Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 5

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 5, Make Space for Your Project

In this chapter, Charlie discusses the approaches to break our project into smaller and manageable chunks for planning and scheduling. He offers the following views for us to think about:

  • Chunking, linking, and sequencing are the essential skills we can use to create space and build plans that work for our projects. The project pyramid (like the Work Breakdown Structure) shows how bigger projects contain smaller projects. The smaller projects have tasks that help us build momentum.
  • The Five Project Rule alerts us that we should have no more than five active projects per timescale. Managing only a handful of projects simultaneously helps us do a better job of planning and prioritizing.
  • Charlie suggests using four types of project blocks for planning.
    • Focus Block: Focus blocks are 90 to 120 minutes in length. Any task that requires over ten hours becomes hard for us to visualize. Breaking a task into a series of five focus blocks makes it easier to understand the task.
    • Social Block: A social block is a block of time used to interact with others, often supporting our projects. We use focus blocks for creating something, while we use social blocks for connecting with someone.
    • Admin Block: Focus blocks are 30 to 60 minutes in length. If we are getting ahead on our admin blocks but falling behind on our projects, we are either going the wrong way or failing to understand the role of admin blocks in a project.
    • Recovery Block: Focus, social, and admin blocks are energy-expending entities, while the recovery block regenerates and puts the energy back into our pool. Skillful uses of recovery blocks can allow us to find dead zones in our days that can be repurposed for recovery. We should plan on a recovery block for every two focus or social blocks.