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The 12 Week Year Adventure
Have you ever had the feeling that you’re just not living up to your potential? That your life isn’t anywhere near as good as it could be?
That’s basically my constant state of being.
I’m always on the hunt for new productivity tips though to help me get more out of my time and actually get stuff done. Even the stuff I don’t want to do, which of course is the hardest part because my subconscious mind is super good at convincing me to do other things.
If you’ve heard of it, I’ve probably tried it. Pomodoro method, time blocking, first things first, I’ve tried so so many.
One method I hadn’t heard of until recently was the 12 Week Year.
What is the 12 Week Year
The 12 Week Year is a method of productivity developed by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington and is explained in their book by the same title. They would say that it is more than a method, however. It is a life framework upon which you can build and use any other life-enhancing technique that you’d like to try. Cool.
It is described as a guide to creating results through focus, commitment, and accountability. Unlike a lot of other productivity books, it’s not just a book of theory but one that includes an actionable plan that you build as you read through it.
The core of the book can be summed down to 4 things:
1. Shorten the timeline on goals that you set
Most people set goals for themselves on an annual basis. By doing that you set yourself up for trouble because the first couple months of the year suddenly become freebies. It’s not a big deal if you don’t meet the monthly breakdown of your goals because you have a full year to make it up, right? Unfortunately, that means added stress down the line as well as a goal that is decreasing in its likelihood to be accomplished as your monthly goals increase to compensate for falling short earlier in the year.
2. Prioritize your time by blocking parts of it off through a weekly plan.
Moran recommends that in addition to planning the weekly activities that you need to get done for your job, you should also include 3 different types of time blocks.
- Strategic blocks for mission-critical tasks. This is the time set aside each week to work ON your business instead of in it.
- Buffer blocks at the beginning and end of each day. These are the time for doing the unplanned and “low-value” activities that pop up through the day that need to get done. Things like responding to email, voicemail, and non-critical check-ins with your team.
- Break-out blocks for keeping yourself inspired, creative, and in the productive mindset. This was a really interesting suggestion that I found surprising. Moran suggests taking time out of your week to do things that are not specifically work-related just to keep yourself clear headed for the rest of the week.
He also suggests breaking your goals down into specific “tactics” that are the most likely to help you reach your goal. Things, like keeping your daily calorie intake to 1200, drinking 8 glasses of water, and exercising at least 3 times a week, would be tactics that you’d use if you wanted to lose weight.
3. Measure your execution of the tactics weekly, and work to improve it.
One of the main themes of the book is that “Knowledge alone benefits no one unless the person acquiring it does something with it.”
I absolutely love that quote because I have had a terrible time up to now actually taking it to heart. As the consummate student, I feel like I just have to learn one more thing that will change my life, when in reality I just need the motivation to execute the things I already know.
The 12 Week Year forces you take a hard look at how well you actually executed the things you committed to yourself. But, if your score doesn’t measure up to what you want it to be, that’s okay! Improvement is the goal. As long as you keep working at it you’re still winning.
4. Focus your goals and join a community for accountability.
Accountability is stressed quite frequently in the 12 Week Year. Not as a tool for punishment, because that doesn’t work, but as a principle that you hold yourself to. Accountability is you asking yourself, “Is this the best that I can do?” and “What more can I do to get the result?”
Next, Moran suggests that in addition to measuring yourself, you should attend a weekly accountability meeting with other people also participating in the 12 Week Year. This meeting is supposed to be a motivational factor to help you get more things done. It’s also a way for you to trade tips about what is working for you and to get help with things that aren’t.
My 12 Week Year Plan
I’ll be trying out The 12 Week Year for… the next 12 Weeks. Since I’m not experienced with the program I’m only going to set one goal for myself this time. If everything goes well, I’ll look into setting more goals for my next 12 Weeks.
I actually technically started my first week on March 5th, so my end date is May 27th.
It’s going… okay. I’m still getting used to blocking my time and prioritizing my work so that I’m not constantly stopping to put out imaginary fires. I think I’ll get better with time though.
Have you done a 12 Week Year?
Do you have experience with The 12 Week Year? How did you like it? Are you planning on trying one? Tell us about it in the comments!