Mike Vardy from The Productivityist shares practical details about his approach to planning and managing the things he wants to accomplish through the use of themes, modes and energy levels.


Discussion Highlights

  • John’s dislike for overly complex plans and the wasted time it takes to manage them
  • Planning has value, to a point
    • “In preparing for battle I’ve also found that plans are useless and planning is indispensable” — Dwight Eisenhower
  • The difference between “complicated” and “complex” plans
  • Finding the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) methodology to be too rigid and not “human” enough
  • Giving each day a theme that reflects the rhythms and constraints of your life
  • Selecting tasks and projects based on your energy level and daily theme vs. looking at your list of things to do and just picking something
  • You still have to have discipline when following your feelings or energy level
  • Frameworks foster freedom
  • “working by project” vs. theme or task
  • Life doesn’t have an “off season”
  • New years resolutions don’t work
  • If you’re going to plan something for a whole year, make it something small that you can do everyday like journaling or meditating
  • Theming provides a way to funnel or filter your focus.
  • Theming is a much better guide to what you should do next after a meeting ends instead of checking your email
  • Themes may overlap between business and personal
    • Other times separate themes may make more sense
  • Mike catalogs a variety of different theme ideas
  • In environments where theming doesn’t work consider modes instead
  • Mike finds that the best way to avoid restarting is daily journaling
  • Practical steps to getting started with theming
    • Look out three weeks on your calendar and look for certainties or patterns of what happens on certain days
    • Don’t define a day as “free”
    • Try a horizontal theme like reading every day for 30 minutes
    • Add a “mode” to each task
  • The year is both long and short–breaking it down into smaller chunks is valuable
  • Work in the ways that work best for you–not what others say should work best for you

Books & Resources


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