Previously, I’ve spoken about project management and micro-services as being analogous to life management. To me, these have seemed to be really functional and so very helpful to my thought process regarding the goals I have set for myself in life. I hope that in some small way they’ve helped you to envision the things you want to change in your own life, and how you may be able to approach those changes as well.
In this, the third installment of the “My Life as IT Code” series, I’ll take those ideas, and try to explain how I visualize and organize my approach. From a project manager’s perspective, the flowchart has always been an important tool. The first step is to outline a precedence diagram, such as the one I created for a past project. It was a replication and disaster recovery project for a large, multi-site law firm that had leveraged VMware-based virtual machines, a Citrix remote desktop, and storage-to-storage replication to maintain consistent uptime. I broke individual time streams into flowcharts, giving the individual stakeholders clear indications of their personal tasks. I organized them into milestones that related to the project as a whole. I delivered both as Gantt Charts and flow charts to show how the projects could be visualized, revealing time used per task, as well as the tasks that I discretely broke into their constituent parts.
This same technique is applicable to some of these life hacks. While it can be difficult to assign timeframes to weight loss, for example, the milestones themselves can be quite easy to demarcate. There are, with some creative thinking, methods by which one may be able to achieve viable metrics against which progress can be marked, and effective tools for the establishment of reasonable milestones can be elucidated.
There are great tools to aid in exercise programs, which enforce daily or weekly targets, and these are great to leverage in one’s own plan. I have one on my phone called the seven-minute workout. I also note my daily steps, using the fitness tracker application on both my phone and on my smartwatch. The growth of these tools, along with the use of a scale, can show a graphic progress along the path to your goals. Weight loss is never a simple downward slope, but rather a decline that tends toward plateaus followed by restarts. However, as your progress does move forward, so, in turn, does the use of a graphical representation of your weight loss to encourage more work along those lines. For me, the best way to track progress is by using a spreadsheet, graphing on a simple x/y axis, which provides an effective visualization of progress. I do not suggest paying rigid attention to the scale, as these plateaus can be detrimental to the emotional effect of how one sees one’s progress.
I’ve never been a runner, but the ability to define distance plans, time to these distances, and delineations of the progress along those paths are most easily translatable to a flowchart. It’s important to know what you’re doing. Rather than saying things like, “I’m going to lose 40 lbs in 2018,” a more effective strategy is to focus on specifics, such as, "I plan on walking 10,000 steps per day, or five miles per day." It is easier and more impactful to adhere to smaller, more strategic commitments.
Meanwhile, the creation and attention to the flow chart is a hugely effective tool to help keep a person on track. It helps them pay attention to their goals, and gives them visibility into their progress. Once you have that, you can celebrate when you reach the milestones you have set for yourself.
As I’ve stated, the flowchart can be an amazing tool. And when you look at life goals with the eyes of a project manager, you give yourself defined timeframes and goals. The ability to visualize your goals, milestones, and intent can really assist in keeping them top of mind.