A guaranteed way to leave work and feel a sense of accomplishment every day

Finish LineUsing a 10-minute Daily Review is a sure-fire way to leave work every day and feel a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, you will enjoy the corresponding decrease in stress that comes with knowing you completed everything you wanted to get done for the day.

If you follow GTD and keep your trusted system up to date with specific Next Actions for your Projects, then it is easy to do this by performing a 10-minute Daily Review every morning. A Daily Review consists of two things – 1) review your calendar for available time that day 2) scan your Next Action lists and decide what you want to complete before going home from work. It’s that simple and usually doesn’t even take 10 minutes.

For me, it is as simple as carving out 10 minutes first thing 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 and what the blocks of time look like (large contiguous chunks or small fragmented ones) I have the appropriate context to decide what I want to tackle for the day. I simply scan my Next Actions and mark those items with a “Today” tag.

Finally, I filter those items with the Today tag so I only have the items I have decided I want to accomplish that day. Since Evernote works on my Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad and Galaxy Edge, I have my Today list on each of the devices I use. I leave this Today list up on all my devices and during the course of the day as I accomplish items on the list I delete them.

As soon as I have an empty Today list, I know I have completed all the agreements I have with myself for the day.

By doing a Daily Review each morning and deciding exactly what I intend to accomplish that day, I effectively create a “finishing line” at the end of each workday. Once I cross that imaginary line, I can start to put the workday behind me and start shifting my attitude, heart, and mind towards the next part of my day — whether that’s social, exercise, recreation, or family time.

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 knowledge allows me to drive home and decompress by tuning out by watching TV, reading a book, talking to my wife and kids or whatever. I’m in the mood to relax and refresh knowing I had a productive day.

Performing a Daily Review allows you to clarify your thoughts, collect yourself, refresh and renew, by setting yourself up for having a feeling of accomplishment. 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.

Successful task management is really agreement management. At the end of the day, how good you feel about what you did and didn’t do correlates to how well you think you kept agreements with yourself. Did you actually do what you told yourself you would do?

I believe in outcomes and results, not time worked or effort exerted. 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 – sometimes it’s late at night and sometimes it’s early in the evening. In those situations, I can feel good about going home earlier than normal. 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 distracted when I arrive home. I feel more in control, and have a feeling of clarity about what I have accomplished towards completing my priorities. 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 and decreases your stress.

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The Power of the Daily Review

Time for ReviewIf 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.

Finish LineBy 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.

How to achieve Inbox Zero every day

emailAs a manager I continually hear people complain how email is taking more of their time and that they don’t have enough time left for the important stuff.  It is kind of like complaining about the number of meetings they have to attend and then not having enough time for the important stuff.

If email is taking up a disproportionate amount of your time, then you need to do something about it. Take charge of your situation. Don’t let the constant stream of incoming emails take control of your priorities and time.

I assert that it’s actually less effort to maintain your email inbox at zero rather than to keep any amount of mail that has been read in your inbox. I know this sounds counterintuitive to most people.  Ideally, you should check your email inbox three times a day and process it to zero.

It is interesting to see when people give demos or presentations with their own machines how many people have read and unread email sitting in their inboxes.  Some people I know have hundreds or thousands of unread emails sitting in their inbox. Even worse, many have thousands or tens of thousands of read emails still in their inboxes.

That is what you get when you check it too often, and don’t have the appropriate amount of time to adequately respond or deal with the email. You tend to just leave it there in your inbox. When you leave a lot of old and outdated items laying around in your inbox, your subconscious knows there is still something to be done and it won’t let go of that until it is dealt with. Additionally, now you have to read the email again at a later time to deal with it.

This is totally inefficient. There is a better way – Inbox Zero.

Let’s face it, it will be difficult to go from checking email continuously all day to every three hours or so. It will take effort to change your habits but once you get in an inbox zero habit you will realize it is dramatically superior to your old email processing routines and that will have ripple effects across your productivity, workflow, energy and motivation.

I can hear some you as I write this… “What about emergencies, what about my boss, people need me, what about the important project…” The reality is, over time, people will adjust to your way of processing email. They will learn to call, text or stop by if it is truly time sensitive.

The reason it’s actually less effort to maintain it at zero than to maintain it at 1,000 is that you don’t waste energy dealing with any particular email more than once. The decision about the next action is still unmade for much of what lies in your inbox. In GTD terms it is still “stuff” – something in your world for which the action is still unclear. Every time you consciously or unconsciously notice that email again and don’t deal with it, it wastes energy.

Every single item in your inbox needs to be processed only once. If you need more than two minutes to process a specific email, you process it to your trusted system. In my case that is Evernote. When I am processing email and I run across an actionable email that takes more then two minutes to deal with, I just forward it to my default Evernote address.  That way it is waiting for me in my “Unprocessed” Notebook ready to be processed the next time I am processing.

This way I ensure that my inbox is always down to zero and that at least for a few hours I have that inbox zero peace of mind. Every day, my goal is to complete everything on my “today” list that came from my Daily Review and to process my inbox to zero. Then I can go home with the piece of mind of knowing that I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish and my inbox is completely processed and nothing is going to slip thru the cracks.

How do you maintain your inbox zero?

The Daily Review – Crossing the Finish Line

More thoughts on deciding what you want to accomplish before going home from work.

Think about the activity of defining what you want or need to accomplish that day as creating a finish line for the day.  Many people continue to “work” after the workday is over — to check email, answer calls, stress about problems at the office — when really what they should be doing resting, relaxing, and giving their full attention to their family and loved ones.

By doing a Daily Review each day and deciding exactly what you intend to accomplish that day, you are creating a “finishing line” at the end of the workday. Once you cross that imaginary line in the sand, you can put the day behind you and start shifting your attitude, heart, and thoughts 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.

Since I have started this practice, I am far less grumpy when I arrive home. I feel more in control, and am more clear 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.

The Daily Review – How to Feel Great When You Leave Work

TodayIf you follow GTD and have your trusted system up to date it is easy to leave work every day and feel like you accomplished exactly what you needed to do for that day.  This allows you to drive home and decompress by tuning out and watching TV, reading a book, or whatever activity you like to do to relax and refresh.  The ability to forget all the things you didn’t do that are still on your plate is essential to relieving stress.

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 to do? What you agreed to 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.

Here is how I do this.  At the beginning of each day I reserve 15 minutes for a “Daily Review” where I look at the calendar for the day to get a sense of what my day looks like.  Then I scan my “Next Actions” notebook in Evernote and decide what I want to accomplish that day and I tag them with “Today.”  Then I filter those items with the Today tag so I only have the items I have decided I want to accomplish that day.  Then during the course of the day I delete them as I accomplish those items.  Once I have completed all the agreements I have with myself I can go home and zone out, refresh, and recharge my batteries for tomorrow.

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.

The Daily Review

Daily ReviewEvery morning I have 30 minutes scheduled for a Daily Review and Sync where I spend the first 15 minutes reviewing my calendar and Next Actions lists and the second 15 minutes syncing with my assistant. This aligns us on the priorities for the day and gives her my “marching orders” for the day.

During the first 15 minutes I Review my calendar to see what the day has in store for me and how much free time I have to get work done. Once I have that context I review my Next Actions list to see what things I want to try to accomplish during the rest of the day. For items I want to accomplish today I assign a tag of “today” to them in Evernote.

My assistant has access to my Next Actions folder in Evernote and she prints them out and comes into my office to review the items I have tagged. We discuss them so she has the appropriate context for what needs to happen and then she schedules time in my calendar to get them done. As any CIO knows you really only have so much control over your day as you have to react to the reality of the day.

My boss may call, a major system may go down, someone may call with news that requires action, I may have to deal with an HR issue, whatever… I call this being “overtaken by events.” When these things come up and I can not do the work I intended to do, I am able to recover. Because I have done a Daily Review and synced with my assistant she has the context and priorities to reschedule the day.

I am often overtaken by events but when I am, my assistant has the ability to course correct and make sure I am able to keep on track. I may end up staying at work longer than I want to but when I do leave I have the satisfaction of knowing I accomplished what I set out to accomplish at the beginning of the day.