Day 5 – Hot Spots – Map Out What’s Important

“One reason so few of us achieves what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.”—Tony Robbins

Your Outcome: Learn how to use Hot Spots to create a simple map of what’s going on in your life.  Use your Hot Spots map as a way to invest your time and energy where it really counts, and to know that you’re on your path.
Welcome to day 5 of 30 Days of Getting Results.  Inday 4, we look at letting things go with skill.  Today, we look at mapping out what’s important.  I call this practice Hot Spots and it’s from my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
Hot Spots are a way to see the forest from the trees.  The simplest metaphor is to think of your life as a heat map.  Take a moment to actually imagine a heat map.  On this heat map, if I were to ask you, what’s going on at work, what would you see?   If I were to ask you, what’s going at home, what would you see?  If I were to ask you to step back and look across your life, what would you see?
I used those three levels for a reason: work, home, and life.  Your ability to quickly see what’s going on in each area of your life, will help you make better trade-offs across the board.
Mental Model for Hot Spots
Here is a simple mental model for thinking about your Hot Spot map:
There are three things to notice here:
  1. There are three separate lists: Life Frame, Work, and Personal.  These are three simple lists that help you figure out what’s going on in your life.
  2. Notice the “Backlog” category under Work and Personal.  This is a way to put everything that’s not active, off your plate.  You can acknowledge that you have a lot of projects at work or personal projects, but if they aren’t active in your life, then they are part of your “backlog.”   Don’t mix them up with what’s really on your plate right now.
  3. The Life Frame is a durable set of categories that is relatively stable over time: Mind, Body, Emotions, Career, Financial, Relationships, and Fun.  If you invest in these areas, they support each other.  If you don’t invest in these areas, they work against you.  For example, try being your best when you let your body go, or try doing well at work, if you don’t build your relationships, or try having fun if you let your emotions run your life.
3 Steps to Map Out Your Hot Spots
For the purpose of this exercise, just think of your Hot Spots as simple lists.  We’ll create three simple lists to answer the question, “What’s on your radar?”.  Here are the steps to follow:
  • Step 1. Map out your Work Hot Spots.  Write down a list of your key roles, your activities, and your projects.  Keep it at the macro level.  This isn’t a dump of all your tasks.  It’s the buckets, not all the items inside the buckets.  For example, for work, I would list my main projects: “Common Catalog,” “Simple IA,” “Azure Security Notes,” “Customer Connected Engineering,”, etc.  I turn themes of work into projects, and I give them a name.  Making them projects gives them a start and finish, and helps me identify outcomes for the project, and measure the impact.
  • Step 2. Map out your Personal Hot Spots.  Write down a list of your key roles, your activities, and your projects at home.  For example, for persona, I would list some of my main projects: “Getting Results,” “RV,” “Backyard,” .etc.  Don’t worry about getting the order right – just dump what’s on your mind.
  • Step 3. Map out your Life Hot Spots.  Write down the key areas or “big rocks” in your life that are important.  Make this a quick exercise and simply list out your top list of areas that are important in your life.  For example, I tend to list: mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, and fun (I refer to this list as my Life Frame, because it acts like a lens to helps me frame out or look at the big areas in my life in a simple way.  Feel free to use my list as a starting point.  It’s easy to swap things out or add, such as adding a “Spirit” category or a “Community” bucket.  I lump “Community” under my relationships bucket, but what’s important is that the categories make sense for you.
Congratulations – you just created more clarity in your life than many businesses or people do in a life time!
3 Keys to Great Hot Spot Maps
  1. Don’t try to put your lists in any clever order.  It actually breaks it.  What’s important is that each list actually resonates with you when you look at it.  The order things are listed should simply be the order you would rattle them off the top of your mind.  Don’t try to alphabetize them or put them in any logical order.  They should simply reflect your mind.  I can’t emphasize that enough.
  2. Stick the things you aren’t really spending any time or energy on under your backlog.  You might find that you have really long lists.  That’s OK.  It’s a process.  What’s important is now you have a map of what’s going on in your life, from three views — work, personal, and life.   If things on your list, really aren’t active, then move them down your list under a heading you call “Backlog.”
Using Your Hot Spots to Invest Your Time and Energy
You can now look easily scan across what’s on your radar and instead of trying to remember what you were trying to do, you can step back and say, what’s worth doing or where do I need to spend more time or energy?  In other words, now with your life portfolio in your hands, you can choose where to invest and where to de-invest at a glance.
By asking yourself some very simple questions, you can test your investments.  For example, are you spending enough time or energy in relationships?  Are you giving your body enough rest and relaxation?  Are you challenging your body enough?  Are you making time for fun or for play?, etc.
The key to investing wisely, is simply to answer the question, “Why?” … and then cross-checking by asking the question, “What do you want to accomplish?”  Your mind can find the answers when you ask the right questions.  If your mind can’t find the right answers, then pair up or find somebody you trust how can.
Today’s Assignment
  1. Review your Hot Spot maps for work, personal, and life and improve them until you feel they truly represent what’s going on in your life.  They should be simple and scannable.  They are not your outcomes, they are not your tasks, they are simply a list of the activities or projects or big rocks in your life.
  2. Explore some of the examples of Hot Spots in Chapter 4 – Hot Spots, from Getting Results the Agile Way.
  3. Pick one area that you could invest less in to invest more in another area.  Identify why you would want to make this shift.  This is your chance to deliberately improve an area of your life through a conscious investment and managing your life portfolio in a smart way by taking a look from the balcony.