Can the 12 Week Year Help You Get More Done?

Can the 12 Week Year Help You Get More Done?

12 week year

This is Week 32 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether The 12 Week Year {affiliate link} could help me get more done. This week was the 12th week I have been using the approach. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for more details.

How The 12 Week Year Saved My Sanity The Past 12 Weeks

  • Helped me determine which goals were most important to me. I have a hundred different projects I’d like to work on in any given week. When the time frame expands to a year, I’m convinced that I can finish everything I can dream up. The 12 Week Year helped me get serious about what three goals I could realistically accomplish in a summer. The wonderful thing was I felt validated in choosing goals that weren’t necessarily have-to’s, but were want to’s.
  • Helped me break the projects down into weekly tasks. When I begin a big project, I often dive in without thinking through everything that must be done and how long each step will take. The book encouraged me to do it and the online program I paid for made it really easy. I never saw my goals as overwhelming, because I just looked at what I had to do this week to make them happen. I was also prevented from procrastinating because I knew full well that I couldn’t get it all done last minute.
  • Introduced me to time blocking for goals. I wrote about how much I enjoyed time blocking and I’m sure the reason I loved it is because it gave me permission to pursue my want-to’s in a time-protected way. Putting the time block for this work early in the week is both symbolic (this is important!) and practical (you’re more likely to do it).

How The 12 Week Year Made Me Crazy the Past 12 Weeks

  • Didn’t take advantage of accountability. When I did Body for Life and wrote So You’re Not Wonder Woman (which is free on 9/20/13 on Kindle), I had accountability to keep me honest. I had told many people I was doing BFL and I was speaking at a women’s retreat where I would have the best opportunity to share my book with potential buyers. I just didn’t have that kind of accountability this time, nor do I think I could have created it because the goals weren’t the public “I’m going to do it!” type.
  • I failed to review my reasons. One of the aspects of BFL that worked for me was reading over my “why’s” for getting fit every day. I didn’t do that with the 12 Week Year and I think that’s one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy as much success.
  • Too many goals. When I read that I could have up to three goals, I remember thinking, “Hm.” My experience is that I don’t do well having more than one big project at a time to focus on. I hoped this time would be different and it wasn’t. While I loved being able to switch from project to project during my 3-hour time block, that was the end of what I loved. Because I had three goals, I wasn’t able to make progress and accommodate the unexpected. We had a house guest this summer and then I was given an opportunity to host a podcast. I also have a new book project that replaced one of the goals I had started with. Finally, when planning three goals, the potential for underestimating how much time tasks will take is multiplied by three.

Did The 12 Week Year Help Me Get Things Done?

Yes, though I didn’t complete my three goals. I completed 90% of one goal, 50% of the second, and 10% of the third. The good thing is I’m pretty satisfied with my progress given the circumstances. I completed 100% of the new podcast goal and I’ve made good progress on the new book goal, too. I plan on creating a new plan for completing the book as my next 12 Week goal and reading my reasons for writing daily.

**UPDATE**

I had three goals for the past 12 weeks and accomplished them all! One thing that I don’t do is plan everything out in elaborate detail. It’s too frustrating when you have to reschedule. But intermediate deadlines can be very effective if needed and I love setting goals for the quarter as opposed to the year.

Dave Seah

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 33

This week I’ll finish testing Ten for Ten from Dave Seah. A big thank you to Brain Cutlery for the suggestion! The idea is to try to accomplish ten tasks in ten hours and earn points as you go. More points are awarded for tasks finished later in the day. Tasks can be added as you’re ready to work on them, rather than at the beginning of the day.

The concept. The first three tasks are starred because accomplishing them in a day is a great feat in itself. Points are designed to reward you for working beyond that. The method should help in breaking tasks down into reasonable sizes, too. This is a variation on the gamification theme from last week, but it really appeals to me. I just love the look of this form!

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Dave’s post and download the free forms he shares. We can compare points at the end of the week! (Just a reminder that I am not vouching for sites I link to. They may contain language or opinions you find objectionable. But then that applies to this website, too, doesn’t it? Thanks for understanding.)

If you’d like to see if Ten for Ten worked for me, click here.

Are you on Google+? Follow me here.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

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Can Gamification Help You Get More Done?

Can Gamification Help You Get More Done?

thegameofwork

This is Week 31 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested gamification using ToDoist’s Karma feature. I also quantified my past task performance using IQTell. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for

How Gamification Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me see how many tasks I can really accomplish. Of course, number of tasks entered and completed is not an accurate measure of productivity. I could work on one big task like a dog for three days straight and would get a bad productivity score. While I got no hard science data, I was very surprised by how consistent the numbers were from week to week. Because I have to calculate the stats manually, I only looked at the last month which I believe is pretty typical for me. Two statistics were extremely helpful. First, I learned that on average, I enter one task a day that I don’t complete. That doesn’t sound bad at all, does it? But it means that I will be 365 tasks in the hole in a year’s time. I would like to avoid that, of course, so I looked at how many tasks I can reasonably accomplish a week and came up with 35. I have a very thorough routine that involves cleaning, homeschooling, organizing, social media, and more, so that doesn’t mean I’m only getting 35 things done. Of course, those 35 tasks also don’t include things that take so little time that I didn’t bother to enter them into IQTell. But using that number and considering that I do very little on Sundays, I realize that I need to try to limit my number of tasks per day to six. I’m absolutely giddy about this. Yes, I will have days when I go over, but it’s as Game of Work {affiliate link} says: We need to know the rules for winning to be motivated. Now I do.
  • Graphs that motivated. I was a little worried that the Karma feature wouldn’t matter much to me. I was pleasantly surprised by the daily emails showing my productivity and Karma charts. The productivity chart fired me up more because it’s based on how much you get done. When I slacked (as you can see I did), the email was like a kindly push that I appreciated. The Karma line kept going up because I was using the app a lot. I expect that line to be more realistic in the future.
  • Introduced me to an app I love. I haven’t changed productivity apps in a long time. It might even be a record! I have been using IQTell and was very happy. ToDoist is the first program I’ve used that has me seriously considering a switch. The UI is absolutely beautiful. It reminds me of Things that I used years ago, only it is all about color. I organize the areas of my life by color, so it’s a natural fit. The color graphs not only show me what life areas I have that need the most attention (not pictured), but tell me if I’m achieving the balance I want. This is something I loved about Life Balance, but ToDoist doesn’t have the time-intensive data entry and “suggestions” of what I should be doing with my time.

ToDoist, review

 

How Gamification Made Me Crazy This Week

  • No competition aspect. Gamification is about more than just tracking performance. Often, it’s about measuring your performance against others’. Competition is very motivating for me when I feel there’s a chance I can win. So is accountability. I didn’t feel I had that, but my Karma score is 2563 after a week for anyone who cares.
  • Not that fun. Another reason gamification increases productivity is because it makes work entertaining. Tracking my stats and using a new app were wonderful, but it wasn’t that fun. There are other apps and approaches that utilize a more game-like interface that might have been a better test. However, I have tried a few in the past and noticed that I get bored with them quickly.

Did Gamification Help Me Get Things Done?

Yes, although I would say the feedback aspect was what helped. I feel pretty dumb that I never thought to quantify how many tasks I accomplish on average. I always looked at my time usage instead. I did not get to test how well limiting myself to six tasks per day on average works, but that will be my goal from here on. I also plan to continue using ToDoist for the time being.

**UPDATE**

I’m less interested in how many tasks I can do these days than in accurately estimating how long tasks take. I have no interest in ToDoist karma, because I have remained at a top level no matter what I do. These kinds of features aren’t effective for me if there is no competitive aspect or if top achievements are unreachable. In other words, if I have to give up the rest of my life to be on a leader board, I’m not interested. What I find amusing is that blogging is perfectly gamified and motivating for me. I am constantly able to see my stats on the blog and on social media. I can compare my stats to others’, especially on Facebook. Improving is enough of a challenge to keep me trying, but not so much that I’m discouraged. In fact, the game nature of it is what makes it fairly addictive. I’m hoping that my curriculum business will have the same game-like quality that keeps me coming back for more.

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 32

This week I’ll finish testing The 12 Week Year. {affiliate link} I tested time blocking using The 12 Week Year before, but I’ve been using the whole approach for the past 11 weeks. The idea is you can super-power your productivity by setting one to three 12-week goals with week-by-week activities. I set one homeschooling and two writing project goals.

The concept. The 12 Week Year argues that we fail to achieve our New Year’s resolutions because the time frame for them is just too long. Instead, we need help to break the goals down into weekly objectives that can be easily quantified. I loved the idea because I succeeded in writing a book and getting fit in 12 weeks.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read the book or simply choose one to three goals that you’d like to achieve in the next 12 weeks. Create a reason for each goal that you will regularly reflect upon. Then break each goal down into weekly sub-goals. Track your progress this week and continue on to your goal.

To see if the 12 Week Year worked for me, click here.

Are you a Twitter user? Follow me here.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

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