The importance of a quarterly review

We’re at the end of March. Which means one thing: quarterly review time!

For years I have been a follower of David Allen’s Getting Things Done system. It works. In my opinion, it is the first step in allowing you to start being more productive in all areas of your life, not just your career. I think one of the common misconceptions about the whole GTD methodology is that it is just for work. For go-getting executive types. The ones with the sharp suits. Spoiler alert: that’s not me.

What I am is a busy person with a tendency to over-commit. I also keep a level head in a crisis and in the face of overwhelm, which helps people believe that they can dump more sh!t on me because I am keeping my head above water. It’s great, really. I love it.

But being productive is only one part of the picture. I don’t want to be super-efficient at all the wrong things. That is about as fulfilling in the long term as doing nothing at all. So while a lot of people focus on the lists and gadgets to implement GTD, for me the most important – and oft overlooked – part is the weekly review.

In order to really stay on track though, I think it is vital to implement a quarterly review. Why? I hear no-one ask, because that sounds like just another thing to add to the list. I’m going to tell you anyway. You can say thank you later.

It gives you a chance to course correct

If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans – Woody Allen. We set out at the beginning of the year with the best information available at the time. Then external circumstances change. Even if you’ve been making good progress, if things have changed too much, you’ll just keep getting further and further away from the new best end result. Every three months is a good time to assess those changes and course correct as necessary.

It motivates you when you see how much you’ve achieved

I’ve already hit the my first big writing goal of the year. I’ve got a huge house project that’s been hanging around for ages done at last. Sure, I’ve not been perfect, but it’s not been terrible.

It gives you a framework to address consistent areas of weakness

I haven’t hit any of my health goals for this year. In fact, it’s the one area of my life that when I look back over the past three months, I see consistently poor and even backwards progress in some cases. We’ve all got these areas on our life. The hardest part is facing up to them. This is your chance to do so.

*puts down doughnut*

It means you don’t look at your New Years Resolutions in December and realise you’ve wasted another year

Because we’ve all done that, right?

A few quick step-by-step approaches

1. Review the goals you set at the beginning of the year and assess the progress you’ve made. Honestly.

2. Get rid of those goals you added on because you thought you should, not because you wanted to. You’ve got no reason to do them, not emotionally, so they’ll just clog up your list. You need goals that you’ve connected to, the ones that have a why? attached.

3. Have you been capturing all those things you need to do into somewhere reliable? If not, do a mindsweep and do it now. Put it on paper, on your laptop, your smartphone, whatever you choose. Just make it somewhere you’ll look that you trust.

4. Look over your life – all areas, all levels. Is what you’re doing consistent with your roles and responsibilities? Your dreams? Your 2-5 year vision? There’s no great mystery behind this. If you start doing it, honestly, you’ll find some part of your psyche tugging you towards something if you’re off track.

5. What next action steps do you need to take to get moving again on your goals?

6. Pick one of them and do it immediately once the review ends.

That’s it. It really is that simple. All it takes is the commitment and will to move forwards.

Good luck!


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