Dave Lee’s System

The Dave Lee system was explicitly developed with creatives in mind. The system emphasizes a mixture of prioritization, single-tasking, time-blocking, and outcome planning.

Why does it work?

  1. Helps prioritize your focus areas
  2. Emphasizes focused single-tasking
  3. Helps avoid information overload
  4. Uses time-blocking for effectiveness

How does it work?

The system has a few steps, but the chronology will become second nature with practice. That said, let's look at the steps involved:

  1. Choose five important focus areas.
  2. Assign one focus area for each day of the workweek.
  3. Identify three desired outcomes for each day that are related to each other.
  4. Break down the outcomes into action items and assign them to 25-minute time blocks.
  5. Take a 5-minute break between the 25-minute blocks.
  6. Don't overload projects with too many tasks and notes.
  7. Move non-critical information to storage and out of sight.
  8. Dedicate the day to the focus area and the three desired outcomes.
  9. Dedicate the end of the day to work on less critical tasks like email, reporting, etc.
  10. Clean your desk and desktop once outcomes are achieved.

Dave Lee's Method in action

Jane Doe is a graphic designer and works for a marketing agency in New York. Every month, Jane is assigned many tasks to complete for her company to move forward on projects.

Jane is constantly overwhelmed since she doesn't get breathing space between tasks, limiting her ability to think and be creative with her graphic work.

Jane decides to follow the Dave Lee system that she read about recently. She breaks down her monthly tasks by week, and she does that based on her dependency on her team.

Now that she has a list of 5 projects to pursue, she assigns one project for every workweek day. She assigns days based on the priority of each project.

The next step for Jane is to identify three desirable outcomes for each day. For Monday, the project assigned was "Create Graphics for the NGO," hence she wrote down three desirable outcomes that, when achieved, will mean that Monday was successful.

These three outcomes were:

  1. Get the client to sign off on the fonts and color scheme.
  2. Get the quotes on the images validated by the content team.
  3. Get the account manager to review and share the design with the NGO.

Once she had the outcomes, she broke them down into tasks that she could do in a single or multiple 25-minute time-block, depending on the size of the task.

Choosing fonts and color schemes seemed like she could do in a 25-minute block. Hence, Jane started working on it, and by the end of the 25-minute block, she was done, so she submitted it to the client for approval.

She then took a quick 5-minute break before moving on to the actions required for the second desired outcome - Get the quotes on the images validated by the content team.

The system continued until she had successfully achieved all three outcomes for the day, making her Monday a Success.

Once she was done with the outcomes, she cleaned up her desktop and the desk to start on a clean slate tomorrow.

References

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