Archives for category: Challenge

Ahoy fellas!

Today (first post in a long time) I’ll set the ground to a number of mini-challenges to redress my usage of ZTD.

I have had big problems, in particular with the DO habit.

The COLLECT and PROCESS habits I perform quite well (they’re perhaps the easiest).

In the PLAN habit I stumble a bit. The main problem is that I set the alarms for tracking my BR and monthly goals via my GoogleCalendar, they get mixed with all my other emails, which I tend to ignore more often than not, and as a result, these alarms get also ignored sometimes. The thing is: although I could set a different gmail account for my GoogleCalendar, switching between gmail accounts is a pain. I could maybe use some other tool, but I have everything set up in my GoogleCalendar already… I’ll see how I tackle that. Maybe as one famous entrepreneur says,the best is to “let little bad things happen”.

I fail the DO habit, having one same item in my MITs list for the day during days or even weeks. If I managed to empty that list everyday, I’d be a happy man. Today, I want to set a mini-challenge to try to tackle that.

I’ll do a one week version of the challenge I did for the DO habit. I’ll track the number of MITs that I set for the day, and the number that I have left at the end of each day.

I should fill the following lines:

Initial MITs/Final MITs

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:


I’ll start tomorrow!

Note: Sometimes, it happens that I couldn’t do a MIT that day because I had to wait for another thing to be complete, which didn’t depend on me. If that happens, I’ll mark a number with a *. Example: Let’s say that I had 3 MITs, I completed 2, but one of them I was unable to complete for external reasons. I’ll mark it as: 3/2(1*)

Hope to report in a week!



It’s not like it doesn’t make perfect sense.
With the first habit, you collect every whimsical little thing that you want to do. The second habit allows you to filter, process, the ideas you collected. The third habit is about bringing a schedule to your day and week. But all would be irrelevant if in the end of all the planning, you do nothing.

So this habit –DOING, is about crushing it and just actually friggin’ do the damn things.

What does ZTD say about that?

In a nutshell, just do the friggin’ thing, stay FOCUSED, and do NOT MULTITASK. Welcome to the monotask world.

To be a little bit more explicit, the text gives some further guidance to find focus:

  1. Choose a Big Rock and work on it for x minutes or until it’s done. I say, 1:50 hours for instance. Or about 2 hours.
  2. Zoning: remove from your working space everything that could distract you.
  3. Time yourself, set the chronometer on, and do the thing like an oyster on crack.
  4. Interruptions? Put them into inbox for later (i.e. collect them)
  5. Do not switch tasks, just do the damn thing. Feeling the urge? Stop, breath deep, and control yourself.
  6. Sometimes we have to interrupt what we’re doing by something inevitable. In this case, take notes of where you are in the task to go back to it again easily.
  7. Relax, take a walk outside, go to the gym. Remain sane. Take a time everyday to not do things.
  8. In between task and task, relax and mess up for 10 minutes (10 minutes, no more!!)

I’m going to face that as a challenge as usual, and I thought the best way is to set the rules of a game, and if I win it, reward myself. It’s going to be fun.

Based on the guidelines above, I have selected a set of good and bad things.

Good things:

  • Accomplish Big Rock within timed burst
  • Get zoned
  • Collect interruptions
  • Make notes if the inevitable assaults
  • Relax
  • Reward after the task

Bad things:

  • Multitasking
  • Procrastinating

Now that’s how it works: for every good thing that I do, I earn a point. For every BAD thing that I DON’T do, I also earn a point. SO for two Big Rocks within one day, I’d count each thing twice (once for each BR).

I’ll keep daily track of these, write them down in a table, and let one month pass. This sounds easy, right? It’s not. It not so obvious when I’m doing something that I shouldn’t. Procrastination is not always easily identified. Let’s put an example: I am reading a textbook about science and my goal is to get a rough overview of the topic. Now I find a particularly interesting or difficult to understand equation, and I begin trying to develop it by myself. Is this procrastinating? YES! Absolutely! I’m wasting time doing something which slows me down in my purpose.

Identifying multitasking is not so difficult, but one must take care of it. Think for instance that you’re working, and at the same time eating a sandwich. This is ok! Or not? Well, bad news, this is still freakin multitasking. Yes! What I wouldn’t consider multitasking? Drinking something while working. Any action that does not disturb focus and does not hinder physical action for more than one or two seconds.

Going to the bathroom is not included in any of the above and can be done at any time (but take notes if needed!).

Ok. Rules defined.

Now I gotta set quantitative goals.

Let’s imagine that I do 2 BR every day, on average. In one month, this is 2 x 30 = 60 BR. If they’re completed, it’s 60 points. Now, for each BR there’s a certain number of things that can bring me points: zoning, rewarding myself, not multitasking, and not procrastinating. This adds to 4 additional points per BR (if I do everything right). 2 x 4 x 30 = 240 points. Finally, there are things which are independent of BR; dealing with interruptions, and relaxing (e.g. take a walk). Let’s assume that I get interrupted on the 25% of my BR, and that I relax once daily, this amounts to a number of points equal to 60 x 0.25 + 30 = 45 points.

So, as an orientative number, assuming everything goes perfectly, I can accumulate 60 + 240 + 45 = 345 points/month. I am going to take the 80% of this value, 276, as a realistic goal. If I accomplish it, I’ll give myself a moderate reward.

Now the fun part comes, if I achieve >90% (310 points), I’ll increase the reward.

80% reward: Spend some hours in a nice spa.
90% reward: Spend some hours in a nice spa and do couchsurfing in a place of my choice.

Now that’s something interesting. I am excited!

See you in a few days! And if you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments 🙂