I’m a firm believer that we should manage ourselves like products.
The best products are the output of effective goal setting, project management, and skill development. So should our lives.
Over the past three years, I’ve been experimenting and iterating my personal “operating system” in Notion. It has finally reached a point where I’m satisfied enough to share.
Here’s what it looks like (available as a template).
If you want to know about my philosophy behind this dashboard, feel free to read on.
The system follows two principles I learned through trial and error:
Keep it simple
It might come as a surprise, but the version you are seeing is 10X simpler than it was.
In the past, I tried to over-engineer everything, only to realize I would spend more time updating the dashboard than executing against my goals.
By keeping things simple, I’m able to operate with more flexibility and focus.
10 small steps > 1 big step
It’s good to be ambitious, but you should know that significant progress is the result of small, frequent steps. Even if I just push myself to be 1% better each day, the compound effect will be massive in the long run.
My goal is to condition my brain to celebrate these small wins, so I will be motivated to make progress on a consistent basis.
How it works
My personal dashboard has three sections:
This is a directory of resources I need quick access to — blogs, communities, tools, etc.
I also store all of my reading notes under Learnings.
- To me, the main point of note-taking is learning enforcement. The organization aspect isn’t critical as I rarely go back to them.
- If I come across an article that I don’t have time to read right away, I would save it here for later using Notion Web Clipper. This trick has helped me read so much more.
Although most companies do it wrong, OKR (Objectives & Key Results) can still be an effective goal-setting framework.
Objective = A high-level area of focus
- Don’t be too vague. E.g. Grow professionally → Improve data analytics skills
- Have no more than 3 objectives to keep focused.
Key Result = A measurable goal for an objective
- Can either be an output (do X) or outcome (achieve X). I recommend having both.
- Have no more than 3 key results under an objective.
I review my personal OKRs quarterly because a year is too long to track progress, and a month is too short to get anything meaningful done.
This is a kanban board for tracking personal projects. Projects are grouped by status and sorted by priority.
Since these are all my projects, I simply prioritize them based on relative preference. Frameworks like ICE will just be overkill.
My favorite concept here is Weekly Sprint (yes, like sprints in Scrum). It’s a great way to achieve bite-size goals each week.
- Planning: List what I want to accomplish this week. The tasks are mainly habits I want to maintain, such as learning, meditation, exercise, hanging out with friends, etc.
- Retro: Review what I’ve done, how I felt, and write down additional thoughts.
Weekly sprints act as regular check-ins for my progress. They are frequent enough that I establish a routine, but not too frequent that they become hectic.
In case you don’t want to scroll up, here is the Notion template for my personal dashboard again.
Do keep in mind that this is just a tool to help you manage personal goals, projects, and learnings more effectively. Without a strong growth mindset as the foundation, it won’t help much.
Also, what works for me might not work for you. Treat this as a blueprint and apply your own ideas. After all, you know yourself the best.
Got questions? My twitter DM is open.