I started a new experiment to make my progress in long-term more visible that I call Godin's bucket (see quote below). If you want to skip the background story and go directly to the recipe, click here.
"Filling up a bucket might not be fast or easy, but you can easily measure your progress. [...] Most of what’s important to us, though, doesn’t show itself this way."
It's not a bucket - Seth Godin
But what if we could?
Me adult always wondered how me teenager could spend countless hours on games, spending for example too much time in Minecraft and almost never get bored of cutting trees or doing random things for nothing.
I tried to extract how the mechanics of keeping on for very long time worked out:
- I wanted to build something/reach some place/improve some resource gathering;
- In my mind I roughly gathered the list of resources I needed;
- With the game tools, I started to gather the resources, one by one;
- I could see the immediate progress, I had proof of my work right in front of my eyes every tree I cut, block I mined or placed somewhere;
- Every time I got slightly bored, I could step back and visualise around; There was the big picture, how every action influenced the whole;
- And if I the environment changed, or I needed to do something else because I had done enough of the current thing, I could easily change the task and the next time I would be passing by I would see how much work was left to be done.
Which seemed to be like something I could use outside the game, I was holding big amount of buckets, filling them all the times without ever having a clear vision of the end, and having bit of a formula for me to keep myself going on longer.
My first thought was to find a You Need A Budget for time. Failure.
I couldn't find anything interesting or helpful enough by searching by "Time budgeting" other than some ready-to-implement notes (if you implement this, I'm interested 😬).
By some random reason, I was at the time testing Timing 2 to understand where all my time is going, without much forethought.
But what I initially didn't pay much attention at first on Timing 2, was that it has a project/tasks feature, which I mistakenly assumed was a freelancing/hours invoicing feature. It turned out that I could use it to be the Godin's buckets.
From my addicting games habits I extracted this list and applied them to my life:
- I had a blurred vision of the direction I wanted to go;
- I had a plan, but incomplete, I didn't know exactly numbers, just what I needed to do;
- I used a tool to execute the next obvious task at hand;
- I could see the immediate progress, I had proof of my work right in front of my eyes;
- Every time I stepped back, I could visualise around and see the big picture, how every execution of my task influenced the whole;
- And if I needed to do something else because I had done enough of the current thing, I would move on and maybe, if the vision was still up-to-date, I would continue.
- Keep a simple list of projects you want to do;
- Keep a SMART list of things to-do on every of these projects. I keep mine on Todoist;
- Trust yourself. You cannot move on without taking yourself seriously and professionally. You do use your tools to bring the muse, and do the work.
- From the trust you can imply that immediate progress for tasks correspond directly to time spent (the game-changer for me). In whatever you will be doing in my life, you cannot cheat this only thing, you will need to spend time on it. No matter whatever other concept of progress is there for what you are doing, accept that time on the task means progress.
- To step back and visualise, you need to keep track of time, otherwise you will look at void. Somehow, the act of doing task, spending the time, should be the act of keeping it registered, and this is the problem with the invisible buckets that Godin pointed out. So, instead of doing it actively, you need something that will do that for you passively, the same way that time moves on regardless if you are looking into it or not. I found that Timing 2 is great enough to keep up with this task.
- And the hardest of them all, you needed to create the projects from the list of the first item, in Timing 2, and mark on it the time you are spending on them. I do it by starting to work on some project with the Timing 2 tasks, time-boxing for a pomodoro, 25 minutes. This article, for example, went to the "Writing" project/bucket. As I trust the previous items, I can later go on a week review in Timing 2 and verify what I spent time on (made progress) and what is stalled, and if I need to move on to something else or not. Everything I wrote down on the first item as the projects I want to do will be clearly shown as moving on or simply stalled. No more invisible buckets.
First one is keeping using the basic tracking and looking into where time (progress) is going. Second thing, I still miss the "You need a budget" budgeting system, to make some actual budgeting of time. The idea is that budgeting will avoid and improve the link of time spent and progress I proposed on the 3rd item. Some projects can last forever and burn-out infinite hours, without ever bringing value, and you should spend very limited time on them so you can bring progress from clearer projects.