[Video series]

light My Insights: I am continuously sharpening my way of working and having a system that enables me to focus on executing the important and relevant things. Over time I noticed that the trick is not about “planning things”, but about “making sure I continuously recalibrate on the important things to work on”. I do this by reviewing my north star yearly, my Goals (and OKRs) quarterly, and then monthly and weekly to ensure I am working on projects that help me achieve those. I recently learned that Cal Newport calls this the “Strategic Plan”. This framing facilitates the “emergence” of clear and relevant things to work on my day-to-day without the “stress” of having to make the plan and deliver the plan (which is continuously changing). This is greatly supported by the PPV method, as it provides systems that capture our ambitions and goals and promotes routines and habits to ensure we are progressing towards them by ensuring the “execution plan” always supports those ambitions and goals.

Analysis & Summary

August Bradley has developed a very interesting and robust personal productivity methodology (or “Life Operating System”) called “Pillars, Pipelines and Vaults” or PPV in short. This methodology is carefully crafted and grounded in creating systems that support us in “aligning on what is important” to grow into the areas we want to grow. With that clarity on “where we want to go”, we can more easily focus on execution.

This is a short overview of PPV:

  • “Pillars” are the elements that sustain and define our life, the areas that are important for us to work towards our “north star”. We represent those to make it explicit and to connect and drive all other parts of the system to develop our Pillars. If we are working on something that is not contributing to a Pillar, most likely, it is not relevant for us (or we need to make a new Pillar explicit).
  • “Pipelines” define the systems that connect all the necessary elements to develop our Pillars. They consist of higher level “Value Goals”, which represent aspirational things we want to build on our Pillars (think: make my blog a reference on modern software architecture approaches). We define these yearly and review them quarterly. They help sharpen the “direction” for our developments. To make them more actionable, we define “Goal Outcomes, “ which are similar to OKRs). Here we describe clear and measurable outcomes (think: Write two articles per month on my blog). “Goal Outcomes” are reviewed regularly, in general, quarterly & monthly, to make sure we are progressing and still working on the most important things. To accomplish the “Goal Outcomes”, we create “Projects” (think: write an article about agile architecture). These define the iterations we will make to move things forward and achieve the desired outcomes. Projects are reviewed Weekly to ensure we advance and work on the right things. Within Projects, we have “Actions” (or Tasks), which are concrete steps we will work on daily to execute and reach our ambitions. On a day-to-day basis, we focus on getting tasks done (which should emerge on our to-do list due to our regular reviews and prioritization).
  • “Vaults” are places where we collect information and consolidate knowledge, which will support us in executing our ambitions.

I have tried many different methodologies and, in time, developed my own, and to be fair, I think PPV formalizes many of the elements I came to develop in time, plus it adds quite a sound structure to it with a clear philosophy: “Focus & Alignment” (i.e., create clarity where to go, review it often to make sure you are in the right path, as this will enable you to focus on execution on your “day to day”).

August presents PPV through an excellent and thorough video series (and also a training) so people can more easily implement this approach. Implementing this will take effort, but the outcome really pays off (if you want to shape and customize your personal productivity system to your needs). To implement PPV, August uses a flexible tool called Notion. This application merges several features: note-taking and wiki but also enables the creation of flexible databases, which can be visualized in different ways. This flexibility is vital to implementing PPV and variations of it (which is what most people will most likely do to adapt it to support their specific preferences and way of working). Most productivity tools tend to prescribe a way of working that does not capture all the dimensions of PPV (or customized elements we want to have), namely enabling the creation of a system of systems that operate and connect to address the different needs we have to organize our lives. August states that PPV is a way to implement a “Life Operating System (OS)”, and after adapting most of it to my setup, I fully agree with him.