Any organizational system only works if… you actually use it. If you write down your priorities and never look at them again, that doesn’t help you much. If you make a list with all the tasks for a project and never go back to check your progress, that list is useless. Therefore, you need a good review system in place. How to do that?
The daily review
At the beginning of the day, I check my calendar and my Trello for the day. I also check Wunderlist. When I’m working on a task, I drag it to the “Doing Now” list on Trello. When I’m finished with the task, I move it to “Done Today.” At the end of the day, I look through the tasks in “Done Today,” and I mark those as done on my project management board. (See previous blog post for more details.) I also briefly think about what went well today, what didn’t go so well today, and what I learned today.
The weekly review
The weekly review is probably the most important to me. It has two parts: what I call the “Weekly Preview” (at the beginning of the week) and the “Weekly Review” (at the end of the week). In my weekly preview, I look at my calendar to see what I have scheduled for the upcoming week. I check what work deadlines I have. I also look at my project board to look what the next steps are on my projects. Then, I decide how I will distribute my time this week and what tasks I will work on each day. This saves lots of time during the week when I could be left wondering, “Okay, what do I do next?”
I also go through my goals and my priorities. I think about how what I’m going to do this week fits with my goals and priorities. If there is a discrepancy between what I want and what I am going to do, I can change things around and make sure that my daily activities reflect my priorities and are bringing me closer to achieving my goals.
At the end of the week, I do the weekly review: I look at what I’ve done this week by checking Trello and my calendar. I think about what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what I’ve learned. I assess whether the week has gone according to my priorities and if not, what I’d like to change in the future. Did I work too much? Did I get enough sleep? Did I talk to my family? Did I exercise?
I do a money review as well where I look at how much I’ve spent on what and how that fits into my budgets.
I also briefly go over what I will do over the weekend and next week.
The monthly review
Once a month, I do the monthly review in which I look at what I’ve done over the past month and what I’ll do during the next month (and possibly the next few months). I create a new Google Doc for each month where I write my main goals for the month, the main things I’d like to work on, and the things I’d like to spend time on. I also write down any fun trips or cool things I’m looking forward to.
To explain how this works, if today is March 1, I will review how February went. I will have written a list for February on February 1, and I will go through the items and briefly remark on how they went. Usually, this looks like, “yeah!!!,” yes, did that,” “yep,” “kind of,” “a little bit,” “not really,” “nope,” or “haha, right” for each item I had for the month. Then I will make a Google Doc with a list of items for March. On April 1, I will review the list for March, etc. I also make sure to implement those items on the monthly list in my project management tools, lists, and calendar. Then I know they will get done.
I reflect on how this month went. Did it fit my priorities? What went well, what didn’t go so well, and what have I learned? (You’re probably beginning to see a trend here.) Did I have a good balance going through the month? Did I make progress with my work? Did I get enough rest? Did I maintain a healthy sense of perspective? Did I have fun?
I also think about what habits I tried and succeeded or failed to establish. Did I respect my bedtime? Did I exercise regularly? Did I meditate regularly?
I check my spending for the month and see how that fits in my budgets and how it compares to other months.
During my monthly review, I also revisit my yearly goals.
The yearly review
Finally, we have the yearly review which (spoiler!) I do once a year, so it’s super exciting!!! People get excited about New Year’s Eve and parties and stuff, but I don’t care about that because how could you if you had The Yearly Review coming on January 1?!?!?! That’s so much more exciting!!!
At my yearly review, I look over my calendar and ask, “What big things did I do this year? What things happened to me?” I also think about what important habits I established and stuck with and what habits I struggled with.
I also do a yearly money review where I look at my spending over the year, how that fits with my budgets, and how it compares to other years.
Then, I go to the integral part: What went well this year? What didn’t go so well this year? What have I learned? What would I like to change and what would I like to keep the same and how? I actually write this out because that really forces me to think and dig deep.
Finally, I make a list of my goals for next year.
Then I usually stare at my calendar some more because I don’t want the yearly review to be over. It’s so much fun, so why does it only happen once a year? 😦 (Hint: Because it’s yearly by definition…)