one of the first productivity books that really changed how I thought about life and work. I'd highly recommend it for anyone looking for a more robust productivity system.

Summary Notes

An agile life is one that can easily respond to change. Where you’re not overly constrained by rigid planning, but can rather adapt and get things done in a way that fits your goals and the constant randomness of life.

Don’t set static rigid goals, keep testing and adjusting as you go.

Always have a bias for action.

Don’t focus on just burning down your backlog, focus on how much value you can create. Sometimes the backlog is best left unfinished.

Don’t keep trying to fix your weaknesses, play to your strengths instead.

Time management is less important than energy management. Spend your best energy on your most important work, and everything else will follow.

The key isn’t to have some huge long term plan, but to rather know the next vital few things you need to do to hit the goal you want to accomplish.

Don’t base your day on what you didn’t get done in the past. Base it on what you want to accomplish now, what will have the biggest impact now.

Set a weekly reflection for what went well, what didn’t, what you got done, what you want to do in the future.

Taking action is the best cure for analysis paralysis.

Know what you care about most, your “hot spots” in personal life and work life. Prioritize those over everything else, see how your time fits into those hot spots.

If you don’t set maximums and minimums on how you apply time to different areas, someone will for you. Put a maximum on career, a minimum on personal.

When setting your weekly goals, ask yourself “if this were Friday, what would I be happiest about having accomplished?” “What would I be most annoyed at myself for not having finished?”

Rule of 3: Focus on 3 goals for the day, week, month, year. Make them feed up from one to the next, and work them down when setting new ones. So the day goals fit the week goals, etc. Adjust as necessary.

Carve out a chunk of your life force for making improvements and leading the life you want to live.

The more you get in the habit of making time for what’s most important, the more you’ll get great results.

If you’re not driving your day and time, then someone else will.

Do the worst things first. Sometimes they’re the most important, and then you won’t dread them all day.

Find your “power hours” and focus on getting more of them in your day (see Deep Work).

Create a shutdown routine for the end of your day to help yourself unwind and get out of the work mindset.

Inspiration follows starting, don’t wait for inspiration to strike, just get to work and it will frequently follow.

When you do anything repeatedly, create a checklist for it to quickly move through it in the future (or to give to someone else).

Consolidate similar tasks and do them in a batch, that way you can move through them more quickly.

Create “glide paths” for your work, environments that make it easy to be productive and get your most important work done by removing the things that get in its way.

If something is large and overwhelming, chunk it up until it feels manageable.

The less task switching you do, the more good agile work you’ll get done.

Experiment with your schedule to find what fits you best.

Top five productivity pitfalls:

  1. Analysis paralysis
  2. Do it when you feel like it
  3. Don’t know the work to be done
  4. Lack of boundaries
  5. Perfectionism

If you have motivation without technique, you’re just a motivated idiot. If you have great technique, but no motivation, you won’t accomplish anything. But if you have motivation and technique, you can produce great results.

When you fix your time, you’ll have more energy and sprint better. With an end in sight we can push ourselves, when work is endless it becomes much harder to put in our best effort.

One of the best ways to learn is to teach.

Self discipline is a muscle that gets stronger the more you use it (see Willpower Instinct).

Focus on efforts, not outcomes. You can control your inputs, but you can’t completely control the results. Score will take care of itself.

Three mindsets to make your life better:

  1. Abundance mindset
  2. Positive mindset
  3. Growth mindset

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