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Back in 2009, I was coming off trying to implement a Hipster PDA with the DIY Planner. I had also recently bounced back to a Franklin Covey system, trying once again to find balance. While I was struggling to develop a new system I reflected on what works for me. I know that I accomplish more of my goals when I use a productivity system, I just needed to find one that works for me. I listed out the strengths of Top-Down, and Bottom-Up for me.

Strengths of Top-Down Methods

  • Future Looking
  • Focus on Becoming someone better

Weaknesses of Top-Down Methods

  • Rigid, if the tool gets misplaced it is gone
  • The weekly review and daily planning were not as elegant as in Bottom-Up methods.

Strengths of Bottom-Up Methods

  • Elegant handling of daily tasks
  • Flexible systems

Weaknesses of Bottom-Up Methods

  • No real big picture time
  • Can get really complicated with task classifications

One of the problems I have faced with productivity systems is losing or breaking the tool. Each time that happened I would struggle with what kind of system, and what kind of methodology I would use next. As I was trying to decide what system to use next, I decided to create my own. I lined up the pieces of other systems I have used in the past, with some other ideas that I had, and the Middle Way Method was created.

Why the Middle Way Method

Top-Down systems, like the Franklin-Covey system, gave me the ability to look at the future, and to determine who I was, and who I wanted to become. They gave me tools to discover, and adhere to values in my life.

Bottom-Up systems, like Getting Things Done (GTD), gave me tools to efficiently outline the tasks I needed to accomplish during the day, or week. These types of systems are really good at helping me accomplish the tasks which are in front of me, but they do not help distinguish between the tasks worth doing, and those which are not.

The Middle Way Method was created after I had tried and failed, with Top-Down and Bottom-Up planning systems. I found that each type of system had its strengths and weaknesses. I was able to take what I felt to be the best parts of each, mix in some parts original to the system, and then when I was looking for a name, was inspired by the story of how the Buddha reached enlightenment.

A Middle Way system would help a person to look to the future, and determine who they want to become. It would also have the tools to help a person accomplish the everyday tasks which threaten to overwhelm us. A middle way system would reflect its origin as a combination of the two methodologies, and would be flexible in the implementation of the system.

The Processes of the Middle Way Method

Creating & Maintaining Mission and Vision Statements Setting Goals Keeping a Journal Capturing Information The Weekly Review The Daily Review Creating a System

The Middle Way Method

Both Top-Down, and Bottom-Up planning methods are great. They have a specific focus, which helps many people accomplish their goals. Some people find balance by using a Bottom-Up planner at work, and a Top-Down planner at home, or they find some other balance. The Middle Way Method helps me to accomplish the tasks I need to on a daily basis, while keeping the big picture in front of me as well.

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Jordan McGilvray


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The Middle Way Method

Where Top-Down and Bottom-up Meet in the Middle

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