29 May The high-leverage habit (that’s impossible to stick to)
One of the best feelings after an intense workout are those pumpin’ post-workout endorphins.
Haggard and drenched in sweat, that first sip of water tastes like heaven.
And then your day just glides by, effortlessly.
But the best part of the day… is actually not the day, but the night.
As your head hits the pillow, you drop into that deep REM. Your dreams are a bit weirder. And after this restorative rest, you awake refreshed and ready to take on the world.
There’s a similar sensation hiding in your workflow. It’s called the weekly review.
One of my productivity heroes, David Allen calls the weekly review “the master key” to personal productivity.
It’s during these weekly review that you:
- Close the open loops that are stressing you out
- Organize your digital workspaces to clarify your thinking
- Set clear intentions and priorities for the upcoming week
- Check-in on the important, not urgent parts of your life
If done correctly, the review – just like that deep REM sleep – is restorative. It interconnects your life’s various and competing priorities.
Yet even the most dedicated productivity experts fail to do it regularly.
Why is that?
1/ It’s not sexy
Reviews do not release dopamine. They do not trigger the “woosh” sound of a deleted email. In fact, they’re more like eating your greens.
You know it’s good for you, but in the moment you wonder why the heck you’re even doing it.
2/ It requires behavior change
It’s not enough to set a weekly recurring task to do a review. A weekly review is a new habit – it’s not just a box to check. So you need to give it the attention that goes into forming new habits:
- How can I make it obvious?
- How can I make it attractive?
- How can I make it easy?
- How can I make it satisfying?
3/ It requires asking the right questions
One of my favorite quotes is:
The quality of your life, is measured by the quality of your questions.
A weekly review is all about asking the right questions. Some are basic (“Where did I get stuck last week?”) and some are quasi-existential (“Does my calendar match my values?”).
So here’s your homework:
Pick a time this weekend where you set aside 25 minutes to conduct a review. Take out a blank page in your Notebook and pick one question from each category:
- What projects are no longer relevant?
- What’s the most important task to complete next week?
- What am I waiting on from others?
- Where did I get stuck?
- What worked well?
- What did I learn?
- Does my calendar match my values?
- Am I showing up for the key people in my life (spouse, kids, boss, direct reports)?
- Am I making progress on my BHAGs? (i.e. Big Hairy Audacious Goals)
- How would I spend my time if I didn’t have to work for money? (And what’s one tiny action I can take today?)
- What $10,000 per hour work should I be doing?