This post is part of the series The Best Tools and Techniques for Winning at Business and Life

For the past year I’ve kept a habit that has helped me significantly to grow professionally and to be more productive.  That habit is what I call the weekly review and planning pause.  This simple, 30 minute appointment is on my calendar toward the end of each week for the purpose of helping me assess what I did, whether or not I’m proud of what I did, and what I’m going to do next week to do as well as or better than I did this week.

The goods with this one are in the repetition.  A wise guy once said to me “perfect practice makes for perfect performance,” and I believe it.  What we practice we become good at, and what we become good at we have a shot at becoming great at.  I don’t know about you but I don’t just want to be decent, or even good, at what I do.  I want to be awesome.  Amazing.  Outstanding.  Here’s one of the things I do every week to try and get there.

  1. Make Sure It’s Quiet.  If you need to leave the office, leave the office.  If you don’t have the freedom to leave the office (your employer has totally missed out on helping you to be your best and serve them better – you should talk to them about this), then do this planning after hours or wait for a time when it’s naturally quiet around the office.  This is important.  Make time for it.
  2. Record The Review – paper, digital, black box recorder.  Whatever.  I don’t care.  Just put it down so you can review it later.  Why spend time doing it if you can’t look back at the data later?
  3. Be Consistent.  Do the review every week.  Answer the same questions.  Give it the same effort every time.  That is, unless you’re okay with totally mediocre performance.  In that case, do whatever you want to do.  But that’s not you.  You’re a pro.  You’re a ninja.  You’re striving for mastery.  So you’ll be consistent.
  4. Review.  Rinse.  Repeat.  After you’ve been doing these activities for a few weeks you’ll pick up patterns and start to hold yourself accountable for achieving better results every time.  You’ll find those ways you’re getting in the way of your own success and making life harder than necessary for yourself and those around you.

I recommend recording the following five bits of information:

  1. Activities. What did I spend my (my organization’s) time doing this week?  To what end did I strive, what was my purpose in showing up for work this week?
  2. Setbacks. What just didn’t go right for me this week?  What mistakes did I make that I can avoid next week?  What behaviors can I improve on next week?
  3. Lessons Learned.  Sometimes this one is something that really bit you in the butt.  Sometimes it’s a profound moment of learning and growth.  One week for me during a chat my plumber he laid down on me some of the most profound people management advice I’d ever heard.  What rocked your world this week?  Whether it was pleasant or painful, it will make you better.
  4. Accomplishments.  What have you forgotten to celebrate.  What level of awesome did you throw out for the world this week that you’ve been too busy looking down to celebrate?  Write it down.  This is the stuff you’ll look back on and say “I rock.  I need to do more of that.”
  5. Next Week Will Be Successful If…  Write down the 3-5 things you need to accomplish next week in order to get to the next step on your goal plan.  No matter what happens next week, if you get these things done, you’ll have lived to fight another day.

That’s it.  Five things.  You write these five things down every week and two things will happen. You’ll start performing better on Monday and you’ll go home on Friday unburdened, ready to rock it with the people you love.  After all, they’re the reason you do this, right?

Rock next week.

Next Page: Get It Right EVERY TIME (not just the first time)

This post is part of the series The Best Tools and Techniques for Winning at Business and Life

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