The Power of the Daily Review
January 18, 2014
If you follow GTD and keep your trusted system up to date, then it is easy to leave work every day and feel like you have accomplished exactly what you needed to do for that day. I do this by performing a 10 minute Daily Review every morning.
A Daily Review is simply carving out 10 minutes every morning to look at my calendar to get a sense of what my day looks like. Then, once I know how much available time I have to dedicate to accomplishing the tasks I have in my trusted system I have the appropriate context to know what is realistic to accomplish. Then I scan my “Next Actions” notebooks in Evernote to decide what I want to accomplish that day and I tag them with the “Today” tag. Then, I filter those items with the Today tag so I only have the items I have decided I want to accomplish that day and I leave this “Today List” up on all my devices. Then, during the course of the day as I accomplish items on the list I delete them. When I have an empty Today List, I know I have completed all the agreements I have with myself for the day.
I can’t tell you what a great feeling it is to look at that empty Today List and know that I have accomplished everything I set out to do for the day. This allows me to drive home and decompress by tuning out and watching TV, reading a book, talking to my wife and kids or whatever activity I’m in the mood to relax and refresh knowing I had a productive day. Equally important, is the ability to forget all the things I didn’t do because I consciously choose not to do them but are still on my plate is essential to relieving stress.
By doing a Daily Review each day and deciding exactly what I intend to accomplish that day, I am creating a “finishing line” at the end of the workday. Once I cross that imaginary line in the sand, I can put the day behind me and start shifting my attitude, heart, and mind towards the next part of your day — whether that’s exercise, recreation, or family time. Practicing the Daily Review allows you to clarify your thoughts, collect yourself, refresh, refuel, and renew yourself by having a feeling of accomplishment.
Successful task management is really agreement management. At the end of the day, how good you feel about what you did (and what you didn’t do) is proportional to how well you think you kept agreements with yourself. Did you do what you told yourself you would do? Did you accomplish what you think should have been accomplished?
Wasting time only means that you think you should have been doing something other than what you were doing. Sleep is not a waste of time if you think you need it. Taking a walk instead of rewriting your strategic plan is not a waste of time as long as you think taking a walk is the thing to do at that moment. It’s when you wind up not having done that which you’ve agreed with yourself should be done that the trouble begins.
I believe in outcomes and results not time worked or effort. Once I have completed all the items on my Today List I can go home feeling good about myself no matter what time that is. It is a wonderful feeling knowing I accomplished all the agreements I made with myself.
Since I have started this practice, I am far less grumpy when I arrive home. I feel more in control, and I have a feeling of clarity about what I have accomplished. Most importantly, it enables me to “switch off” from work when I’m at home and engage fully with the people I love most. Crossing your finish line each day is something that not only leaves you feeling satisfied and fulfilled, but motivates you to finish well.