Your Power Hour

Some people are night owls. Other people are early birds. I people am not a fowl of any kind, thank you very much. (However, I am a male seahorse named Spikey, but that’s a different story…)

Do you ever get that jolt of inspired activity, where you suddenly want to do this thing and then you do it? Well, capture the nature of that jolt and ask yourself if you have a time of day where you’re likely to be as productive, relative to this jolt. This is your Power Hour! Now, apologize to yourself for asking yourself another question, then ask yourself: When is your Power Hour?

For me, if I can plop myself in front of a computer from the moment I wake up, I am super productive. Also, between 8:30 and 9:30 before my first meeting seems to be when I get lots of stuff done. Such times are usually ones where I am least prone to interruption and have a strict deadline. In the latter example, that Power Hour ends with the morning Scrum at work, whereas in the former example, that Power Hour ends when I start getting hungry. These are moments of sheer focus and Matrix-like clarity.

These times of day may not happen every day, but I wager that more often than not, much like for night owls and early birds, there is a time of day where you’re naturally more efficient. If you don’t know this for yourself, find it, even if it is by process of elimination, e.g., you’re useless after dinner or before your third cup of coffee.

After determining your Power Hour (and this is more a time of day than a strict 60 minutes), think about which tasks/stories you would want to have done during this time. Also, think about this somewhat physiological logistic when setting the day’s game plan during the Scrum. Besides prioritizing to work with your natural inclinations, this visualizing of getting a set of things done during that magical time feeds the good kind of self-fulfilling prophesy, and I’ll take a positive feedback loop like this whenever I can.

Two Metrics At Any Time

The last post talked about measuring life and how ScrumOfOne can do this to manage life, in a sense. The morning Scrum allows for a granularity of a day, but what about a measure with higher resolution? And would you even want one?

In ‘The $100 Startup’ by Chris Guillebeau, he proposes that in the monitoring of your business, select one or two metrics and be aware of them at any time, such that you can determine ’em in very short order. Examples include sales, cash flow, and incoming leads. To balance out the monitoring overhead, any other metrics would be subject to a biweekly or monthly review.

From a Scrum perspective, the burndown chart could be a visual representation of one of these metrics: how many hours left to complete all tasks associated with Sprint stories. For myself, I don’t have stories that I need to break into tasks quite yet… nor do I have a means to track this at a low enough overhead that I care to use.

The metric in this category that I do follow is how close to my Sprintly (financial) budget I am.

What would yours be?

Don’t Have A Fine Day

Don’t do it. Just don’t. Whatever it takes.

If somebody asks you, “Greetings, citizen! How fares your day?” and you say, “Fine!” …then… think about that.

Fine? Do you really want a fine day? Just… fine? It’s your day, so if you could chose an adjective to be associated with it, would you really want it to be ‘fine’? Come now, fair citizen, surely you wish this not.

This line of thinking comes from ‘Tribes’ by Seth Godin, where he says that if you are having a fine day, then you’re not leading, because leaders are the heretics, out causing trouble, passionately speaking out against the status quo and creating change because the marketplace demands it. To be a leader, I can see this definitely applying.

To be a living human being, I can’t see why this shouldn’t apply.

If you’re having a fine day, then it is not an exciting day. Could you have an exciting day and honestly say it was just, well, y’know, fine? This echoes a definition of happiness from ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, where he equates happiness to excitement. If you are doing things that excite you (excites you to your core), then you are living life happily.

Let’s take this a step further and rock the boat a little: If you’re having a fine day, then you are not happy.

Ending on a lighter note, I challenge you to not have a fine day. Ever. Fo’ realz. Don’t float along the currents of everybody else’s life. Wake up every morning and tell yourself to make waves. I make this a part of my morning Scrum.

Stay in trouble, citizen.

Death and The Night

So… how about this: let’s die well.

When we die, let’s do that whole death thing with a sense of peace, however & whenever that ends up happening. It’s gonna happen, and when it does, when you’re right up against that point, there’s stuff that’ll go through your head. What do you want to be thinking? As I’ve shared a week ago, I like the idea of lying on my death bed and knowing I’ve given my greatest gift.

Besides living each day as if it were your last, or as if you’re already dead, to get the most out of life… death seems pretty far away. So is that feeling of impending end as a motivator for giving your greatest gift. So let’s scale down both the severity of death and how far it is in the future – let’s call this the night. Let’s re-do the previous paragraph, replacing ‘death’ with ‘sleep’.

When we sleep, let’s do that whole sleep thing with a sense of peace, however & whenever that ends up happening. It’s gonna happen, and when it does, when you’re up against that point, there’s stuff that’ll go through your head. What do you want to be thinking? As I’ve shared a week ago, I like the idea of lying on my sleep bed and knowing I’ve given my greatest gift.

Now, Steve Pavlina on his blog has a great post that covers one way to simulate the death bed scene, except with way less drama, ’cause I’m in my Stewie-from-Family-Guy PJ’s. The following, lifted from his article on The Power of Clarity, is what I keep in mind as I go about my day. Give it a shot.

I was once told by someone that I should end each day by crossing it off my calendar and saying out loud, “There goes another day of my life, never to return again.” Try this for yourself, and notice how much it sharpens your focus. When you end a day with the feeling that you would have lived it the same if you had the chance to repeat it, you gain a sense of gratitude that helps you focus on what’s really important to you. When you end the day with a feeling of regret or loss, you gain the awareness to try a different approach the next day.

Find Your Path via Dreamlining

Ah, Dreamlining. Putting a timeline to your dreams. Defining them and their costs, and then creating a plan to realize them within 6 months, the first step of which can be taken today. In ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, he goes into detail about how to do this, providing a worksheet to fill out how you would realize ‘the four dreams that would change it all’.

Man, doesn’t that sound great? The four dreams that would change it all… How about just one dream – let’s start with that. Need a little help? (I want a motorcycle! I already have the jacket…) He provided some questions that should get that dream engine started. Ask yourself the following.

  • What if there was no way I could fail?
  • What if I were 10 times smarter than the rest of the world?
  • What would I do day to day if $100 million were in the bank?
  • What am I most excited to wake up to day to day?
  • What am I good at?
  • What could I be best at?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What excites me?
  • What makes me feel accomplished & good about myself?
  • Can I repeat or further develop what I’m most proud of having accomplished in my life?
  • What do I enjoy sharing or experiencing with other people?

So go ahead. I’m sure your gut has an answer. What are the four dreams that would change it all?