Flow

Just-In-Time PM #8: Divergence and Convergence

In Part 7, I argued for the importance of interacting with information, instead of just passively consuming it. Interaction results in better learning at the same time as it creates valuable deliverables.

But incorporating all these new ideas about how work is completed – flow cycles and intermediate packets, downscoping and evolving deliverables, interaction over consumption – can be a little overwhelming.

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Just-In-Time PM #7: Interaction Over Consumption

In Part 6, I recommended treating any deliverable (whether it’s a simple email all the way to a full-fledged product) as a series of evolutionary artifacts, each one intended to test an assumption or make forward progress.

But there is a deeper reason for downscoping deliverables and then evolving them through a series of stages.

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Just-In-Time PM #6: Evolving Deliverables

In Part 5, I introduced The Iron Triangle of Project Management and the idea that any given deliverable can be reduced or expanded in scope at any time.

How should you use this newfound ability? You should use it to:

Get started
Maintain momentum
Test assumptions

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Just-In-Time PM #5: The Iron Triangle

In Part 4, I introduced the idea of “intermediate packets.” Instead of delivering value in a big project that spans huge amounts of time, we want to deliver it in smaller chunks at more frequent intervals.

This follows a basic principle that has revolutionized many industries: small batch sizes.

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Just-In-Time PM #4: Intermediate Packets

In Part 3, I argued that having a personal knowledge base is the linchpin of success in a creative economy.

A knowledge base allows you to reuse past work, draw from past experiences, share your knowledge in concrete form, and eventually, build products and services out of that knowledge.

This requires strategically structuring your work in the first place, as a series of what I call intermediate packets.

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Just-In-Time PM #3: Flow Cycles

In Part 2, I described the sublime and powerful experience of flow, which could be considered the “holy grail” of productivity.

I argued that there is theoretically no minimum amount of time necessary to get into flow, contrary to popular belief. But in reality, as always, it’s a bit more complicated. Let’s look at what this looks like in a typical working session of a couple hours.

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Just-In-Time PM #2: The Fundamentals of Flow

In Part 1, I introduced Return-on-Attention (ROA) as a way to evaluate how we invest our most precious resource – our attention.

But there is a key difference between investing money and investing attention. Units of currency are always uniform and interchangeable. Units of attention, on the other hand, are not at all created equal.

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PARA Part 6: Small-Batch Projects for Focus, Creativity, and Perspective

In P.A.R.A Part I, I argued that the Project List was the lynchpin of modern productivity, serving as a dashboard of your current commitments and the bridge between actionable and reference systems.

But formulating a Project List is also one of the most difficult exercises for most people to complete. And I’m not the only one to notice. David Allen has written:

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Progressive Summarization: A Practical Technique for Designing Discoverable Notes

Modern digital tools make it easy to “capture” information from a wide variety of sources. We know how to snap a picture, type out some notes, record a video, or scan a document. Getting this content from the outside world into the digital world is trivial.

It’s even easier to get content that is already digital from one app to another. We know how to copy and paste text, save an image from a webpage, archive an email attachment, or import a video file.

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The Topology of Attention

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that my work is really about attentional design. Becoming aware of attention. Shaping and directing it. Shifting its quality and inner experience. Leveraging it to produce work of real value. Tell someone what to do, they might be more productive for a day. Tell them what to pay attention…

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The World Beyond Your Head: How Distraction Shapes Who We Are

Matthew Crawford’s book The World Beyond Your Head (Affiliate Link) is the most important book I’ve read in quite some time. It makes a sweeping argument about what it means to be an ethical, autonomous human in the digital age. Crawford draws a strong connection from the distractions buzzing on our phones, to the evolving…

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