The Decision-Making Rainbow


Working outside of organisational structures and support is a blessing or curse to some. I found most of my E--P friends struggle to focus their ambitions as freelancers or entrepreneurs looking for their next project. Others I know flourish when given their own blank canvas to build. I fluctuate between the two; while finding creative freedom and enormous control working for myself, I am also more exposed to the elements which businesses shield their workers from: business planning, forecasting, their development, training schemes etc. However, experimenting with structure and putting productivity tools to work for you helps strike the balance required to move forwards.

Some folks have asked about how I keep track of my projects, and what I use to do this:

One product from last December's deep dive is a Trello board I call 2017. This gives me a helicopter view on all the latest developments and pipe dreams as far as projects go. Projects include everything from live sponsor-led workshops, to speculative discussions, a Cereal party, and collaboration with friends I want to try out (that some don't yet know about). 

Under the Board

Part of what makes this board fairly intuitive for my development come from the things I prioritised for 2017. If I had the privilege to spend time with you, you may have heard me mention a Tinder-like dial which emerged from a question I was handed by my mentor last year which was: "Who do I want to work with, and who do I not want to work with." 

Addressing this question give me a great foresight into the year. While I don't believe that any time we spend is a waste of time - some situations just require harder work to extract learnings from - it is a huge help to understand how events and decisions fit into the 'flow' of your life, referring to Csikszentmihalyi's body of research. In the short- to medium-term, 'flow' is bound to the meaning you give any part of your life; in this instance, the meaning of work is a Jiro-like quest for understanding and practicing facilitation. Often times 'facilitation' feels like a poor way to describe all which I see it encompass, but it will do for now. I digress.

The dial looks a little like this. 

Down the middle runs a series of questions which opportunities pass through, some which includes:

  • Am I paid for the work I do
  • Does this contribute to my craft
  • Does this give me joy
  • Will I want to share this with my friends and family

Based on these, and guided by my gut, projects will find itself on either side of the dial from 'Hell Yeah!' to 'Hell No." 

On the Board

The dial served as a good starting point for the Trello Board of projects. Over time, the board evolved to include the current labels:

  • Topic (green) are projects that push me deeper in a specific subject/field
  • Craft (yellow) these are practice grounds for facilitation
  • Personal Development (red) are activities which serve my development like courses or creating feedback loops
  • Wellbeing (pink) are projects which serve my physical, social, emotional, spiritual, creative state. Sometimes it means creating breathing room, other times it's making things for friends.
  • Business (black) keeps my journey sustainable, and helps me find ways to do the same for others.

All these fuel my learning journey, and bring others along the ride. 

There are times I find myself feeling out of kilter and unable to articulate how I have come to feel that way. Over the past 6 months of using this system, I realise that feeling connected requires balance. What's great about this traffic light system is how at a glance I can see how the colours shift over time: what I'm doing more of, what's missing, and what requires priority in the coming months. 

Looking back at the last few months, the lighting up of green and yellow became some what like the patterns of being at my old job. When most of these colours filled up Today and Q2, I realised that I was producing more than nourishing myself. I pulled out of the pipeline a few Personal Development ideas I had been putting off for a long while. While it balanced my Q2, it also left me utterly floored, daylighting in courses and moonlighting my projects over the weekends. Business related work also featured in Q2 as I set up my company, found an accountant, and have been taking up time to figure out banking as a business, insurance, and investments.

Harried and starved for introspection and creative input, I intervened with a Wellbeing project, getting away this month to read, extract learnings from projects which time did not permit, and write to organise my thoughts and share what I have been asked about. It's about time for a half-year review, too.

All this to say, this system keeps me aware of what's going on, prioritises, and alerts me to my needs. There's more we can learn from the other, and it's been a comprehensive collection of data points for accounting purposes, development and anticipating what shape I might be in a few months/years.

So there you have it, one rainbow dial to rule them all.