Most of us are aware of the need to plan ahead. We set personal goals on New Year’s Day (remember that?)
In business we set objectives (KPIs, OKRs or whatever) for the year, quarter or month. At work we create charts for projects, showing what’s got to be done by whom and by when. We enjoy planning holidays. We might even plan the meals we’re having this coming week. Some of these plans work more effectively than others. The best ones see the plans carried out and goals achieved. And yet we can all think of plans that have gone off course or were abandoned due to drastic change, competing demands, or simply lack of interest and/or commitment.
Something I’ve learned that keeps plans moving in the right direction is to review them on a regular basis.
Reviewing plans at work is usually hard-wired into how the more efficient organisations get stuff done. They monitor progress, discuss what might be holding things up, identify what’s helping and what’s hindering. The most productive project teams will have an end of project wrap-up and review, pulling out lessons learned to apply in future.
Beyond work, how many of us review our personal progress? I’ve found a personal weekly review can be a motivating and insightful habit to develop. Doing a weekly review will help you to:
- Get a sense of accomplishment
- Gain clarity about where your time really goes – both in hindsight, and in the moment
- Identify activities you want to spend more/less time on
- Keep on track – day to day – and build momentum towards achieving goals
- Spot tasks that still need to be completed
- Reflect on the activities that energize – or drain – you
Use some or all of these questions to guide your reflection as you review the past week:
- What is my biggest achievement over the past week?
- Which of my goals have I progressed towards – and how?
- How much time did I devote to my personal goals? (if ‘none/not much’ – what was I doing instead?)
- What word sums up this past week? (try one or two words – or you can have fun coming up with a movie-style title or news headline)
- What obstacles have I overcome?
- What have I struggled with? How can I get the skills or help I need to end the struggle and move forward?
- Who have I spent the most time with? (are they the people I want to spend the most time with?)
- When and where have I been at my best this week?
- What have I enjoyed the most?
- What lessons – new or old – have l learned this past week?
- Who has helped me? When did I thank them?
- Who have I helped – and what impact has that had?
- What has surprised me?
- What next steps will I take next week to keep progressing towards my goals?
- What do I want more/less of in the coming week?
- What am I grateful for?
Tips for your weekly review
- Set the time in your calendar. How long is enough? It varies. Some swear by an hour, others by 20-30 minutes. Even 10 minutes’ reflection is better than doing nothing at all. Which day? Friday’s good if it’s work-focused, or the weekend if you’re taking a personal look.
- Use your calendar tools to set up a recurring time slot when you hold your weekly review. You may not be able to make the exact same time each week, but if it’s in your calendar at least you’ll have a commitment or ‘meeting’ (with yourself) that you can move to a time you’ll be able to do.
- Experiment with tools and techniques. Some like to create MindMaps – others a checklist on a spreadsheet. Many of my current and former coaching clients like a Q&A format where they answer the same questions each week.
- Share if you want. I find weekly reviews are very personal and tastes vary; some people like to find a buddy or accountability partner with whom to discuss their reviews. Others prefer to take quiet time alone.
- Keep your notes. These are great to refer back to over time; you’ll begin to notice recurrent themes, some positive and some you will want to address and change.
For thoughts on weekly, monthly and annual reviews see Belle B. Cooper’s post.
You may find this blog post useful: ‘Why write? Benefits of keeping a journal’
Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’, available now at bookstores and on Amazon.
Image ‘Woman lost in thoughts in office’ by everett225 / Deposit Photos