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System V8

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I have talked previously about my system when I marked it as "System V5" which was the 5th iteration on the base system. Now it is on the 8th iteration, and there is a reason to shift towards this iteration.

Why create a system in the first place?

We all want to achieve certain milestones in our lives whether it is reading X number of books, starting a company, or achieving a certain thing you always wanted (example: getting a promotion or achieving X sales in a year).

There is no doubt that you would need a structure or plan to achieve those milestones. Imagine doing something without organizing your thoughts into a doable step-by-step plan? How long would you last till you find out that you have wasted your time doing nothing and reached nowhere because you don't know where to start?

Not all systems are created evenly

There is no system that would fit to do everything and I have learned that through multiple iterations on my own system. I tried copying other people but what they do might not suite me (and vice versa).

While they might seem similar in a couple of points but not in everything and that is due to the fact that there are more than one factor involved in the equation which are: time available, energy, discipline, and interests.

My time might be shorter but my interests might be broader than that person I wanted to copy and you can't copy my system because you might have more time than I do hence you can fit more events in the day.

Why version number 8?

You might be wondering: why you jumped from version 5 to version 8 all the sudden? To be fair, I did modify the system with minor changes but they weren't critical like using a specific app to handle a specific part of the system or increase/decrease a task from the list.

The jump to V8 happened when I started journal number 8, I have made a promise in the introduction section of journal 8 that I am going to change a lot of things in my life hence made both of them on the same version (and yes I write introductions in my journals. It is a mark that I am starting something new where every journal I have written records a transition of that change and the introduction serves as a reminder of what are the issues that I am aiming to solve in the upcoming journal).

If you want to read about System V5 then it is available here

I have been harsh on myself

I didn't realize that I have been harsh on myself till it was pinpointed out by friends of mine during a breakfast hangout and both of them were right. Like imagine having 10+ tasks on your todo list and you try to juggle between them excluding the main ones like reading, journaling, meditating, and much more.

When journal number 7 ended, I reflected on this point deeply and decided to restructure everything from scratch. Started with removing the unnecessary tasks that I have assigned to myself and decided to focus on the main objective: starting my own SaaS based company in a year. Then I started to point out the tasks that I should be doing to achieve this objective which are: infrastructure, brand identity, and public presence.

For infrastructure, I have decided to create a system that would manage my workflow and facilitate things easier for the business to run smoothly but one upper advantage that the company will accept Bitcoin only, this marks it as one of the few Lebanese SaaS based companies that accept only Bitcoins as payment.

For brand identity then I will be contacting a designer to do the job.

For public presence then the blog and podcast will play a huge role where I will be growing my online presence sharing my knowledge humbly online which is acquired by previously learned material from courses and work experience.

Now it is time to drop everything that was taking over my attention and create a system that would cultivate those points in a way that it won't stress nor burn me down. This is when I have decided it is time to upgrade my system all together starting from the milestones and sprints to identities and rituals.

The end of milestones and counts

In V5 I have mentioned milestones extensively where it is the base structure of the entire system. In V8 there are no longer milestones to achieve but mainly focusing on the core idea of doing the action than the count of the action.

Take for example writing 100 blog posts. While you can write 100 blog posts in a year, that wouldn't classify you as a proper writer because you didn't focus on the craft but instead you have focused on writing X posts in a specific time slot. It is like those writers who write a lot of erotic porn novels because the publisher made a good amount of sales from them and wanted to make more money by writing sequels, are those novels of good value? I'll leave that for you to decide (and if you don't believe me that those things do exist then google search "Kissing the corona virus" and find the Goodreads page, it has 4 sequels with more than 2K+ reviews in less than 2 years).

The main point is that the focus will no longer be on the count but the action instead. Instead of writing 100 blog posts, the main goal is to become a writer and write articles of value that would benefit others even if it means that the count will be way less than what you have in mind.

This doesn't work on books, my yearly goal hasn't change from the 52 books/year milestone and I have accomplished it without any issues for the past 2 years hence numbers are not going away on my reading challenge.

The end of sprints

In V5 I have mentioned that I would cut my year into sprints in 3 categories: Quarterly, Monthly, and Weekly.

In V8 there are no sprints. It hasn't benefited me at all and it was a hassle to maintain several sprints and quarter sprints. It would be ideal to forget about sprints all together and focus on the main goal.

Rituals

I used to make fun of rituals since it was mentioned in all cheesy self help books but decided to give it a try.

Ironically it worked, I have made two main rituals: a morning ritual and an evening ritual. The morning ritual is waking up early, reading for 1 hour, meditating, walking to work, light morning exercising session, and no access to any social media apps and email. The evening ritual is reading for 1 hour, journaling, meditating, and sleeping early.

I tried it for a week and it boosted my productivity even at work.

Creating a ritual to do a certain action does bring momentum since it puts you in the zone to do a certain task. When I sit on my work desk, prepare my gear properly, place a pomodoro timer on my phone, and do my cup of coffee then I have conditioned myself that it is work mode and it is time to write code efficiently.

Rituals can be anything but it is a series of small steps that you have to do to put yourself in a certain mode of deep work.

Restrictions

I have decided to go on a social media detox and decrease caffeine consumption.

For the caffeine consumption, I used smaller coffee portions and smaller cups to trick myself that I have drank a full cup, no caffeine based drinks after 3 pm no matter what it is since the half-life of coffee is around 6 hours (that means half of the portion you have consumed of coffee takes 6 hours) which it would interrupt my sleep schedule.

As for social media, I have added app restrictions and different focus modes on my iPhone which reflects on my MacBook Pro and iWatch respectively. When I arrive at work or at 9 am sharp my phone activates work mode which restricts all apps except for email and podcasts while giving permission to my co-workers to call me till 6 pm where it disables this mode. At the gym my phone activates fitness mode which removes all notifications except for the fitness app on my iWatch. When I arrive home my phone activates personal mode which restricts all notifications then it shifts to sleep mode automatically on 12 am which blocks everything and turns every device I have to a piece of brick. (All these modes remove the app badges on all apps which is awesome).

Restricting myself on social media removed a lot of stress and clutter out of my life, it is true that I am spending less online yet I am missing out on friends and family updates. The most active social media app I am using these days is Twitter but I use an app called Fenix which removes those famous algorithm based posts and shows my followers posts chronologically with no warnings and popups (Twitter lists is an under-rated feature, I don't have to follow everyone but I can add people to lists and follow the ones I like to follow).

Identity reflection

This point is discussed extensively in James Clear's book Atomic Habits. Let's say that you want to stop smoking and you are building a habit to quit smoking all together, instead of saying "I am quitting smoking" you will say "I am a non smoker".

Although both sentences indicate that you are not going to smoke yet they weight differently. The first one indicates that you are a smoker but you are cutting off at the moment but the second one indicates that you no longer smoke anymore.

When creating a habit, you should inform an identity reflection on yourself before starting then ask yourself: "what would this person do?". Say you want to become a writer, what is the minimum requirement to be identified as a writer? You would write a minimum of 1000 words in a day.

Identify what are the habits you wish to create then create an identity of what person you will be classified based on the habit and write what would that person do to achieve this identification.

Take a break, go touch the grass

One of my biggest issues is burning out. I burn out fast because I don't utilize breaks properly. I used to work 16 hours a day, trying to maximize work as much as possible.

Now I give myself a break to go out the house and ditch the screen, I go walking around Beirut from time to time and I regularly go to the gym during weekdays.

While it is nice to maximize your work time but it won't be nice when you face a burnout that could last 2 months paralyzing you to a point that you don't have the mental strength to do the things you like. Ask yourself: "is this worth it at the current moment?" High chance it is not, hence dedicate time to go out with friends or your beloveds.

We don't have a lack of motivation but a lack of clarity

We think that we don't have any source of motivation to do a certain task but in reality we lack clarity on how to do the task. Ironically people resolve towards motivation self help books and YouTube videos but in reality it can be solved by writing things down on a piece of paper.

Imagine reading 52 books in a year, it is a big number and trying to guess what to start and where to start will waste your time. If you clarified the situation that you can read a book a week then you can accomplish 52 books in one year since one year is 52 weeks. Great! But a book has around 300-500 pages, how are you going to read those? You can read between 45-65 pages in a day then you can finish a book in a week then read around 25 pages in the morning and 25 pages at night for 1 hour total. After writing those steps down in a clear manner, would you slack off? You won't, these are the steps that I have did to read 52 books from the last 2 years.

Write actionable bit sized tasks for those big sized tasks, it will clarify things up and makes the process smoother. Those small tasks will accumulate over each other and leave a big impact.

How does System V8 fits here?

Pretty simple: do simple habits throughout the day and categorize them.

System V8 is more psychological than physical, the setup is way much simpler than V5 because it can be achieved in any application (even on a piece of paper) hence you can do it in your app of choice whether it is Notion, Todoist, Things 3, and much more.

To make the system work, do those three things on repeat:

  • a morning ritual
  • a evening ritual
  • a small task list

You can create smaller lists for your sub ritual acts like a list to do before starting work but that is up for you to decide.

The task list should not be longer than 5 manageable tasks, anything more than 5 tasks is an overkill and it can be simplified.

And that is it, that is System V8. No bluff no fancy actions, it is a list of 2 rituals and a daily task list of your choice.

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