Saturday, February 20, 2016

Planned vs. Emergent Doing

I've had a few months of more intensive self-reflection than usual, and usual level is pretty high level for me too. There's goals in life I'm being coached at, and one of my major goals is to find my focus. I'm all over the place, looking for the common thread and dropping stuff were the thoughts I started from.

I tried very hard to make a plan for myself, but plans rarely work out. When I plan to organize a meetup and put it in a calendar promising I will deliver a talk there, that works for things that can be event-driven. But there's other stuff too.

We had a time management session for the Software Testing Finland crowd, and the speaker there suggested to put stuff in calendar. Reserve slots for things you need to do. I tried that, and messed up my calendar completely. Because, most of the stuff I need to do does not have to follow a plan, but an inspiration.

When I test, I see what are the things I try to avoid (e.g. testing stuff made by a developer who fights back with everything I say) and I push myself to make space for those. I see what are things that I feel strongly about (e.g. fast feedback and making things available for production in shortest possible loops)a and I naturally give space for those. I see things that are short term and long term benefits, and I balance my progress to include a mix of each. I value helping others over doing my own "responsibility", but work to balance both into a mix.

When planning failed, what I did was that I listed the things in life I want to take forward. I ended up with 28 items, none of them are small, more like themes: "Change the world of conferences", "Startup dreams", "Teaching programming to mom's and daughters",  "Writing my blog", "Writing paid articles", "Exercise", "Family and friends" and so on. And instead of planning what I would do, I just let my plan emerge and document it.

For a month now, I've been doing stuff I feel inspired on for various reasons. I've followed my fears, I've carried my responsibilities towards others and been inspired by things I could not foresee but that fit my overall idea of life. My balance sheet keeps me true to my overall goal. It's my emergent plan, my anchor I can reflect against to see what themes I've driven forward. I've marked down each day which themes have had my attention, and I see things I've worked more and less on. And I can decide what to do with it, or if I just want to let it be as it is.

I don't believe in multitasking. But I believe in a continuous flow of delivered value. This is it for my personal and work life. I live in the moment and that is how I get all of the things done,