How do you track your systems and values?
My Monthly Review SOP
Many people have asked me this question after watching my life systems on Notion, so I want to share the monthly review system that helps me track my longer-term goals.
Why Conduct a Monthly Review?
- Take a step back from the day-to-day operations and review my life from a longer time horizon.
- Review my values and set new directions for life.
- Honor my past, recognize my present, and prepare my future.
Step 1: Review My 10 Pillars
I iterated on the Lifebook principles and developed the 10 pillars that work best for the current stage of my life:
For each pillar, I would ask myself the following two questions:
- Why do I believe what I believe?
- Were there any stories behind my current beliefs?
By asking these two questions, I can find out the core beliefs and replace the limiting ones with empowering beliefs. Do you know that the subconscious mind runs 95% of your life?
In addition to getting in touch with my internal dialogue, I will also update each pillar with the most updated resources:
Step 2: Create New Knowledge Trees
The sources of my knowledge trees come from my online classes and weekly reflections. In June, I completed four new online classes, one coaching program, and created a PM course for LivingOS University.
Step 3: Update PARA Master List
After consolidating my systems and knowledge, I would update my PARA master list.
Starting with projects, I would note the key progress, insights, and people. If any project is completed, I would go over a project completion checklist to archive the project. Then I will update my areas of responsibility accordingly.
Step 4: Review 1-Year Dream
I start by imagining the perfect day 1 year from now and identify what is missing. Then, I would create new areas or projects to address the missing parts.
Step 5: Housekeeping
This is sort of a catch-all for me to clean up all the loose ends, unstructured workspace, and random notes here and there. I don’t intend to finish this part because there is just too much stuff. I’d usually spend 30min cleaning up a few parts and call it a day.
Here are a few highlights of the month:
- Launched LivingOS University with the inaugural PM course. I can’t believe this baby is 1-month old already 🙌🏻
- Hired five awesome people (formal introduction coming soon) 💎
- Hosted 7 workshops on dream resume writing, design your career, group mentoring, confidence building, and PM interviews 🔑
- Coached 15 folks 🎉
- Got this pretty website built by Chris ❤️
- Article selected by editors and Medium staff 😎
- Interviewed and wrote stories for my book The Immigrant Hypothesis 📕
- Nailed an important interview 😬
And this is just the beginning of the awesome journey. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead!
Managing Time and Stress
I used to have a terrible relationship with time.
Even though I loved optimizing and creating, my relationship with time was manifested in my broken calendar. I used to miss meetings simply because I “forgot” to check the calendar.
It took me a while to trace this resistance back to my senior year of high school. During that dark age, I was overwhelmed with college admissions while trying to stay afloat at school. I didn’t have a college counselor, so I ran a lot of experiments based on random Internet advice. I had to fight hard to get things scheduled on my calendar.
Subconsciously, I developed an extremely stressful relationship with the calendar—the living proof of my constant anxiety and fear.
The old story I stopped telling myself.
Kelly McGonigal defines stress in her book The Upside of Stress as what arises when something you care about is at stake. “You don’t stress out about things you don’t care about, and you can’t create a meaningful life without experiencing some stress.”
This school of thought highlights how good stress can keep us alert. Yet I find it hard to navigate the line between being challenged and being overwhelmed.
Once I stopped telling myself that “stress is good,” my relationship with stress improved. I am now able to enjoy life more. Perhaps, stress is just a disempowering story we tell ourselves.
By practicing these 4 steps, you will be able to see stress in a new light.
- Take a deep breath. This will calm your nerves and expand your awareness.E.g. Take some deep breaths and meditate 30 minutes prior to an interview.
- Be aware of how stress affects your emotions and body. Notice how it may trigger flight-or-fight responses.E.g. Sometimes I’d get extremely upset about little things. I even asked Chris to ask the neighbors to be quiet. I asked myself: Was the noise really that loud, or was it just me being stressed by the upcoming interview?
- Recognize the source behind the stress. Why do you care so much about the things at hand? Why is it so important to you?E.g. I then reminded myself how far I had come to earn this opportunity. I celebrated the progress I had made along the way.
- Repurpose the stressful energy. Instead of worrying about the stress, can you shift the energy to deal with the situation at hand? How would someone who is good at stress management do differently?E.g. Now that I knew why I deserved this great opportunity, I was able to channel the stress into positive energy.
The result? I nailed the interview and went to take a good long nap!
Resistance points to what needs the most attention.
The sooner you acknowledge the problem and accept your past behaviors, the easier it is to move forward.
Here’s how I track my time:
- In addition to RescueTime, I tracked my workout, meditation, and sleep schedule on paper.
- I planned every activity with a buffer. For example, I would have a 30-min lie-down time to recover from the 60-min of hosting a workshop.
- I scheduled creativity time to coach people, write my book, and spend quality time with Chris every day.
- I scheduled positive things in my calendar to make it more delightful.
Clocking in 1000 creative hours
One of my experiments is to have 1,000 creative hours (which comes down to 4hrs every working day). I have managed to made 50% of my work creative, and I’m excited to share more lessons from this experiment with you after I hit the milestone.
If you want to improve your relationship with time, start by spending two weeks tracking everything. Then, you can find the plan that best fits your lifestyle.