You can’t improve what you don’t track ⏲️

As part of a recent online book club, I spent my last three weeks re-reading Darren Hardy’s “The Compound Effect” on my Kobo eReader.

«No gimmicks. No Hyperbole. No Magic Bullet. The Compound Effect is based on the principle that decisions shape your destiny. Little, everyday decisions will either take you to the life you desire or to disaster by default. Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, presents The Compound Effect, a distillation of the fundamental principles that have guided the most phenomenal achievements in business, relationships, and beyond. This easy-to-use, step-by-step operating system allows you to multiply your success, chart your progress, and achieve any desire.»

I enjoyed it the first time I read it, but somehow I didn’t get to apply much of the advice. This time I went through it with that intention in mind. I’ve been feeling I should improve some areas of my life and so this was a great opportunity to put it to the test.

What I really like about the compound effect (the effect itself, not the book), is that you don’t need big changes (which often we fail to start or maintain). Rather, it’s all about the small things we can do on a consistent basis.

But we can’t improve what we don’t track. So I bought myself a new journal to exclusively dedicate for tracking progress and planning and setting intentions for my days. (Paper, of course, nothing works better than paper :))

I began by identifying a few key areas where I wanted to improve:

  • spirituality
  • exercise
  • reading/listening to inspiring/spiritual or personal development material
  • gardening work
  • career

For each, I set what I call the minimum acceptable value, which is the target I set myself to achieve before 1st September. After that date, I’m hoping that by tracking daily progress I can improve further. But if not, the compound effect will work its magic on the long run 🙂

Spirituality: 30min /day of meditation + 1 silence day /month
Exercise: 100pushups/day + 20min active exercise/day
Reading/Listening: 20min/day
Gardening Work: 10min/day
Career: 1 educational video/day
Finances: have an emergency fund + begin a long-term savings fund and a savings plan

Although I decided to track daily, my days tend to be quite different from each other. So what I am currently doing is to sum up and do a daily average at the end of each week. I then compare from week to week if I am moving forward or backwards.

Again, these are the minimums I consider essential to maintain regularly. I know I will do some of these much more than the minimum, and others I will have to discipline myself a bit. Besides theses targets, I also identified a few key actions/projects to take on each of these topics to improve them further.

Darren also brings our attention to bad habits which undermine our progress and end up creating bad results in our life (the compound effect acting negatively).
One of the major ones I identified for me was the excessive time wasted in the phone. Now keep in mind I have no instagram, no facebook, no twitter or other social apps on the phone. I read reddit or twitter very rarely by using the phone browser. Still, reading news or discord discussions ended up taking too much time. By using the phone’s own tools, I set limits on daily usage (30min) for a few apps, to make sure I limit screen time. Loading the kobo with some new books, keeping it charged and in my bag, also helps in reading more productive things when unexpected windows of free-time show up.

Apart from this, I also took many ideas from Darren’s daily routine for my own. I’ve been sticking going to bed at 22h30, not wasting so much time in useless activities, and waking up at 5h30-06h00. One of Darren’s morning activities which I’ve also began doing is what he calls ‘Daily Calibration’. I do mine at around 7h30 and it’s a sort of daily review and plan, before we actually start the day. His own daily calibration is about

  • reviewing the top 3 one-year and five-year goals
  • reviewing the quarterly objectives
  • reviewing the top goal for the week and month
  • set three priorities for the day

I especially like the last one, which he calls MVP (most valuable priorities). These are the 3 things that we absolutely must do today. So, even if the rest of the day is total chaos full of surprises, as long as you do those 3, you will at least feel that you moved important pieces in your life/work forward.

I ended up incorporating some of these (and other small tips) on my weekly-review as part of the GTD methodology.

So far this has been great. I love implementing new things, but often abandon them after sometime due to difficulty in keeping up with all the demands. The compound effect makes it simpler and accessible, because it actually prevents you from thinking in big changes. The secret is in all the small, consistent steps.

Looking forward for more 🙂

2 thoughts on “You can’t improve what you don’t track ⏲️

  1. Catarina Castro Oliveira

    Gostei muito da partilha honesta!
    Vou pesquisar o livro.
    Esse diário que compraste, tem esquemas próprios, ou é só de paginas em branco?


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