If you’ve been with us for a moment or two you’ll know that the discussion of time is a familiar topic here at Seven Summers.
Time is something we are very passionate about, in fact, we built a whole community based on the importance of intentionally choosing how, where, and with whom we spend our time. Today we are going to talk about one of my favorite practices from one of our favorite courses, 30 Days To Better Business. This practice is called The Review & Preview. The Review & Preview is another core element of being able to master our time. I talk at length about this strategy in the 24-Hour Work Week because it isn’t just good business, it’s good time management.
The reality of life is this: we all are busy and we all have a long to-do list. But simply adding new tasks to our list doesn’t actually mean they will get done. So we have to get out in front of them, be able to see what we have in front of us, and designate a time to think about how we can accomplish our lists and our goals in a way that is manageable. We have to work smarter and have better control of the work we are doing. One of my favorite ways to save time and work smarter is by having a plan for what I am supposed to be doing and working on each week.
At the beginning of every week, first thing Monday morning, I start my week with a Review & Preview.
Simply put, the Review & Preview is the time every week that I set aside to review what happened in the past week and the progress that I made and getting myself organized for the upcoming week. Think of it as a meeting with yourself. This is a great time to evaluate how my time is being spent, where time is being lost, and also a time for me to implement steps to make sure that things don’t fall through the cracks. It’s the time that I make sure that all my different duties as a business owner, wife, and mother come together and that nothing will get overlooked or forgotten about. And on especially busy weeks, it’s the time that I take to prioritize what is the most important to get done because I may just not have time to get everything I want to be accomplished.
I start by gathering all the loose papers and items that I have collected throughout the week. I am the queen of post-it notes. Just ask anyone who has ever been in my office. These are papers I might have doodled thoughts on, post it notes from different things, or places I may have written down notes on things I am working on. I then process all of them and update my calendars and notes. I also use this time to completely clean out my inbox and address any lingering emails.
Have you sat down and done our Warren Buffet 5/25 exercise yet? The current five I am working on are also part of my weekly Review & Preview. I have an online management system, called Monday, that I use with folders devoted to each of my top five goals. You could also use a 5-subject notebook if that is more your style. There are also apps like Evernote that are wonderful. However you choose to keep your list, during the review part of the week, I use this list to put everything in its place.
Once all those little things are done, I take some time to review how my day-to-day tasks are affecting my long-term goals and if I am getting closer to those. I truly believe that all entrepreneurs have a touch of ADD, and it’s very easy to get off track. So this time each week is a great way for me to make sure that the things I am devoting my time to are actually getting me closer to where I want to be in the long term.
I also have a basket in my office where I file away “avoid at all costs” things. The reality of life is that just because I am focusing on my 5 goals, doesn’t mean that random ideas don’t pop into my head about other things. I have found that by quickly jotting these down and putting them in that basket, I can clear my mind because I know they will be there for me when I am ready to start a new set of 5 goals.
I also have a “waiting” list of tasks within Monday. Clients I am waiting for, vendors I am waiting for, just things I am waiting on. During the review, I look over this list and send any needed emails to people who I am waiting on to hopefully get them going on their end of things so I can move them off my list.
Before I move forward to the preview part of the week, I make sure that everything is in its place and that my desk and inbox are clear. As I am organizing everything, I have also jotted down notes along the way of things that need to be added to the new week. I then start working on lining out my upcoming week and where my focus will be and creating a plan for how I am going to get the work done.
David Allen, from Getting Things Done, has provided a great checklist that I added some of my own thoughts onto for you to use as you are going through the Review and Preview. David believes in looking at those “avoid at all costs” ideas so I left that part off of it because I think that is counterproductive and it only causes distractions. You could also create your own checklist that works for you.
Just remember the whole point of this exercise is to review and preview what is coming… not to be working on things.
- Get Clear
- Collect loose papers and materials
- Get Inbox to Zero
- File anything that needs to be in your “avoid at all costs” basket
- Empty Your Head
- Get Current
- Review 5 Things A Day action lists
- Review past week
- Review upcoming calendar
- Review “waiting for” list
- Review 5 goals and how everything is working towards achieving that.
- Get Going
- Map out this week’s 5 Things A Day action lists
- Add things into time slots for completion
- Get to work!
- Get Clear
The final thought on the Review and Preview is this. You have to schedule a time to do it. Notice how I am making YOU schedule and commit to lots of different things? By giving things a time and place in your schedule it is helping you build self-control. I do mine Monday morning. Maybe that works for you. Or maybe it’s Friday afternoon or Sunday evening. It doesn’t really matter when you do it, what matters is that you find a time, add that time to your calendar and then keep yourself accountable to doing it, or better yet join our community and our collective efforts to keep each other accountable.