|Focusing your vision, achieving results|
-- E.B. White
Although there may be other variations, for the most part the systems can be summarized as involving (a) both backward and forward review in the evening, (b) both backward and forward review in the morning, and (c) backward review in the evening and forward review in the morning. What do I mean by "backward review" and "forward review"? A backward review is a review of a period of time that is past. In this newsletter, I am referring to the day that has passed, but in other situations we may also choose to examine a week, a month, quarter, or year as it ends -- as do most major businesses. What did we achieve? Were there gains? Losses? What was going on? What interfered with our plans? What could we have done differently? Are there left-over loose ends that need to be tied up, or at least scheduled, before we get swept forward in the hurly-burly of the oncoming day? What are the lessons learned, the insights reached?
I find it particularly useful to those clients who tend to see themselves as less than fully effective to ask them to list their achievements before we talk each week. Often if they have not done this they will start their coaching session with concerns about what they have not done, and their lack of progress. However, if they complete what I call the "call focus form" they have listed, in one section, the things that they actually DID achieve, and they are often surprised to see how much they have done.
When it comes to forward review, again, this may constitute a plan for the day, or for any longer period of time. (It is noticeable, however, that in these fast-moving times, even the larger, and therefore most long-term thinking companies create five-year or ten-year plans in only the lightest of penciled-in plans, for they know that the world will change in the meantime.)
For the day-long forward review, several things are important. One is that as we make that review, and plan for the coming day, we allow ourselves to step back and look at it in perspective. Where are the deadlines and the pressures? What is scheduled for specific times? What else has to be achieved between those scheduled times? When will we do which?
Elsewhere I have written of what I call "flex blocks" which enable us to more often absorb the sudden emergencies and unexpected events that tend to knock us off schedule. For example, suppose the morning and afternoon are scheduled for business events, and the evening for family -- a fairly normal type of schedule for those who do not work from home. Comes the mid-morning phone call from the school nurse that Sally is sick, or injured, and needs to be taken to the doctor, and our business plans for the middle of the day are suddenly on hold. Our reaction to this is often simply to write off whatever we had planned for that part of the day, which can in some circumstances lead to problems. Another way to look at it is to realize that the emergency involved family time. Hence, if we mentally flex part of that family time from the evening to the time that we took Sally to the doctor, we can move the neglected business activity to the evening. Obviously this may not work if others are also involved, but many times it can be useful. Flex blocks enable us to feel less out of control when the unexpected arises. We can simply "drag and drop" two sections of our calendar so as to exchange them.
Flex blocks may fit between appointments and meetings, or may include them. It is a good idea to decide, during the forward review, what will fit where. It is unwise to assume that one will get to unscheduled things as and when time allows, without scheduling them. Time boundaries can get very fuzzy if we do that, with all of the day's unscheduled tasks somehow sliding back toward the end of the day and resulting in a last minute rush, or another evening of working late, neither of which is conducive to our feeling that we are in any way in control of our lives.
So what works for you?
Although it works for some people, I don't believe in leaving the backward review until the following morning. Too many nuances can be lost, or the morning rush can cause the entire review to be left undone "just this once." Another advantage of an evening review is that it can include the daily "gratitude journal" in which one writes at least five things experienced or observed during the day for which one is grateful. This is a life-changing ritual that I recommend to all.
The forward review, however, can be done either in the evening or first thing in the morning. If your mornings are habitually a chaotic rush of trying to get other people to do what they need to do before a deadline, then perhaps evenings are better for you. On the other hand, for some people having the forward review completed in the evening causes them to start working on the next day's issues when it is actually time for them to be relaxing at home, or even when they are trying to sleep. For them, a morning review may be the better way to go.
It was Socrates who commented "The unobserved life is not worth living." Developing the habit of carrying out a backward and forward review can help us to keep our lives under observation. It can also help us not to feel that we are being swept forward on a tide of time with neither paddle or rudder. Journaling based on those reviews can record those observations for future comparison, which can be even more enlightening. But the topic of journaling is for another time.
Copyright Diana Robinson, Ph.D., PCC, Personal Effectiveness Coach, who can be reached at http://www.ChoiceCoach.com.
This week, what actions will you take to assess, plan and accomplish?
Last month, we had a number of folks focusing on cleaning their offices and preparing client deliverables. What project would you like to get on top of and accomplish? Join us in Pounce on a Project to complete the project that will result in the biggest positive impact on your life or business for Q1. Come to "O'Pounce on a Project."
Join Coach Andrea on Thursday, March 17th (St. Patrick's Day, here in the States), from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Eastern. We will join as a group by phone and declare what you want to accomplish: planning your next marketing piece, backing up your computer before you buy a new one, finishing your taxes, making cold calls, organizing your office, simplifying your filing system, or cleaning under your bed.
During the morning, the group will gather by phone a few times to check progress and get any support needed to finish with a bang. At noon, the group will celebrate their accomplishments. Who says projects have to be boring and tedious? Bring your lightness and fun and join us for energization. To sign up and learn more, call or e-mail Andrea by noon on March 16th. Feel free to share with friends and co-workers, the more the merrier. (Cost of the program is only the cost of the long distance calls.)
Do you often find yourself rushing at the last minute preparing for an appointment or meeting; or showing up for it not as prepared as you would have liked? Try this best practice behavior. As soon as you book an appointment or meeting on your calendar, pick an appropriate time to prepare for it and write it down (activate it) on that day's to-do list. It should be at least the day before, leaving sufficient time to gather and review all the information and material you might need.
This little bit of early preparation will yield significant results; in that you'll show up for meetings and appointments fully prepared, and without all that stressful last minute scrambling.
Alan Freitas - President
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