New month (almost) and new challenge. It is painful to fail a challenge (a challenge would be anything that you want to do and entails a minimum difficulty), because of the feeling that you end up with. It can feel like you wasted your time, but handled the right way it can make you improve and fuel you for the next challenge that you face.

Here, and always following the ZTD habits, I want to face a new challenge, after I reviewed my old failure, and go on with the implementation of ZTD.

The 3rd habit is the habit of PLAN. The question is how to implement it into my routine. The PLAN habit is about creating structure in your workflow. It is based on prioritizing your Big Rocks, which are the most important actions/projects that you want to focus in for the time being while taking your long term goals in account. I take the next quote fragment from the book ZTD:

(…) put the Big Rocks in your schedule first, let the smaller rocks and gravel fill in the schedule around the Big Rocks – otherwise, if you put the small rocks and gravel first, they will fill up the schedule, leaving no room for the Big Rocks.

The thing here is to choose a number of 4-6 weekly Big Rocks, based, at least 1 or 2 of them, on your yearly goals (which I call Mountains). These Big Rocks are to be completed within the week.

Next, there is also a daily part. Everyday, in the morning, or the evening of the previous day, you have to decide 1 to 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs). If you read the previous posts, maybe you noticed that I was already trying to implement this for the first two habits (which was wrong and led me to be over-saturated of habits to learn). from the MITs for the day, try to pick at least 1 or 2 which are also weekly Big Rocks.

My previous experience (and failure) tells me that choosing MITs which take longer than 1 or 2 hours is not a good idea. Do not be afraid of making it easy, since after you’re finished you can always go and accomplish more tasks (they all are written in the list of things to do that you obtain if you apply the COLLECT and PROCESS steps).

Next, you focus on completing the MITs first, before anything else you do during the day. The book says even before checking your e-mail in the morning, you should try to finish the first MIT. I don’t do that because I use mi gmail account connected to my google calendar to remind me of my schedule, this involves some morning gymnastics and reading my yearly goals to power me up right from the beginning, but immediately afterwards I should move onto the first MIT.

The book reminds you once and again, that after completing one MIT, you should always reward yourself and have a break to relax. I have to say I’m not too good in that 🙂

So now onto the challenge:

I have to keep track of the Big Rocks and of the MITs, so I thought that the best and most obvious way would be to count the Big Rocks at the beginning and at the end of the week, and do the same for the MITs, but in a daily basis.

For instance, I’d have to fill the following lines during the next two weeks (I already began filling it):

Week 1,
Big Rocks scheduled 5

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
MITs scheduled  2
MITs completed
Big Rocks completed

Week 2,
Big Rocks scheduled

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
MITs scheduled
MITs completed
Big Rocks completed
So, for the moment I’ll simply keep track of these numbers and if I see an improvement, I’ll move onto the 4th habit: DO! And you see, I don’t die or have to begin all over if I don’t do it perfect. Only in the case that I completely mess up I’d think about some radical measures. Otherwise, it’s ok. My goal here is to see an improvement or if I stay steady, at least to be at a reasonably good level.
Of course I’ll keep on doing the first two habits, which are really not a problem anymore since I am super-used to them.

Up to now I can tell you that my productivity scaled just by applying the first 2 habits, so I don’t know what you are waiting for! 🙂

Have a good time, and I’d be happy to answer any questions or hear any suggestions that you have, just drop me a line in the comments below.