Categories
Planning & Review

My Quarterly Habits Review (Q2, 2016)

This year I’ve started a new tradition to take a look at the habits I’ve been developing on a quarterly basis. They cover four main areas in my life:

  1. Daily Hustle
  2. Daily Questions
  3. Mindset
  4. Health & Fitness

The data is collected on a daily basis through a variety of different tools. You can check out last quarter’s review here.

Daily Hustle

The Daily Hustle is inspired by the Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity method to work on one key habit on a daily basis. The goal is to keep the habit going by not breaking the chain of X’s on a calendar. It’s the ONE Thing that can help make your day a success and push you towards your goal.

My goal this year has been to spend 15-minutes working on my blog everyday. I use a Hustle Calendar to help me keep track of this keystone habit. Check out where my calendar is current at below and the stats from Q2.

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Success rate: 79% (-5% from Q1)

Posts published: 20 (+4 from Q1)

Observations:

Q2 saw my success rate dip 5% which is not a huge concern. Anything hovering around 80% is a respectable number for me. On the flipside, I did publish 20 posts (marked by the squared dates) compared to 16 in Q1. So from an output level I was techincally more productive this past quarter.

Daily Questions

The Daily Questions are inspired by an activity in Marshall Goldsmith’s book Triggers. It’s an activity that allows me to track my progress on key priorities and objectives. It’s a holistic view on how much effort I put into advancing towards my goals.

Here were the questions I asked this past quarter followed by the key stats and highlights:

  1. Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
  2. Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
  3. Did I do my best to create meaning for myself or others today?
  4. Did I do my best to be happy today?
  5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
  6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?
  7. Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today?
  8. Did I do my best to minimize the number of decisions I made today?
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My best month (July)

Monthly Averages:

April – 8.59

May – 8.61

June – 8.70

April’s Highest & Lowest Scores:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? @ 9.28

Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today? @ 8.21

May’s Highest & Lowest Scores:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? @ 9.72

Did I do my best to be happy today? @ 8.14

June’s Highest & Lowest Scores:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? @ 9.41

Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today? @8.24

Observations:

There’s no doubt that I’ve hit my stride with the Did I do my best to set clear goals today? question. Using Momentum to help me set my main focus for the day has been a game changer. On the other hand, it’s clear that Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today? has lagged behind appearing two out of three months as the lowest score. I’ve been consistent with my 7-Minute Workout (as you’ll see below) but my consistency with going to capoeira class has hurt this score. It’s also a slightly ambiguous question as it melds in physical and emotional health together. Both are intertwined but perhaps it may be best to distinguish between the two for future months.

Mindset

The mindset habit I’m developing is spending 10-15 minutes every day meditating. I’m currently using an application called Calm to help me with this.

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My best month (July)

Completion Rate: 87% (+12% from Q1)

Best Month: Tied – April and June @ 90% completion

Longest Streak: 42 days (from March to April)

Observations:

Q2 was a fantastic quarter for meditation. My completion rate jumped by 12% between Q1 and Q2 and I developed a very consistent meditation habit. This was despite a fairly travel heavy quarter for me. I’m proud of the way that I stayed disciplined in keeping my morning routine going. I was also much more consistent with my meditation journal which has become a key addition to my post-meditation routine. Putting down my thoughts from the meditation and assessing my focus has added another layer of awareness.

As I improve my ability to focus through my meditation and find a calm mindset faster, the next step for me is to deepen that focus and learn more about myself through this process. I’m excited about the learnings and challenges that’ll come from the next quarter.

Health & Fitness

Last but not least, the health habit I’m developing is completing a 7-Minute Workout everyday through the Seven app. The rule with the 7-Minute Workout is not to miss more than 2 workouts every month. The workouts are 7 minute high intensity interval trainining (HIIT) style so they get pretty intense.

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My best month (July)

Completion Rate: 92% (-1% from Q1)

Best Month: May @ 94% completion

Observations:

In Q2, I focused mainly on the Push-Up Pusher program which focused on a variety of push-up styles. It was (and still is) a challenging workout for me but I did see improvements specifically with my shoulders and my triceps. It’s one that I’m interested in continuing to work on and improve upon especially because my upper body is weaker than my lower body.

Conclusion

Q2 was a great continuation of the habits I began to develop in Q1. I’m really happy with my results overall and the steady development of habits. I’m also finding a lot of value in doing this review as I get a chance to look at areas of improvement and implement those for Q3 and Q4. It’s crazy how quickly time flies so taking a moment to reflect is really important. More to come next quarter!

Categories
Weekly Learnings

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Apr 24, 2016)

Hey there!

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. This week, I want to highlight Harvard Business Review’s piece on A Step-by-Step Guide to Structuring Better Meetings. Many of us have experienced poorly planned and executed meetings; all it takes is a little bit of forethought and planning to make a meeting much more effective for everyone involved. A couple of ideas that I’ll be using moving forward is address the urgent issues right from the begining of the meeting and scheduling “overflow” time in case there is additional discussion time required – only with team members who it concerns. Check it out – you may find some useful tips in the article along with all the others listed below.

Have a great week!

Favourite links from the week:

Leadership

A Step-by-Step Guide to Structuring Better Meetings (Harvard Business Review)

A Mini-Guide to Not Being Frustrated All the Time (zen habits)

How Working in Teams Builds Employee Engagement (Business 2 Community)

Brain Science

10 Common Brain Health and Brain Training Myths, Debunked (Huffington Post)

Creativity Is Much More Than 10,000 Hours of Deliberate Practice (Scientific American)

How to Parent Like a Master Strategist [Q&A] (Scientific American)

Brain Training – Can We Really Enhance Our Cognitive Skills? (Brain Blogger)

New Evidence Points to Personal Brain Signatures (Scientific American)

Other

Make decisions with millennials in mind, researcher urges Toronto (CBC News)

Justin Trudeau’s Canada is the best hope for the global economy (Quartz)

A 15-ton computer aims to provide clean water, electricity, and the internet to thousands of Africans (Quartz)

Productivity tip of the week:

Creating a packing list template on Evernote

This week, I’m off to New Orleans for the Collision conference. As part of my prep process, I need to make sure I’m packed and ready to go. So I’m using a packing list template I made in Evernote to help me keep track of all the items I need to pack. I specifically like Evernote as the home of my packing list template because you can create a check-box which makes it easy to confirm whether you’ve packed the specific item yet. It’s also quite easy to duplicate the template note and make it specific for the destination.

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My New Orleans packing checklist

Yes, not brain science I’m doing here but creating checklists for activities you know you’ll be repeating (e.g. traveling) is well worth the time. Hope this helps!

Product or service I’m loving:

Day One Journal

I recently began incorporating a reflection period every morning as part of my morning ritual. I give myself two options to reflect: leave a message with my therapist via TalkSpace or write for 5-10 minutes in my Day One Journal. Giving myself the option to speak or write out my thoughts makes it a lot easier for me to get started with my reflection. Often times I find myself resistant to digging into my feelings but having the option lowers the starting hurdle just enough for me to get started.

Either way, the preferred tool I use for writing down my thoughts is the Day One Journal. I know some people like to write in a physical journal but I prefer typing. I’m a much faster typer than a writer and I feel like I can get more of my thoughts out by typing them out. After all, to me, seeing the thoughts and feelings somewhere outside of my head is the biggest benefit.

Day One Journal has a simple, beautiful interface. It has the ability to password protect your journal. It can also allow you to add photos to your posts if you want to add any additional context. I particularly like how it tags your location with the post to see where you were when you wrote a particular entry.

Reflection is a key component of becoming a better version of yourself so carve out the time to make this happen. It’ll give you a better understanding who you really are and allow you to look at the successes and challenges you face in a more objective way.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying:

Cooked

A beautiful look at the history of food in our civilization. Michael Pollen, who wrote the book The Ominvore’s Dilemma, navigates the viewers through four themes: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. If you’re interested at all in food preparation or the history of food, this is a visually stimulating and informative documentary. Available on Netflix.

A quote that’s inspiring me:

“Your world is a living expression of how you are using—and have used—your mind.” —Earl Nightingale

As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on my Tweets. See you on next week’s round up!

Categories
Planning & Review

Peter’s Quarterly Review – Q1 2016

Recently, I read a post on Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog about Monthly Reviews. At the beginning of every month, Leo asks himself a set of questions to reflect on the month before. I think it’s a great idea which inspired me to start doing a quarterly review (baby steps, right?)

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past several months quantifying my life. I have a calendar that tracks my daily goals, an app that tracks my meditation, a spreadsheet that tracks my daily behaviour, and so on. Having the data is a great starting point because it’s an objective look at where you stand. As Peter Drucker once famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.” I’m hoping to bring a bit of measurement into my life through this process.

Here’s what I want to review with this first attempt:

Daily Goal

Daily Questions

Mindset

Health & Fitness

So this might be a little messy as it’s my first attempt but let’s try to breakdown how my quarter went. The objective here is to break down my tracking tools and see if I can create a template to use moving forward.

Daily Goal

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Above is my 2016 Hustle Calendar. The days marked as “X” are days that I completed my 2016 goal – spend 15 minutes working on my blog everyday. I’m hoping that a small contribution everyday to my blog will result in big results by the end of 365 days.

My blog is not intended to make money or sell people stuff; it’s simply a platform to share my knowledge and I don’t have any specific monetary goals or anything. The focus is to add value to people’s lives while I learn/research things that matter.

You’ll see most days are marked and some are not. I also put a black box around the days that I published a new post. Days with lines running through them are days that I was traveling. It’s quite helpful to see how I was able to maintain (or not maintain) my habits while on the road.

According to my Hustle Calendar (up to March 31st), I hit 76 out of 91 days of the month meaning a 84% success rate. Pretty good for my first quarter building out this habit. Below are some of the stats.

Total days: 91

Completed days: 76

Incomplete days: 15

Success rate: 84%

Longest streak: 15 days

Days travelled: 15

Success rate while traveling: 47% (7 out of 15)

Posts published: 16

Out of the metrics listed above (and I’m sure I can slice and dice this further) the ones I can benchmark myself on moving forward are Success Rate, Longest Streak, and Posts Published. Basically my goal for next month can be to improve upon my Success Rate, put together a streak longer than 15 days, and publish more than 16 posts.

That said, I’m not too concerned about how many posts I published this quarter. As I build up this habit, I’m more concerned about the success rate and the quality of time that I put in for every 15 minute session. The posts and the quality will rise as I do a better job managing my 15 minutes and refining that process.

I also noticed that traveling put a big dent into my stats. I was only successful 47% of the time while on the road meaning I need to re-evaluate how I complete my morning routine during travels to include the 15 minutes of blogging or try to limit the time I spend on the road.

Daily Questions

I’ve written in the past about the 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Everyday. It’s a powerful tool for habit development and improving self awareness. I’ve been asking myself 7 questions every day over the past 3 months and rating myself on a scale of 1 to 10 for each of the questions. It’s given me some insight into which questions I’m doing well with and which ones I still need to work on. This metric is another great point of reference as I look back on the progress that I’ve made so far.

This quarter’s numbers are a little bit off since I was working on the scoring system a little bit and creating some consistency. But here they are anyways:

January

Monthly average = 8.65/10

Highest average scored question (tied):

Did I do my best to make progress towards my goals today? (8.74/10)

Did I do my best to be fully engaged today? (8.74/10)

Lowest average scored question:

Did I do my best to create meaning for myself or others today? (8.53/10)

February

Monthly average = 7.79/10

Highest average scored question:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? (8.03/10)

Lowest average scored question:

Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today? (7.52/10)

March

Monthly average = 8.31/10

Highest average scored question:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? (9.11/10)

Lowest average scored question:

Did I do my best to create meaning for myself or others today? (8.04/10)

There’s a lot of ways that I can look at this data but the one big thing that stuck out to me that I became a lot better at setting clear goals each day. Both February and March were months where that question scored highest. March was incredible with a 9.11 average!

This is due in large part to the 5 minutes I’ve started spending every morning setting my focus for the day. I use an app called Momentum that gives you space to write down your top focus in a new tab. Every time you open a new tab, the Momentum tab shows you what your main focus is until you complete it and cross it off the main page.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 9.03.51 AM

Sometimes my focus is a little bit abstract like the one above but on other days it’s very specific (e.g. “Spend 15 minutes working on my tax return” or “Go to my capoeira class this evening.”) I also set a separate focus of the day for my job which helps keep things separate. Suffice to say, I’ve really enjoyed this morning goal-setting habit and I plan on keeping it up in Q2.

I also noticed a big dip in the February average but I’m going to chalk that up to a shift in my scoring methodology. In January, I was okay with including decimal points in my score but I changed that to no decimal points so I wouldn’t sit on the fence between an 8 or 9 with an 8.5, for example. That adjustment in scoring is what is partially reflecting the scoring.

Mindset

For me, having a good mindset for the day starts with spending 10 minutes meditating every morning. And I’ve been using an app called Calm to help me with this process. One of the aspects that I love about Calm is how it helps you track and view your meditation over the course of a month.

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As you can see above, it shows you your current streak at the top and the days that you meditated are highlighted by a green circle. It even gives you additional stats below and an option at the bottom to add a meditation session manually in case you didn’t use the app for it.

The data from the entire quarter is a little incomplete as I was meditating without using the Calm app in January but here are the stats:

January

31 days

17 days complete

14 days incomplete

55% success

February

29 days

23 days complete

6 days incomplete

79% success

March

31 days

28 days complete

3 days incomplete

90% success

Going from a 55% success rate in January to a 90% success rate was a huge improvement. I’d be happy to hit a 90% success rate any month so the key will be to maintain my progress so far. I’ve noticed that adding a habit to journal a little bit after my meditation has helped make the experience more fulfilling and exciting to come back to. I have a feeling that contributed to a successful March and continued interest in me to meditate everyday.

Health and fitness

The tool I’m using for this is called the 7 Minute Workout. Hands down, it is the best health app I have used to date. The workouts are great and the motion graphics make it easy to understand the workout technique. It also has a built-in “7 Month Challenge” where you try to do a 7-Minute Workout everyday over 7 months without missing 3 workouts in a month. If you miss 3 workouts, then the streak ends and you have to start over.

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I started my 7-Month Challenge back in October and above is a screenshot after Day #171. There were a couple of close calls but I’ve pushed my way through to over 80% completion. Maintaining this streak to 7 months and beyond is an important goal for me. At the moment, I’m working on my upper body with a workout called “Pushup Pusher”. I’ve been pleased with the progress I’ve made with muscle development so far as I’ve been keeping track by taking a weekly snapshot of my upper body.

Conclusion

As you can see above, my quarterly review really consists of how I’m performing with my daily habits. Small changes can make a big difference over time and that’s what I’m counting on here. I’ve been really pleased with my 84% success rate with my daily goal, a 9.11 score for my goal setting habit, 90% meditation success rate in March, and keeping my 7-Month Challenge streak alive.

What I’d like to do for the next quarter is to continue collecting the data and keep my eyes peeled for trends and areas of improvement. This quarter’s review is a good start but I’d like to refine this process further. I’d also like to include another review section for “Progress with Projects” so I can keep track of progress for projects that live outside the scope of my daily habits. Further to that, it would be good to set clear benchmarks for success rates, muscle/weight gain (for my health goals), and new subscribers to my blog so I have specific measurements to strive towards.

Please feel free to add below your thoughts and perhaps your experience with review processes like this. I’d love to continue to improve this and eventually develop a template for you to run through a quarterly review.