« All Episodes

Simple Prioritization Visualization

Published 5/6/2020

In today's episode, we're doing a visualization exercise. Grab a piece of paper and pen or pencil and get ready to think about what you did today.

🧡 Leave a Review

If you're enjoying the show and want to support the content head over to iTunes and leave a review! It helps other developers discover the show and keep us focused on what matters to you.

🍵 Subscribe to the Tea Break Challenge

This is a daily challenge designed help you become more self-aware and be a better developer so you can have a positive impact on the people around you. Check it out and give it a try at https://www.teabreakchallenge.com/.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
In today's episode, we're going to do something a little bit different. If you have a piece of paper, that would be ideal if not. You can do today's visualization in your head. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on this show is to help different developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. Today's episode is going to be a very short visualization. As I already said, if you have a piece of paper, that would be helpful, but not necessarily required. So, here's the exercise. I want you to think about the 10 to 20 minutes, even the 30 minute or hour long tasks that are going to make up your day. If you're listening to this at the end of the day, it's even better to look back at your day and try to write those out. I want you to put a circle around all of those tasks. If you were to copy and paste that circle from today to tomorrow, if you had another piece of paper to represent tomorrow, and you didn't change anything inside of that circle, then for the most part, that much is going to change for you. Aside from specific activities, like once a week meetings or birthday parties or something that doesn't happen often, if you were to repeat the same actions every day, then you can expect mostly the same results. Now this isn't a hard and fast rule. For example, if you continue to exercise every day for 30 minutes a day, then you will have changes over that period of time. In fact, those changes will tend to compound. The first week might feel like you've made very little progress, but the third or the fourth week may feel like exponential progress in comparison to that first week. But the general rule stands that if you were to copy and paste that circle, where everything that you did today, it fits in that circle. If you were to copy and paste that to tomorrow, then not much is going to change in your life. Now, I want you to evaluate this circle in a couple of different ways, and you can choose which ones make the most sense for you. First, I want you to draw two more circles. One is an empty circle. We'll get to that in a minute. The next one is a circle that contains all of the things that you wish you had done, but you didn't for some reason. This podcast is not into the game of trying to shame people for not living up to their own expectations, but instead to try to empower you to live up to those expectations and figure out why you haven't been. As well as taking a moment to celebrate, if you look at the circle that represents all the things that you did do, many of those are probably things that you wanted to do. We'll focus on those in just a minute, but first, I want to focus on the other two circles. The first one is the empty one. In the empty one, you might put a big question mark. This represents opportunity. These are things that you didn't do, but that you didn't even know you could do, or haven't really crossed your mind as an option. This idea of measuring your opportunity cost is important because most of the things that we do are informed by our immediate context. Very rarely do we consider doing something that we've never done or never even considered doing before. And so these things often become invisible. Things that we never planned to do, or don't necessarily fit into the pattern, the rest of our patterns of our lives. And in the other circle, the things that you have absolutely decided that you wish you would do more of. But you haven't, for whatever reason, this circle, combined with the opportunity circle, are things that might take up space in the original circle, the things that you are doing on a daily basis, or that you did, at least today. And so how can we reconcile between all of these different circles? This is the final part of the visualization. I want you to look at that original circle, the one that has everything that you did today in it. And these are not in any particular order, and that's why I had you put them in the circles rather than simply enlists. I want you to look at the things that you feel good about, that you wanted to do, that we're rewarding, or somehow lines up with your goals in life or your values, something that furthers your best interests. And ultimately, if you could have designed the day perfectly yourself from the outside looking in, you keep it. Put a little asterisk next to those. And now I want you to look at the list and find the things that were not so great. In that circle, the items that you wish hadn't happened. Whether that's because of your own behaviors or maybe your situational context, whatever it is, I want you to mark through those. So what you should be left with is three different types of items in this original circle. First, is the items that were highly rewarding, the ones that have asterisk next to them. The second is the list of things that you wish hadn't happened, or you wish that you had prevented in some way. Those are marked out. But then there's this third list, or this third collection of items, if you're like most people. That doesn't fall into either one of those categories. They just kind of happened. Here's the hardest part of this exercise. Go through this third grouping, the ones that haven't fallen into the other two categories. And force yourself to choose whether or not you're going to exit out or put an asterisk next to it. Some of these things are somewhat unavoidable. But before you label something unavoidable, I want you to question if that's actually true. A lot of things we assume to be unavoidable, or things that we can't offload, are actually just because of our situation. And so ask yourself why exactly is this unavoidable? Now once you've gone through this, you can probably see what's coming next. You're going to create a new circle. This circle should be just as big as the old one, but it should only have the items that you put asterisks next to. And hopefully it becomes very clear what can happen next. The items in the other two circles may find a space in this new circle. But you may also realize that some of the things that you're spending five or ten percent of your time on, you want to be spending fifty or sixty percent of your time on instead. In fact, with this new structure, by cutting out all the things that you wish you hadn't been spending your time on, with this new structure, you might make some of the things in the, I wish I had done, circle, obsolete entirely. All of this probably sounds maybe a little bit obvious. What's interesting is that a lot of people, myself included, don't do this very often. Sure, sometimes we think about these things around new years or another transitional moment in our lives when we're trying to reprioritize, maybe when we're getting a new job or when the seasons are changing. But it's fairly rare for us to do this kind of systematic review and prioritization of our own activities. I encourage you to take the time to visualize this for yourself. And imagine how your life would change if you were able to focus only on that small set of things that survives this particular exercise. Only focusing on the small set of things that you really want to do, that really takes you towards your goal and ultimately is rewarding to you. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. I hope you enjoyed this episode. In lieu of visiting a sponsor, I'd like for you to go and leave a review for this show in iTunes. This is a huge help, both to me personally, since it helps me to understand how to drive the content of the show. But also, it helps other developers like you find and ultimately decide to listen to Developer Tea. Today's episode was produced by Sarah Jackson. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. And until next time, enjoy your tea.