A year ago, I announced a new productivity experiment and invited you to join in. I created a simple spreadsheet where I would track 3 areas of my life on a weekly basis:
- Challenges (like 30 day challenges to form new habits)
- Focus skills
A year has passed and so it's time to look back and asses: did this productivity experiment work? Should I have done things differently?
Let's find out!
As you can tell from the video, my results from this experiment were mixed. And they were mixed in ways I didn't expect.
First, I didn't follow through - I didn't keep using the spreadsheet for the entire year.
That's in part just a lack of consistency on my part (told you I have this problem) and it's in part because I felt like it just wasn't working for me.
But looking back, I can tell that while it felt like the productivity tracking sheet wasn't doing anything for me, it did clearly yield some positive results.
The only thing that really didn't work in the experiment was tracking challenges on a weekly basis. I use other tools to track challenges and habits on a day-by-day basis and that's just far more effective.
But both the "focus skills" and the "books" parts of the tracking sheet had a clear, positive effect for me. My 2018 was better thanks to using this tracking sheet for a few months. I read far more books than usual and I learnt some new physical skills, despite a fairly lackluster training regimen.
My Favorite Books of 2018
Speaking of books: 2018 was one of my best years in terms of finding, reading and being inspired by books.
Here's a short list of some of my favorite reads from the past year:
- Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari - this book made me wish I could keep seeing the world as I saw it while I was immersed in reading. I mourn everything I forget about this book already.
- Selfie by Will Storr - this book surprised me. Look at the title and read the blurb and you'll expect a certain narrative from this book. Read the book and get much more than that.
- Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier - this book is required reading for anyone working online. Actually, it's required reading for anyone with a smartphone.
- Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus by Douglas Rushkoff - this book pairs perfectly with the one above. Jaron Lanier lays out the consumer perspective and Douglas Rushkoff reveals the business side of the problems in the tech industry.
- Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker - hands down the best resource on sleep you can get.
- The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle - if you work with teams, read this book. This is the book I wish I'd had, before I started hiring people.
- What Doesn't Kill Us by Scott Carney - an odd one out in this list (although by far not the oddest book I read in 2018). This is an entertaining read about physical extremes and how they can help the human body thrive.
The Real Treasure
The story cliché is that the treasure you sought was inside you all along. I have a similar conclusion to my 2018 experiment - which failed but still succeeded, somehow.
The real treasure isn't in the specific tracking sheet that I shared at the beginning of 2018. It's not in any of the tools I use to track my habits and keep myself productive. It's in a general attitude of experimentation. It's in a "mad scientist" approach to life: try things out, see what happens and keep making adjustments that steer you towards your goals.
That is, above all, what I encourage you to do. Create your own experiment for 2019. Give it a go, even if you're not sure whether it will be great or a total waste of time.
Leave a comment letting me know what you're experimenting with in 2019. And also: I'd love to hear about your favorite books from lately.