Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Effectively Focused: 3 - Summarize

Previous Post - 2: Categorize - group like items together

Principle #3: Summarize

Objective:  Summarize the end goal or tell a story that will help reach your goal. This week will introduce the basics what you should write down on your sticky notes and when to expand and break out your ideas into small pieces.


The sticky note real estate of 3 inches by 3 inches insists on brevity. So, what to write?

The very simple summary I encourage you to write:
  • Write the idea or end result of what you hope to achieve
You can add a qualifying adjective to give you even more clarity. I don't encourage using the verbs. This will come later in the Principle #5: Time Box phase as you are planning out your week. In short, use the noun to identify the end result you are hoping to achieve and summarize it. Actions (the verbs) can be endless. A final end result puts clarity and definition about what actions you need to take (or not take) in order to achieve there result.

And since examples are better than more words, here are some samples of how I use my sticky notes. 


In thise case there are no verbs, even in the detail section.  

The pink sticky note below is from my Home Energy Drain project of reviewing all items, purging, organizing and storing them for use. The blue sticky note is from my weekly cleaning list. I recycle this list for each week instead of checking it off and tossing it. I identified the tasks I needed to do in the task section.

A note on the sticky notes: depending on whether I use the sticky notes in my project book or on the wall version of the Backlog and Queue, I use the dividing line on each sticky note to help organize the information I put on the sticky note. The smaller side is where the Summary goes, the side with more room contains details or tasks.

One other little detail is that I like to stack the stickies in neat little "lists" and by utilizing this section, I can stack them neater. 

For the wall version, I put the Summary on the bottom of the sticky note so it will stack neater and the sticky notes won't fall over. 

For the book version, this is how I write the summary.

You will likely circle between categorizing and summarizing your work. You may end up making an entire category out of one of your stickies after you are able to get more clear about what you are trying to accomplish.

Again, keep your summaries as simple as possible.

Next Post - Principle 4: Prioritize - focus on work that aligns with your values and learn the art of saying "no"

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