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Weekend Upgrade (by R.J. Nestor)

Weekend Upgrade 50: Play Your PART

Published 2 months ago • 5 min read

Happy Groundhog Day… and Friday!

It’s Groundhog Day… again

This edition of Weekend Upgrade is a milestone: number fifty! To celebrate, I’ll indulge a (brief) glance back almost two years to Weekend Upgrade 2: Again and Again and Again and….

Today, February 2, is Groundhog Day. Edition two of Weekend Upgrade uses the movie Groundhog Day and its constant repetition of the same day, over and over, as a way to discuss recurrence in our work and lives.

Since writing that back in 2022, I’ve become even more deeply convinced of the power of recurrence. My approach to productivity—Action-Powered Productivity—includes tools to Capture Recurrence™ and leverage it to make your work easier. The most important of those tools are Productivity Bridges: templates, procedures, recurring tasks, automations, or other structures that increase the speed, accuracy, and quality of future work.

Cycles are repetition too

Here’s another quick look back. In Weekend Upgrade 30: Action-Powered Productivity Cycles, I explored how the same cycle governs work in the moment, day-to-day, week-to-week, within projects, and so forth.

In this edition, I will provide a new framework built on that idea, but which is more broadly applicable. Note the iteration (repetition in service of improvement) inherent in this: I’m taking something I shared 40+ weeks ago and building something better from it. Capturing recurrence is leverage in many different ways!

💡 Play your PART 💡

👆 That’s your weekend upgrade.

In addition to being drawn upon past Weekend Upgrades, the content below is also adapted from my upcoming book The Rhythms of Productivity.

PART, as you may have surmised, is an acronym: Prepare, Act, Review, and Tune. I’ll describe each step, and then explore how they apply to various time frames and entities in your productivity toolkit.

Prepare

When you prepare, you gather materials and resources. You define objectives. You plan your approach. You set up your physical and digital workspace, and you also make sure you’re in the right mindset for the work ahead. Preparation doesn’t shackle you, it frees you. When it’s time to act, you’re not trapped by your plan, but empowered to adapt to whatever arises.

Act

When you act, you dive into work in front of you with focus and determination. You engage fully with tasks, you work your way through daily agendas, you execute weekly intentions, you embody the roles you play in your work and life. Taking action isn’t rigid—the plan you created is a flexible framework that guides you but allows you to respond to inevitable change.

Taking action means working “one level down.” If you are in a PART cycle from moment-to-moment, it’s executing the work itself. If you are in a PART cycle at the day level, it’s executing the agenda as you proceed through it. If you are in a PART cycle at the week level, it’s assembling an agenda that aligns with the objectives of the week.

Review

When you review, you reflect and learn. You look at what you did, ask yourself “how can I do that better next time?” or “what additional work is required now that the previous work is finished?” Reviews provide feedback, which you can use to capture recurrence and improve your work over time.

Tune

When you tune, you update your work and workflows to reflect what you learned in your review. You fine-tune tools, strategies, and mindsets. You calibrate your attention to “close out” what you just did and “look forward” to what’s next. You update calendars, transform templates, create procedures.

Tuning means working “one level up.” If you are in a PART cycle from moment-to-moment, it’s looking back to the daily agenda to reorient yourself and move to what’s next. If you are in a PART cycle at the day level, it’s combining information from your review of today with your intentions from the week to set the stage for the next prepare phase—planning tomorrows agenda. If you are in a PART cycle at the week level, it’s looking up to your projects, roadmaps, or roles and ensuring you’re ready to prepare for next week with the big picture in mind.

Your PART exists at every level of your toolkit

The rhythm of your productivity is largely defined by the interaction between these cycles. Some interact directly—your week, day, and now cycles all touch each other as they look “one level up or down.” But cycles based on entities in your toolkit like roles or projects should operate on their own independent cycles, activated by the tasks that are tied to them, tuned by the workflows that allow you to review them.

Here are a few quick examples of this concept at work.

In the Moment (Now cycles)

Prepare: Choose what task to tackle next and set the stage for that action by gathering materials and focusing on the right mindset for that work.

Act: Execute the work itself.

Review: Look at the work you did and ask yourself, “How can I do that work better next time?”

Tune: If your review phase suggested any improvements, either build a productivity bridge or capture a task to build one. Also put away the materials from the current task and reorient to the daily agenda.

Day-to-Day

Prepare: Assemble your agenda based on the appointments on your calendar and the tasks scheduled for tomorrow.

Act: Execute the agenda, with the understanding that you need to adapt to unexpected changes.

Review: Reflect on what you accomplished, what you didn’t accomplish, and why. Ask yourself, “What can I do better next time?”

Tune: Based on your review phase, reschedule tasks, build bridges (or capture tasks to build bridges), then reorient yourself to the weekly intentions so you’re ready to prepare the next day’s agenda.

Week-to-Week

Prepare: Plot out your intentions for the week based on active projects, roadmaps, and roles.

Act: Execute your weekly plan through daily agendas, knowing that you will need to adapt to changes that arise as the week progresses.

Review: At the week’s end, assess what you did and did not accomplish. Ask yourself, “What did I do that I can do better next time?” and “What didnt I do that I can make easier so I’ll be more likely to do it next time?”

Tune: Update work and workflows based on what you learn in the review. Look to your projects and roles to calibrate your productivity toolkit.

Projects

Prepare: Define the scope, objectives, and timeline. Assemble information and resources. Sketch and/or schedule tasks.

Act: Execute the project through its tasks, taking notes where needed and adapting to changing circumstances.

Review: At regular intervals and at the project’s completion, review what you’ve done and determine what you can do to improve the current project or future iterations of the project.

Tune: Calibrate your current work on the project or assemble templates and procedures to make the project more productive in future iterations.

Roles

Prepare: Identify a role you play—an identity you embody in your work and life. What is that role’s job description? What intentions does the role imply, and what actions will fulfill those intentions?

Act: Execute the role through the projects associated with it. Embody it with action.

Review: At regular intervals, review each role and the action associate with them. Are you fulfilling the role to the best of your ability? What can you do better?

Tune: Based on your review phase, calibrate your roles. If you have roles with no action, either create projects to fulfill those roles or eliminate those roles from your toolkit. If you have action that doesn’t fit any role, either create roles for that action or eliminate that action from your work.

What do I do next?

(1) Take 2 minutes and answer this question: What’s one thing I learned in this newsletter that I can put into practice right away?

By committing to a specific action, you make it much more likely you’ll do it.

(2) Look at the PART cycles in your own work and life.

Do you prepare for work moment to moment? Do you review and tune your days? Do you play your PART with your projects and roles? And if you dont, consider how you might use the PART method to be more specific with in the different layers of your productivity toolkit.

If this was valuable for you:

Share the newsletter with someone you think would also get value from it! https://rjn.st/weekend-upgrade-newsletters

Until next time, friends:

All the world’s a stage, and you should play your PART!

R.J.
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Weekend Upgrade (by R.J. Nestor)

Weekend Upgrade provides tools to improve your productivity and communication, especially if you use Tools for Thought like Roam Research, Amplenote, Logseq, or Obsidian.

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