As I talked about in my post on annual reviews, I use a weekly diary-type process to keep track of how everything is going.
My process is simple: I have a spreadsheet in Google Docs which has a number of rows containing questions, and every week I add a new column with the answers to those for that week. I usually set aside around half an hour to do this, though depending on what the week has been like for me it could take more or less time than that.
The exact questions will depend on what’s important to you and what you want to track. A few of my key ones are:
- What went well this week?
- What went badly this week?
- Who did you enjoy spending time with?
- Who did you not enjoy spending time with?
- What’s your mood like right now?
- What happened this week?
In the first two I usually put down things like work, personal relationships, sleep, exercise, nutrition, motivation, and progress on projects outside of work.
Three and four force me to be honest about the people I spend time with, and allow me be more aware of whose company I enjoy consistently and who I should be spending more or less time with.
The last two are great when looked at across an entire year. While the mood question tends to have a one word answer, the other one I treat like a free-text area where I just write down in a few lines all the things I can remember happening, in no particular order. This part is more like a traditional diary, and gives some insight into what I was thinking about/doing each week.
I think everyone should take the time to answer the above six questions on a weekly basis. This system not only provides them with greater insight into themselves, but is also a useful tool looking back across a period of several months.
In addition to the above, I’ve also integrated a few extra things into my weekly review process:
- External data sources — RescueTime measures how I spend my time on my phone and computer, and sometimes faces me with the grim reality that I spent 5+ hours on WhatsApp in a single week. Beeminder keeps track of my more short-term personal goals and habit commitments.
- GTD cleanup — clearing my In list and reviewing my Next Actions list to ensure that everything there is still relevant. More details here.
- Meta goals — spending 30 seconds thinking about how I can improve my weekly review, and another 30 seconds checking my calendar and finding a convenient time to do it next week.
The last point is crucial to keeping up this or any other habit, and is something I will elaborate on in a future post.
Having done this mini review every week for a year now (except one where I was on a two week road-trip holiday and completely forgot) I feel like it’s added a lot to my life and I expect it to evolve more as I keep doing it. I’d like to thank Cal Newport for giving me the idea to do this.
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