Making It All Work – getting perspective: Gracie’s Gardens revisited

This is the eighteenth entry in a twenty part series discussing the wonderful time and priority management book Making It All Work by David Allen. New entries in this series will appear on Tuesday mornings and Friday mornings.

Penguin Group (USA)
'Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life,' David Allen, Penguin Group (USA), December 2008, 256pp.

In an earlier section of the book, Allen tells the tale of a guy named Ron and his experiences dealing with an inherited business called Gracie’s Gardens. In that earlier chapter, Allen walks through how Ron applies the basic GTD workflow to the business.

Here, in contrast, Allen looks at how Ron applies the different levels of perspective to the business, going from purpose and vision all the way down to next actions.

While I could easily quote from this story, I thought instead I’d give you an example of connecting purpose and principles down to next actions in my own life.

Purpose and Principles
As I’ve mentioned last time, one major purpose I see in my own life is creating thoughtful entertainment for others. The Simple Dollar clearly falls into that category – I try every single day to make The Simple Dollar into thoughtful entertainment for you, something that will interest you and also perhaps help you grow in some way. Of course, I’m interested in exploring other areas within this realm, too.

One dream I have along these lines is to publish a tabletop game I developed in college. It’s set in a future where the United States has fallen into a civil war among various regions. You’re essentially in control of one of the regions and you take on one of the other regions in battle. The game is entirely card-driven and can be played in about thirty minutes.

I’ve been working on it in some fashion for about eight years. About five years ago, I really got into it for a while and made up a mock version of the game, playing it a bit with several friends who were really enthusiastic about it, but I didn’t really know what to do with it at that point.

My goal is to take that game idea of mine and finish it, taking it to the point that it could actually be published. It’s not worth taking it to a publisher unless it’s in a fairly complete state, at which point they help you finish it off and handle the production of the game. It’s not too much different than handing a completed manuscript of a book to a book publisher.

Getting the game to that state means making sure the rules are clear, playing it with a lot of people to ensure that it plays well and is easy to teach, and so on – in other words, a big bundle of projects that need to, in some ways, be done in a particular order.

First among them is making up a revised playable version of the game, along with writing up clear rules for the game. Once those are prepared, I can start testing the game with friends, revising and remaking the game over time. Eventually, I need to find a remote group of people I trust to see whether the game is learnable on its own.

Next Actions
So, what’s next? The first task is a rough draft of the rules. The next task is to walk through the game components, a small batch at a time, and make sure they make sense within the rules and are reasonably fun to play.

What this all means is that there’s a clear thread connecting the mundane things I do day-to-day and the large purposes and principles I have in life. Establishing those ties (usually during my weekly reviews) helps me to figure out whether the things I’m doing have a deep connection to the big things in my life – or whether there’s a disconnect and things need to change.

I don’t expect that my purpose and principles match yours or that my goals and projects for expressing those purposes and principles would be what you would do. At the same time, though, I do believe that you should always be figuring out what your purpose and principles are and figuring out how to connect the things you do each day, from your job choices to your money choices, to those big things in life. It’ll fill every moment of your life with a much deeper sense of purpose.

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