The Land of Unlanded Arches: Why it is Important to Get Things Done?

Aleksandr Perevalov
6 min readFeb 16, 2024

Everything has its start and finish, just like a good story. Think about when you kick off a new project, get into learning a new dance move, or even start to figure out how to play a tune on the piano using both hands. In each of these moments, we’re Setting something with an Intention and Desired Outcome, whether we’re fully aware of it or not. It’s like answering a Call To Adventure, whether we made that call ourselves or someone else did. It’s the part where we’re opening up to new experiences and, often, learning cool stuff we didn’t know before!

The Land of Unlanded Arches (Image generated by DALL·E-2)

These days, everyone’s juggling a lot of balls. You might be tackling a bunch of projects at work, diving into various hobbies in your free time, and that’s pretty much the norm. Thanks to the internet and the explosion of social media apps, we’ve gotten used to getting our info fix from tons of places, often all at once. This deluge of data coming at us is what some folks call ‘information overload.’

Multitasking has become a way of life for so many of us, and part of that rush comes from the fear of missing out, or FOMO. How many times have you kicked yourself for not dropping a hundred bucks on Tesla or Bitcoin a few years back? Or how often have you thought about picking up a new skill to nail that next promotion? Our fast-paced world is like an all-you-can-eat buffet of opportunities, tempting us to pile our plates high with everything on offer. But when we do that, sometimes we don’t manage to Land opportunities successfully. Worst case scenario? We end up not properly Landing anything at all.

What is “Landing”?

So, let’s break down what we really mean when we talk about Landing something, like seizing an opportunity. Picture yourself on a software project, where every couple of weeks you commit to a set of tasks that you’re confident you can complete in that time frame. You’re used to handling three tasks within this period. But then one day, to make a good impression, you ambitiously take on five tasks for the next sprint. You’d think you might still wrap up three and just leave two by the wayside, right? Wrong. What often happens is a total derailment where nothing gets fully completed. In this sense, Landing a task is all about reaching a specific goal or milestone, assessing your previous achievements or missteps, and feeding forward those insights to better manage and execute upcoming work.

That’s exactly why the concept of Landing matters so much. It’s a chance for us to get in sync, take stock of the present, look back at what’s happened, figure out what comes next, and use that knowledge to keep moving forward. Right now, we’ve got tons of unfinished, unLanded business just floating around. And the end result? Stuff just doesn’t get finished, and this isn’t limited to our work life — it spills over into our personal lives too. So, let’s dig into the topic of how to land things the right way.

Learning Arches

To visually convey my message, I’m going to employ what are termed “Learning Arches” (LAs). These represent a model or framework designed to depict an activity in the shape of an arch. This arch needs to be Set, Held, and ultimately Landed. Take a look at the illustration below for a clearer grasp of the LAs concept.

Learning Arches illustration (Simon Kavanagh — LEARNING ARCH DESIGN)

Additionally, there are two distinct methods for Landing the arches: standard and looped. Standard landing involves just-in-time reflections, much like jotting down daily thoughts in a journal after attending an advanced guitar class, or casually inquiring about your project team’s current state of mind (what’s alive in the room?). Meanwhile, looped landing builds upon the standard process with an added layer of evaluation and feeding forward. For instance, you might debrief with your project team on what worked and what didn’t in the last two weeks and strategically direct the upcoming two weeks so that the team improves, leveraging their past experiences and outcomes for synergy and cumulative growth. The figure below illustrates both types of landing.

The two types of landing LAs (Simon Kavanagh — LEARNING ARCH DESIGN)

Having been acquainted with the concept of LAs and the varying types of Landing them, let’s examine the worst and best case scenarios that can manifest in our lives. In the most unfavorable scenario, we are left with numerous sub-level arches that remain unLanded; meanwhile, our main arch — representing life itself — is prematurely Landed, signaling the end of life without having accomplished our goals. On the flip side, in the ideal scenario, each arch is impeccably set, held, and Landed in succession. The looped Landing approach is especially advantageous: each arch seamlessly transitions its outcomes to the next, fostering a chain of cumulative, synergistic effects. Refer to the figure below for a visual representation.

“The life of a man” arches. Above is the poor landing example. Below is the proper landing example (image by author)

Drawing from my own experiences, I will present two compelling examples to illustrate the impact of proper Landing on our energy and performance. Utilizing the LAs as a framework, I will show the variations in personal energy levels that occur when we: (a) are burdened with numerous arches that remain unLANDed versus (b) methodically set and Land each arch individually. We’ll reference the arches depicted in the prior figure to exhibit the differences between scenarios (a) and (b).

Energy levels when (a) having many unlanded arches vs (b) landing them constantly (image by author)

In example (a), where there are numerous unLanded arches, we can observe a generally monotonous decrease in energy levels, with a single exception where there’s a slight boost at the point when a small arch is landed. This scenario might occur in real life when you’re juggling multiple projects simultaneously but only manage to complete tasks sporadically. Completing and Landing even a small task can provide an energy boost, as also indicated in example (b). Conversely, in example (b), where arches are LANDed sequentially, there’s a consistent replenishment of energy levels. In fact, by the conclusion, the energy level peaks even higher than where it initially started, due to the successful Landing of all arches!

It’s important to note, however, that this doesn’t necessarily mean we must adhere strictly to a linear or “Waterfall” paradigm or eschew multitasking entirely. The key takeaway here is that systematically Landing tasks tends to keep energy levels heightened and contributes to a sense of achievement and momentum.

Wrap Up

Let’s wrap up the article with some crucial insights you can apply in your daily life:

  • Streamline Your Focus: Clear your mind of clutter by honing in on a select number of significant tasks and ensure they reach completion — Land them!
  • Embrace looped Landing: Draw on your past experiences to enrich your approach; look for ways to create a synergy between what you’ve learned, what you’re doing now, and what you aim to do next.
  • Sequential Progression: Make it a rule to wrap up ongoing endeavors (Land them) before embarking on new ventures (Setting new Arches) in your journey.
  • Consistency in Achievement: Aim to finalize (Land) all the initiatives you begin (the LAs you Set), provided they’re not currently active.

Enjoyed the article? Great! May it serve as a beacon, guiding you toward success in both your personal and professional pursuits!

Acknowledgements

I, as an author, would like to thank KAOSPILOT School and Simon Kavanagh for the best learning experience I ever had!

--

--

Aleksandr Perevalov

PhD Student at Anhalt University of Applied Sciences; Research Assistant at Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (both Germany)