Read Time: 5.3 minutes
Welcome to issue No. 27 of The Lever
Everything you start becomes an open loop, slowly spinning until the task is complete.
Getting things done effectively requires you to take action.
Plan the right actions during your weekly review.
Read on to learn how to crush your most important appointment of the week.
If you struggle to balance your work, life, and personal aspirations, then Peaceful Productivity is for you.
It will help you to:
• Create a high level vision for your life, and craft big goals
• Make space to work on those goals
• Provide strategies to help you get the work done
• Give you tools to better prioritize your tasks
• And offer a powerful system of review and feedback
This book outlines my entire productivity system, and has 5 star reviews on Amazon.
Vilredo Pareto developed his now-famous principle in 1896 after observing that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people.
(He also noticed that 20% of the plants in his garden provided 80% of the fruit.)
This led to his theory of the relationship in the power distribution between two variables, in which a change in one has a dramatic impact on the other. I call this "leverage".
Pareto's law - 80% of the value is derived from 20% of the activities.
When it comes to your productivity practice and goal achievement, that lever is a cadence regular reviews. The weekly review is your longest lever, as it lets you look backwards and plan forwards frequently enough to drive fast results.
Benefits of the weekly review:
• Make data-based decisions.
• Identify opportunities for improvement.
• Decide what you should STOP doing.
• It is objective; the data doesn't lie.
• Keep your goals front of mind.
It is one of the most high-impact activities you can do.
How It's Done
The first step is to schedule your reviews. Choose a time when you have the time. This is a non-negotiable appointment with yourself.
Friday afternoons are good. I prefer Sunday’s. Regardless of when it is, get it in the calendar.
With practice a weekly review will take about 15 to 30 minutes. It is a small time investment that will the next 7 days up for success.
Your goals during this time is to:
1/ Review the past week to assess your progress.
2/ Plan for the new week and list the actions and micro-projects which will advance your goals.
3/ Look ahead to the next week to make sure you are preparing now for things coming due then.
By looking backwards and forwards you'll never miss a deadline. You’ll prioritize and execute your most important tasks.
The Review Steps
1/ Goal Review
The first task is always to review each of your goals, and reaffirm your Why.
Why are these important to you? What are you trying to accomplish? How do these small, consistent, daily actions help you get there?
It is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. A short reminder will make sure this doesn’t happen to you, and reaffirm the importance of what you are doing.
2/ Review The Past Week
Look back over your week. Celebrate your wins. Consider your losses.
Part of this review is to collect all of your data in a single location. I use a custom built spreadsheet that collates all of my Google Calendar entries from the past week. This makes it easy to see the big picture.
When looking backwards, ask yourself these questions:
1. What did I want to happen?
2. What actually happened?
3. Where was I surprised?
4. How can I create more positive surprises, and fewer negative ones?
This is your chance to adjust course. Choose to do less of what isn't working and more of what is.
3/ The 5-Star Review
Data is one thing. How you feel about your week is something else.
The 5-Star Review gives you qualitative data to compare to your quantitative data collected. The two combined give you the most accurate total picture.
For each of your Big-5 categories (personal, work, life, community, fitness), rate them on a scale of 1-5. Zero if you didn't do anything. Then write a short review for each, stating why you chose what you did.
This review reflects the effort you put in, separate from the results.
Life happens and sometimes your priorities will be chosen for you. Maybe your Mom broke her leg, so you had to help her get around all week. You weren’t able then to get your long run in, but you STILL made time for a short one. That’s a 5-star effort, even if you didn’t hit your goal mileage for the week.
4/ Schedule Your Week
Look at your calendar again.
I have a weekly template saved in my calendar. It represents my perfect week, and has time built in to work on each of my Big-5 goals. I drop that into the week, then quickly update it for what is actually coming up.
Add any appointments or one-off events into your calendar. Get a clear picture of what your week is looking like, including any possible roadblocks or commitments that may require you to sacrifice something else.
Be sure to consider deadlines that are coming due the week after as well, so you can plan some time to work on them.
Showing up prepared means doing the work early.
5/ Choose Your Tasks
Now comes the fun part - deciding what to do!
If you follow the Peaceful Productivity System you'll have these lists:
Start at the top and look at This Year. Review your goals and remind yourself of what you are trying to accomplish.
Review progress on the projects you have selected for this quarter. Are these still moving you towards your goals?
Move down through the lists and start to migrate tasks down to the next shorter timeline as needed.
Eventually, the things that were on the Next Week list will be moved to This Week, with a select few of those tasks finding their way onto your Today list as concrete actions.
Depending on how big the tasks are you can probably finish 1 to 3 in a day (along with all the other stuff you have going on).
If you have trouble deciding what to do, ask yourself:
If I finished just one thing today, what would that have to be in order to consider the day a success?
Do that thing.
That's the full sequence complete. Now there is just one thing left to do.
Get to Work
An effective review should give you energy and motivate you to keep pushing ahead. It shouldn't take too much time either because - while it is important to look at the big picture - it is more important to take massive action.
When done right the weekly review will leave you with an updated calendar, a well considered to do list, and a solid plan of action.
Now all that's left is to do what you said you would do.
When you are ready, here are a few ways I can help:
1. Subscribe to The Lever (if you haven't already)
This covers a science-based productivity concept each week, in about five minutes. Try a free chapter of my new book when you subscribe. And if you like it...
Peaceful Productivity outlines the time-management system I've created over the years as a ship's Captain and business executive. It will help you plan, prioritize, and get more of the right things done. Also available on Amazon
This short course will teach you the fundamentals of a powerful timeblocking system to make sure you never miss an obligation and always show up prepared. Give yourself the space you need to create the life you deserve.
Smart systems to make you productive, prolific, and profitable | Find me on Twitter @SeanPHogue | Sign up here for the weekly newsletter, The Lever, and create some leverage in your life.