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Article Planning Productivity

Build systems to improve

Improving something about ourselves, or about a process can be hard, especially when we want to change something big. The best way to get started is to think about how we can split it into systems that are little constant gains which added over time generate a big impact.

Many people only see the big bang because it is obvious but very few notice that to get to that moment of great success or big achievement, many little steps, and decisions had to be made.

A great performance by an artist is a result of many practice hours, training, experimentation, decisions, changes to daily activities, and most important being able to keep process constant over and over, for many days, weeks, months, and years; where the tiny improvements stack upon the previous improvement. Is like compound interest or snowball effect.

These daily decisions, actions, and habits are the “system” to get to that big bang. So whenever you want to become better at something, instead of thinking about the end result try something different and think about what steps, decisions, and habits that kind of person or role would do, and start small to build over time. Create that system for you.

I think this quote summarizes the impact of having systems:

Systems are for people who care about winning repeatedly.
Goals are for people who care about winning once.

 James Clear

How to apply this to your life?

This is an oversimplification, and I will write more about this in the future, but the first most important thing you can do is: START. Just start and make changes on the way. Design your system to help you get those gains over time.

Here are my recommendations on how to start:

#StepExample
1Identify what you want to improve.I want to complete my project in time.
2Think about the behaviors you need to have to get to that result. Use persons, roles, as model to create your system.I want to become a better planner and organized person. Behave like a Project Manager.
3Divide those behaviors into small actions“A project manager would…”
1. Create a list of tasks
2. Assign time to those tasks
3. Track progress
4. Create Dashboards with progress
5. Review progress every day
6. Plan the work ahead
And so on…
4Start with the ones with less resistant.1. Create a list of tasks every
2. Monday Plan my week
3. Assign them time in my week to work on those actions.
5Split them into small 2 min actionable activities you can do start that task, with little to no effort.1. I open a weekly planner and put the top 3 things I want to achieve today
2. I will review my plan for 2 minutes every day before I open my email
3. I will plan on my calendar where to do my activities during the day  

Example: my journey in photography

I recently read Atomic Habits, this is an amazing book that I can’t get tired of sharing and thinking about all the concepts that I learned. I was able to connect with a lot with ideas on the book and made understand better past experiences and areas where I improved compared to myself many years ago.

In 2007, I wanted to take better photos because I wasn’t satisfied with how the images looked. My goal wasn’t to take a good sunset photo, my goal was to become a photographer but I didn’t understand it back then.

I started by carrying my camera everywhere I go and I took many photos, all the time, I dedicate time to learn about the craft, read and study other photographers’ work, understanding techniques, understand what makes photography good. By doing that over the years I became a better photographer than how I started. Is the “compound interest” but on my photography skills.

I wasn’t overnight, in fact, if compare my photos at the beginning they only have small improvements, however, when I started to add those small improvements and learnings over time, my photos became better and better.

Today, 14 years later, I’m still committed to becoming a better photographer, so I keep doing the habits but an improved version of the original habits, some others I corrected bad habits and transformed them into good habits. As result, my photos improved, and I haven’t lost motivation to learn more, because I didn’t fall in love with the idea of a single goal, I fall in love with the idea of being the best photographer I can.

Start small but start

Over time you will notice that the habit gets build into your personality and those little activities will transform slowly into a meaningful impact, and most important, they reinforce your commitment to improving on that area.

When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running.

James Clear, Atomic Habits.

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