| Planning
Planning

Overview

Planning helps keep me organized and it ensures I'm spending my time and energy in the right places. When it comes to planning, it's important to note that nothing ever goes exactly according to plan -- there's never a perfect week or a perfect quarter. A plan is used to point me in the right direction and when paired with regular check-ins, it allows me to constantly course correct.

Principles

Principles are foundational values that help guide me through day-to-day decisions. Having these pre-defined gives me a foundation to lean on when there's a lack of clarity. Principles are meant to be aspirational, meaning I'll fall short of them from time to time, but, they at least give me something to strive for. Different principles are used in different areas of life, for example, for work I have operating principles.

Defining these has taken quite a lot of self-reflection and ultimately they reflect what I find important. Here's what I've settled on:
1. Balance: Balance is important as it pushes me to focus on the bigger picture. I rather have a bit of everything in life (i.e. Health, Finances, Relationships, Work, and Experiences) than to be heavily skewed or deficient in an area. Balance ensures I avoid tunnel vision and prioritize integration.
2. Respect: Respect is important as it reminds me to treat myself and others well. It pushes me care about my surroundings while being more empathetic and understanding. Respect is meant to be mutual and it should go both ways (i.e. give and receive).
3. Growth: Growth is important as it pushes me to improve and be better. It constantly challenges me to see how far I can go. It's both a humbling and invigorating process.

These principles are listed in hierarchical order with Balance and Respect coming before Growth. The reason for this is that Growth often requires gaurdrails to ensure it's done in a healthy manner.

Here are some examples of how I might apply these principles in day-to-day decisions:
- If I'm engaging in an interaction that lacks respect, I'll either raise my concerns upfront or simply opt-out of the interaction.
- If I'm pursuing an opportunity that throws other parts of my life off balance (i.e. impacts my health, finances, or time spent with family), I'll decide to either not pursue it or to temporarily make a tradeoff with an explicit plan to regain balance.

Goals

Goals are things I'd like to achieve. Similar to Principles, having these pre-defined gives me direction and something to aim for. Goals are meant to be aspirational meaning I likely won't hit 100%, but, achieving 70-80% is pretty good.

I think of goals in two buckets:
1. Achievements These are the typical goals which follow the format of "Achieve X by Y date". They are meant to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (i.e. SMART goals). These are things that can be checked off of a list. Some examples are: "Buy a house", "Run a marathon", "Get a job that pays $X".
2. Habits These are things that need to be practiced every day. There's no specific timeline or single achievement, instead, it's about consistency and measuring how consistent you can be (i.e. a Duolingo streak or a code commit graph applied to all areas of your life). An example of this is measuring how consistent you are with your routine.

When it comes to making progress on goals, here are things that I've found helpful:
1. Small incremental steps: Goals should be small and incremental meaning it should be possible to break them down step by step. It's very easy to set an ambitious goal that never gets started so I've had to constantly remind myself that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
2. Get the first failure over with: The first step is always the hardest due to the fear of failure. What I've found is that the faster I can get the first failure over with, the quicker I can start making progress. So, jump in and pick yourself up from there.
3. Schedule dedicated time: Goals take consistent effort every day, so, it's important to ensure I carve out dedicated time in my routine for each goal. Progress is never made unless I schedule it.
4. Regular check-ins: It's important to have a regular cadence for setting and checking in on goals. Check-ins help you re-calibrate and ensure you're pointed in the right direction. To keep things simple, I follow the cadence I use for work goals which is setting quarterly goals with monthly check-ins.

Routine

Having a well defined routine helps me better control how my time and energy are spent. Similar to this handbook, my routine is structured around the different areas of life I find important. If it's important, I'll allocate time to it. Routines are about doing the same thing over and over again without getting bored. It's about making incremental progress each day rather than chasing one-off highs. A good routine is one that feels natural and engaging rather than forced or draining.

My routine has gone through several iterations with some being overly ambitious and impossible to stick to. Here's what I've currently settled on:

Activity Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Total Hours Total %
Health 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 77 45.8%
Sleep 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 56 33.3%
Eat 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 14 8.3%
Exercise 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7 4.2%
Work 8 8 8 8 8 2 2 44 26.2%
Lead 6 6 6 6 6 30 17.9%
Build 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 14 8.3%
Finances 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7 4.2%
Invest 1 1 1 1 1 5 3.0%
Admin 1 1 2 1.2%
Experiences 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 4.5 4.5 12 6.8%
Activities 4 4 8 4.8%
Language 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 4 2.1%
Write 1 1 1 1 1 5 3.0%
Plan 1 1 2 1.2%
Unscheduled 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 4.5 4.5 21.5 12.8%
Total 24 24 24 24 24 24 24 168.0 100.0%

Some notes about my routine:
1. Health is prioritized above everything else with sufficient time carved out to Sleep, Eat, and Exercise every day.
2. Work is scheduled on weekdays and is split into Lead and Build. Lead consists of activities related to leading a team (i.e. meetings, progress updates, planning, etc.). Build consists of activities related to making a product (i.e. coding, design).
where as Build consists of focus time.
3. Finances is split into Investing and Admin (i.e. Bills, Taxes). Investing happens on weekdays while Admin happens on weekends.
4. Experiences consists of daily Language Learning (i.e. DuoLingo) along with Activities on the weekends.
5. Writing is done on most days where I try to distill what I've learned into this handbook.
6. Planning is done twice a week and is used as a way for me to reset.
7. Unscheduled time is used for whatever I'd like including Experiences (Activities), Relationships (Family, Friends), Household chores, Work catch up, or just doing nothing.

When it comes to sticking to a routine, here are things that I've found helpful:
1. Flexibility: Things always come up that don't fit into this routine. When these things come up, I simply skip whatever is originally scheduled without feeling bad about it. Nearly all activities are repeated daily or weekly so missing an activity every so often isn't a big deal.
2. Explicit tradeoffs: If I miss an activity, I simply skip it rather than try to push my entire schedule back. If I have to make up for an activity, I make an explicit tradeoff with another activity. For example, "I'm skipping Exercise today and replacing it with Work".
3. Managing Energy Levels: My energy levels rise and fall throughout the day. I've found that working with my energy levels is a lot more effective than trying to work against it. My energy levels largely depend on Sleep, Eat, and Exercise. I've found that I can change the trajectory of my energy levels using (a) Sleep: taking a quick nap can help me reset, especially after eating when my glucose levels spike, (b) Walking: getting some fresh air is a great way to re-energize, (c) Exercise: working out can quickly ramp up my heart rate and energy levels. (d) Caffeine: the caffeine in coffee and tea are stimulants which increase alertness.