The Agenda Habit
Holding a habit.
It feels like now more than ever we need to hold on to our rituals.
There’s the morning coffee ritual, the reading emails before 9 am ritual, the 5 am gym ritual, the meditation ritual, and the ritual to follow the latest in ritual harvesting.
How can you make it a ritual to update what keeps all your other rituals in place?
The key is the power of attitude. But what is the right approach?
Ritual flavors vary from person to person.
Some people are very strict with their rituals that the slightest serendipitous occurrence triggers their anxiety.
Then there are those who think they cannot keep to a ritual at all, even though chances are they harvest inconspicuous little rituals here and there (i.e., like checking your phone or iCal when you wake up).
The right attitude is admitting that without action nothing happens, and the first step to taking action is checking your attitude towards your goals.
Here’s where the agenda has a role.
We started with the green one now we're here
Why always an agenda?
Many people think of agendas as the typical at-a-glance black book marketed for business use with its .5mm lines you can't fit half a word. Constrained to little blocks where your big ideas are not really at a glance, limiting you to Mon.-Fri. Planning -- and seriously, what happened to Saturday and Sunday?
In reality, an agenda is a deck of simplistic sheets whose purpose is to enable the action of your hand illustrating all the little knots cataloged in your brain.
The day I fixed my attitude about what an agenda is, I was able to understand the relationship between my overarching action to achieve my daily, weekly, and monthly goals. It taught me how to respect them because the glaring list of things not "done, served as a reminder of what I was procrastinating. Eventually, I began to see patterns in my thought-process, which led me to come up with systems to fix them.
I’ve had all sorts of agendas and even supported newer formats on crowdfunding campaigns only to conclude that an agenda isn't a place of thought confinement, but of liberation by organized chaos.
Agendas play an essential role in reflecting our thoughts and understanding ourselves a little better concerning productivity. But this is not the only significant effect it has on our psyche.
Yes! There are actual benefits!
One of the obvious benefits of keeping an agenda is its ability to support healthy organization.
It also teaches you to be present with your ideas and is a great way to build autonomy from digital sensory overload.
Building a relationship with your agenda is genuinely cultivating a relationship with yourself.
Dedicating a couple of minutes to ink your thoughts on paper not only has a calming effect, but it also improves cognitive skills. You're not just stacking logic you're becoming logical.
In an article published by Mashable in 2015, Dr. Marc Seifer, a graphologist and handwriting expert who wrote The Definitive Book of Handwriting Analysis (2008), shared that one top benefit of writing by hand is improved memory.
I've found that in a world where everything is a distraction from creative mindfulness, keeping an agenda has given me the stepping stone to practice meditation with my expectations. I've seen my creativity improved because it forces me to be present.
How does this sorcery work!?
One word: I t e r a t i o n
It's not sorcery, friend, and this is where the actual ritual comes to motion.
The first step is defining your goals and your immediate to-do lists.
For defining my goals, one of my straightforward techniques is drawing up a Venn diagram connecting: Work, Communications, and Me. In the center are my aspirations. Here’s an example of how this chart branched in 2016 in our office.
It all started with one circle and 2016
The next step is taking that list of immediate priorities and categorizing them into the Venn diagram’s sections.
Define which are work and communications, communications and "me," and work and "me" related, and most importantly, list things for personal growth.
Don't worry about not understanding what goes in each section, just worry about arranging them where you think makes sense.
The third step is practicing the 20/80 rule so that you can begin to feel a sense of accomplishment in broad strokes. Think of it this way: which 20% of all of your activities generate 80% of positive results.
You feel it, right? The build-up of not knowing which is your 20%. It can seem like an abyss. But relax, you will not be required to do the math.
This build-up is unawareness. We tend to focus this 20% on just work-related tasks, presuming that once we’re done with our commitments, we are free to concentrate on ourselves.
Almost all sense of accomplishment comes from the tangible knowing that YOU fulfilled something, so the bottom line is always YOU.
Our commitments will still be there, but our energy won't, so the first tasks you need to take care of are yours! For me is writing. Oh. My. God. The existential dread builds up as I type.
But I've learned that we also have a commitment to ourselves that is just as important, and leaving other areas that feed our passions and intentions neglected will contribute to a feeling of blah.
Work will always have its fires; clients will always call asking for something new. Reacting to this stimuli without order will drain you quicker than what it takes to practice your agenda ritual.
Lessons are learned! And one of those is selecting at least one aspiration/affirmation from each section of the Venn diagram to keep things sweet.
We know what you’re thinking, what if you have a very long To-Do list to accomplish?
We’ve been there and the list will just keep on growing if you don’t practice boundaries iteration.
It sounds dorky, but thank the sticky gods for post-it.
We have a long papyrus list of things to do, but by practicing the 20/80 rule, we grab only the tasks that generate the most favorable results and whatever fits into a 4x4’ post-it is what will be executed for the day.
It’s matured to be a game amongst our colleagues. If we complete all tasks on the post-it, we get rewarded. Usually, we do since only about four lines of text fit into one of those yellow squares of happiness.
This method forces you to filter with a laser focus on that 20/80 rule.
Ultimately, we have to face the fact that there’s only a limited attention span in a day for big tasks, and this particular iteration is a great way to understand your batching bandwidth (more on this in the next blog).
At the end of the week, we reflect on our progress.
Our agendas vary depending on the type of person, some use Moleskines others actual calendars, but no matter what, before the end of the week, we sit down to plan our goals for the following week. At the end of the month, we set forth our intentions.
We’ve gotten to the point now where our agenda ritual has become the most significant actionable step on Mondays.
One day we realized that our agenda ritual was just 10% of work in the morning which generated 90% of our week’s roadmap!
So stay calm, our Karmic Culture agendas are coming.