When I talk about my Review System to others, people often ask, “Doesn’t it all take too long?”
In fact, it doesn’t. Setting up a new system for the first time may be an investment of time, but maintaining it is quick.
This morning, I did my Monthly Review for May. I timed myself, and it took me 12 minutes. Literally! I almost felt disappointed there was nothing more to do. I love the Monthly Review, and when the time comes for it (once a month, duh!), I want to savor it and enjoy it. But after 12 minutes, it was done.
What is the Monthly Review?
Ah, I’m so glad you asked. The Monthly Review is a periodic review of the past month and a preview of the upcoming month. I like to do this towards the end of each month. Here, I’ll be describing the Monthly Review for the end of May 2021.
First, I looked at my calendar. I scrolled through the weeks of May and reminded myself of what I’d done. This may seem basic, but it always turns out I’ve done more than I thought. For instance, I completely forgot that I’d given a presentation in group meeting about my new project. This gave me a good feeling and helped me remember the stuff I’ve gotten done instead of only focusing on the stuff that still need to get done, thus reducing the hamster-in-a-wheel feeling.
Then, I opened up the Google Doc called ‘Priorities May’ and assessed how I’ve done on each item. It contains several sections:
- Self-care (e.g., go for a walk 4x week, strength train 3x week, respect my bedtime 5x week)
- Child & home (e.g., play with William every day, tidy up / clear clutter)
- Research work (e.g., collect data, preprocess data)
- Household work (e.g., buy groceries, do budgets)
- Social & fun (e.g., do a family activity 1x week, go for a hike with friends 1x week)
- Mindset (e.g., treat life like a gift instead of a burden)
I made a little note next to each entry to say whether I’d done well on that one or not. The notes can be things like: “yes!,” “yep,” “kind of,” “not so much,” or “yeah, right.” If something isn’t going well but I do find it important, I make a change for the following month.
Then, I moved on to the next month. I copied the entries from the May Google Doc into a new June Google Doc and adapted them wherever necessary.
After that, I went to my calendar and looked over what I have planned for June. I made adjustments where necessary, adding a walk or a hike here and there.
Finally, I revisited my Yearly Goals, a Google Doc with my goals for the year. It’s less than a page long, so it’s quite quick to read through, and it serves as a reminder for the things I’d like to be working towards this year. Ideally, they would be incorporated in the Monthly Priorities Doc, which in this case they were – yay!
And that was it! I looked for something else to do for my Monthly Review, but alas, there was nothing else… 12 minutes and no more!
Let me know if you do a Monthly Review! How did it go?