Daily Review

I do a daily review every morning at the start of my work day. The review typically entails reviewing two maps:

  • Review calendar: what does my world look like today in terms of commitments with myself and others?

  • Review list manager: what are some things I would like to get done today subject to any discretionary time I may have?

I like to see what’s on my calendar first. It’s the “hard landscape”, and because that will determine the work I can do from my list manager in the time that I have. When there are meetings, I have to plan my work around it. The important thing is to be realistic about the amount of work I can accomplish in a given day because it’s easy for me to overestimate the amount of work I can do in a given workday. I also like to schedule what Neil Fiore calls “guilt-free play” activities in my calendar for the day. That way I’ve some recreation/leisure time to look forward to at the end of my work day.

Based on what I see in my calendar, I open my list manager to review the actions that I’ve predefined to appear today — either scheduled and/or due today. I’ll briefly review them to see what I’m working on that day, while renegotiating others that I can do the following day or in the near future. Then I’ll start doing them. After I’ve done them, I’ll check my Next Actions list to see what I can do next. The Next Actions list is my as-soon-as-I-can-get-to list when I’ve any discretionary time at all. At the end of the workday, I’ll reflect on what I accomplished that day along with some other things that will bring closure to my workday, but more on that in a future post.

I do the daily review for a variety of reasons. It lets me be in control of my day. It lets me stay on top of things (when things can get out of hand). It helps me be proactive as opposed to being reactive, which is counterproductive anyway. It keeps me realistic as to what I can accomplish in a given day, given the day’s events. Doing this review helps me plan my day better, and makes me feel good about what I’m not doing. It also helps me be aware of my priority for the day, and ultimately sets me up for a productive day.

I like to begin with the end in mind. By knowing what I’d like to have done by the end of the day, I can plan my day accordingly, which also helps me be realistic as to how much work I can get done, while sufficiently making time for Play.

Here’s how to do a daily review. The first step is to commit to doing it regularly during the week. Then, schedule 25 minutes at the same time every day, in your calendar, to do the review. It’s important that you do the review at the start of your workday before doing anything else (like checking email, Twitter, etc.). That way you’ll make sure to do it every day at the same time without fail, and it’ll also become a habit for you over time.

25 minutes is long enough to do such a review, even though you might not end up using all of it. It’s good to have some buffer, just in case.

Look at your calendar first for “hard landscape” events. Based on that, review your list manager to determine what you can do during a given day. When you have thought about what you’re going to do, then it’s just a matter of spending the rest of the workday doing it. At the end of the day, take a few minutes to reflect on what you did and what’s next for you. This will help bring closure to your day.

Taking a few minutes every day in the morning to do this daily review gives you control of your day. It also allows you to be more present and deliberate with how you’re spending your time.

By thinking about your work once in the morning about the work that you’re going to do for the rest of the day, you spend the rest of the day doing those things on your list as opposed to just thinking about them. Trusting your maps (calendar, list manager, etc.) and performing such a review gives you the clear space to do the things you want in the time you have.

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