While there are only three necessary processes for being productive, there are other processes which are still necessary if you want to operate at the highest level. Next to the three essentials, the next most important is the review.
There are a couple of different types of reviews which can be performed as part of a productivity system. Each type centers around the time frame they are performed in, but they also have different purposes and involve different activities. The major reviews are the daily, weekly, quarterly and yearly reviews. There are other time frames which can be used, and some may be more preferable to others, but these three are the most common.
Will look at each review in turn and examine what is involved in the review and why you would want to incorporate into your system.
The Daily Review
A daily review has two main goals:
- Review the past days activities
- Plan the activities for the following day
Some people may even break this up into two different meetings, but I have found that the best use of time and energy is to hold just one meeting. This allows me to see where I would like to improve and make plans for it while planning the activities for the following day.
The daily review can be held at either the beginning or the end of the day, however the end of the day is better because the events of the day are fresh in your mind and the review is easier. Also, sleeping on the plans you have for the next day can help you assimilate it and allow for the unconscious mind to work on it throughout the night.
I’ll even perform the activities in the order listed above: review the current day, then plan for tomorrow. I can then roll over anything that may be important to tomorrow or just drop it if I don’t think it’s worth thinking about anymore.
The Weekly Review
A week is just enough time to make significant progress on goals while still being a time frame you can grasp. Anything longer than a week starts to get fuzzy and more difficult to manage. Goals that are broken down into week long sizes are more likely to succeed than those which are just broken down into months of even quarters. The weekly review helps you get a bit more strategic about what you are going to get done in the current week and, just like the daily review, carry over or abandon anything that didn’t get done in the previous week.
Usually I’ll schedule things for specific days and ‘chunking’ or ‘theming’ a day can help you keep the same focus and energy going for similar tasks. A weekly review can help you make sure you get the right amount of those themes in without leaving any important one out of your week.
Finally, take some time during each weekly review to review your productivity system. Make adjustments and measure to see if those adjustments have helped, hindered or had no impact on your productivity.
The Yearly and Quarterly Reviews
If the daily review is where the tactical planning occurs and the weekly review is where you make your strategy, then the yearly review is the place where the visionary items are conceived and planned. This is where you dream big and make plans for those goals that will stretch and grow you and the causes you are engaged in.
Many people are in the habit of making new years resolutions. I’m not that fond of the practice, but it may not be for the reasons you may suppose. I think the idea of setting goals without having a plan is just a wish, and that is what I think of New Years Resolutions. More often than not, people focus on the end result but do it without a plan, and that is what leads a person to break those resolutions so soon after making them.
Unlike New Years Resolutions, yearly goals have a plan and regular check-ins to make sure they are accomplished. Weekly and daily reviews can incorporate these check-ins to make sure you are making progress toward those yearly goals. These are the quarterly reviews.
Quarterly reviews are there to give you a moment to reflect on the goals for the year, make adjustments and make sure you are making appropriate progress toward those goals. If you are not then they also give you an opportunity to reset expectations, double down on effort or abandon the goal all together. There is no shame or problem in abandoning a goal. A lot can change in three months and holding onto a goal that is no longer realistic does not do any good and is just a waste of energy. Better to know that after three months than after twelve.
Make sure you schedule the quarterly and annual reviews so they are not on the same day as a weekly review. Instead make sure it is one of your themes for one of the days during the week. Then find a place were you can be undisturbed and review, honestly, how you are progressing. Brainstorm the metrics you will be using on a daily and weekly basis to measure your progress with [lead and lag indicators][lead_and_lag] and then create plans and milestones for each week or month that will show you, definitely, how you are doing in your progress toward that yearly goal.
Write the plan down and review it at least each quarter. You should review it more often if you feel you need some of the reinforcement and as you start off in executing the plan that can help ingrain it into your conscious and subconscious.
While reviews are not a necessary part of a productivity system, they can help provide feedback on the system itself and help give you opportunities to make adjustments to the overall plans you may have. In this way you don’t just get things done, but also make a bigger impact in what you do. You won’t feel like a hamster on a treadmill. Instead you feel like you are making a difference and that the tasks you’re doing have more meaning instead of just checking off a box.
The image is ‘Content writing’ by Jesse Radonski. You can find it on flickr