Last month I wrote about how I was struggling to find and maintain a healthy balance when it came to diet and fitness. I didn’t want to be too serious about what I ate and how much exercise I did, but neither did I want to be casual about it.
Well, since then I’ve shaken things up a bit. And it all started with my discovery of OKRs.
OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. To quote Wikipedia, its main goal is to define company and team “objectives” along with the measurable “key results” that define achievement of each objective.
I won’t go into a detailed explanation of it here. Suffice to say, I’m a sucker for stuff like this, especially when applied to my personal life. Nine times out of ten it’s overkill, though. In a business setting, sure, but the rest of the time? I’ve found it complicates, rather than motivates.
However, OKRs might be the exception.
Let me explain how I’m using them. At the moment I have three categories (the objectives); diet, physical and mental. Within each of those I have up to three key results. So, for instance, under the physical category, I have something like do thirty minutes of exercise. A diet result might involve eating my five-a-day of fruit.
If I eat my five portions that would give me an OKR score of 1.0 for the day. Four portions would be a 0.8 score. For each objective (diet, physical and mental) I then calculate an average score for each month.
What actually makes this special for me? Well, it’s not an all or nothing system. I originally experimented with the Seinfeld method where each successful day is a link in a chain, and the motivation comes from not wanting to break that chain. But what happens if, say, I only have four portions of fruit?
With OKRs (or at least how I choose to implement them), five portions might be the goal, but four portions is a good effort and would still be reflected in my overall score. In nearly every other system I’ve tried it would have been classed as a failure, a break in the chain.
The other benefit is the score also acts as feedback on my performance. If I’m always getting near to a 1.0 that probably means my objectives are too easy. If the score is low it could mean it’s too demanding. I’ve experimented with a few exercise routines that simply weren’t measuring up for various reasons (they took too much time, required too much prep, etc.). The OKR score reflected this and allowed me to make adjustments.
At the moment I’m keeping this limited to health and fitness goals, but there is no reason why it can’t be extended to all sorts of other personal goals like my writing, if I needed to. What about you guys? Have you had any experience with OKRs?