I live and die by the Friday review.
(The Friday part is arbitrary; pick a day of the week and go).
It’s something I began doing in earnest at the start of the year as a way to keep on track with my larger-scale projects. It’s easy to get mired in the details on a day-by-day basis, and I tend to lose sight of the big picture.
The Friday review is a correction for that. Every Friday, I look over my quarterly and monthly goals, and look at my to-do list for the week to assess how I’m doing. Then I draft up a list of tasks for the following week.
It’s really that simple, though I’ll get into it in more depth if it’s something you’re interested in trying for yourself – something I highly recommend.
What is involved in the Friday review?
The very first thing I do with my Friday review is go over finances. I pay off my credit card (we have no debt and I pay off our card promptly), take notes in my family’s personal budget, and note any income and expenses with my business.
Since I work with someone in my business (PianoTV.net), I make sure to send him any income he’s earned each Friday. We have small streams of income filtering in throughout the month (as well as expenses), so I need to divvy it up weekly in order to stay on top of it.
Weekly to-do list
Once the budget portion is done, I look over the to-do list I made for the week. I assess what I’ve accomplished and if there are any loose threads that need tying.
I cross off what’s finished, and I mark which ones must be carried over into the following week.
Any habit-based items on the list, such as “walk every day for 45 minutes”, I figure out how close to that figure I came and make a note of it.
Friday review: Write-up
From here, I do a full write-up. I like actually writing about my week because it’s a way to re-experience everything that’s happened, and everything I’ve accomplished. The act of writing about it has a way of slowing down time and make me more attentive to details as I go through my week. It has the effect of making each week less of a whirlwind.
I can’t really explain it, but it’s magic.
My write-ups are done journal-style, and are usually about 1000 words. It takes about 30 minutes to do. My goal isn’t to write something amazing, but to look over the various areas of my life (work, family, friends, etc.) to see if my week was balanced.
(I’ll share a write-up at the end of this post so you can see what I mean).
A new to-do list for the week
From there, I re-calibrate for the next week. I draft up a new to-do list for the coming week.
This is done by carrying over any items from the previous week that I didn’t finish, and also by looking at my monthly to-do list to see what I can tackle in the coming week.
I make sure to arrange things by category (business, relationships, etc.). I also like to be quite specific when marking things down here, because I believe in the power of specific and actionable tasks.
Update everything on Nozbe
Finally, I take my big to-do list and input it onto an app called Nozbe. It’s a paid app (monthly subscription), but it’s extremely valuable and I can’t imagine not having it.
It’s basically a beautiful, intuitive and highly functional to-do list. You can keep track of projects and larger tasks with Nozbe, you can share tasks with other users (something I do with my business partner), you can attach images, files and links to to-do list items, and so much more.
I also like to go through my calendar and mark down anything from my calendar into Nozbe. That way, when I look at my daily to-do in the morning, I have a full list of what needs to be done (including appointments).
My planning system
I’ve tried various systems over the years for keeping organized, but what I find works best is a nice, big, unlined notebook (I’m obsessed with my Pentalic, and have had several). I use this notebook for anything – lists I make, ideas I have, goals, and so on. My life is in this notebook, including all to-do lists.
Aside from my notebook, I have Nozbe on my computer and phone. This is how I keep track of my day-to-day schedule.
Then there’s my calendar – it’s just a Google calendar attached to my email. The only things that go on my calendar are time-bound things like appointments and meetings.
Finally, I use Evernote. This is where I clip anything I want for reference – it’s like my digital Pentalic. My yearly goals, quarterly planning and 100 Dreams list all live here, in addition to any other random things I decide to save (anything from a hair product I want to try, to a password for an obscure site, to a blog on brands of cat food).
I tend to clean up my Evernote once a month or so, sorting through everything, giving notes a new home or deleting things that have become irrelevant.
All in all, my Friday review takes about 2 hours to do. That might seem like a lot of time, but it pays abundantly in focused productivity during the week. It’s easily the best thing I do to stay on top of my many plans and projects.
Depending on where you’re at in life, a detailed Friday review might be overkill. But I think most people could benefit from it. Give it a try for a month and see how it feels! The worst that could happen is you’re more organized and aware of how you’re spending your time… 🙂
A Friday Review Write-Up Example
Another great week!
So what made this week great?
1. The pacing was good
It can be exciting when things move really fast, when you’re bouncing from one task or appointment or meeting to the next. But I always feel dissatisfied at the end of days like this, laying in bed, the first time I’ve breathed all day. Why is the end of the day the first time I’ve breathed?
I like when life moves at a decent clip – fast enough to be fun – but you can still see the scenery out the window. And this is a delicate balance of having plans and tasks, but not too many.
I got the math right this week. Two days of work, quality time with my mother and a couple friends, and lots of time at home tending to chores, and outside tending to the springy weather. I breathed all week long. Jane and I had a lot of fun. Even when the furnace broke down again! (It’s getting replaced Monday.) Even when the giant convoy of carbon tax protesters, complete with their “I love gas” stickers on their trucks and semis, caused a stone to fly at and burrow into my windshield when I was on the highway (a $65 fix, no biggie)! Even when Jane shirked her afternoon nap today (which is why I’m writing this at 10pm).
Things will always go wrong forever. Such is life. Might as well have fun.
A meeting with ___
I had a meeting with an innovative company called ___. The two guys who run the business are very enjoyable, down-to-earth people and I had a great time chatting with them. So great, in fact, that I pitched them on participating in my online conference. I haven’t formally asked anyone yet – that’s something I’m starting next week. But I thought – hey, if they say yes, I’ll have a couple names that I can name-drop when asking other people to participate.
And they were an easy yes! They dig the idea and they’re happy to participate. My first big win. Thanks Universe! You’ve got my back on this online convention.
More on the online convention
I’ve been doing a lot of prep work for next week, where I’m going to start messaging people about being speakers at my convention. Basically I’ve just searched my personal network for potential connections. It’s easier to email people who are “warm” – like a friend-of-a-friend situation – than to send cold emails, so I wanted to see how many warm emails I’d be able to get going.
Not very many. But a few. I’ll be spending the next few weeks in heavy correspondence. It’ll be tough next week, since it’s the last week of my course – the two are overlapping – but after that it shouldn’t be too heavy a load.
I’ve been feeling a lot of energy toward posting on my blog, and rode the wave of inspiration on Wednesday. Like I talked about last week, I gotta exercise that muscle!
I have a piano teacher!
Finally, after years of dallying, I’ve scheduled regular lessons with a piano teacher. I haven’t taken lessons for a decade (aside from random one-offs, usually with people I used to work with). And I wanted the experience of a mentor.
So I found a teacher through the conservatory – we’d actually met before (the piano teaching world is small in Regina). And she’s quite accomplished, having just finished a stint studying in Hungary. She’s going to help upgrade my skills so I can pass my grade 10 with a mark of 70% or higher – the mark needed to go on to the next level.
Private mentoring of any kind is expensive, but I also can’t think of anything else that’ll propel your growth faster. I’d love to have mentors forever. Universe, I’d like enough money to have personal mentors for whatever projects I’m working on, okay?
The Jesus Veggie Truck Came to Town!
Shoutout to the ABC truck for rolling through Regina. I spent way too long in a semi-truck stocked with all kinds of exotic vegan meats, cheeses, condiments and so on. It was heaven. It was crowded. There were familiar faces (the vegans of Regina are a close-knit community).
Speaking of dolla bills…
Mike and I haven’t had a date night in a few weeks – plans have been falling through. But the Universe did us a solid this week – there’s a six-course vegan pop-up dinner (complete with wine tasting) tomorrow, and we’re in it to win it. My mom is babysitting. She’s been helping out a lot lately, and I’m lucky for it.
I initially hesitated to buy tickets because it’s expensive, but then I realized that life experiences are far more valuable than money in a bank account (especially when it’s a relatively inconsequential amount – it’s not like it was the difference between us having groceries for the rest of the month or not).
So this is random. But every year I declare how much I hate gardening. It’s not because of the gardening itself, it’s because I suck at it. But you suck at everything until you learn about it and get good.
My parents live out of town and have good land. I’m there often enough anyway, so I’m going to grow things on a plot there. I have a little greenhouse in our sun room and am armed and ready with some early-start seedlings (tomatoes, peppers and eggplants particularly enjoy an early start). I’m also starting some lettuce, collards and chard because they can be transplanted at the end of April – they can tolerate some frost and don’t like it too hot.
I like the idea of growing things. There’s an appeal in country life, in sinking your hands into dirt. But I also hate bugs. There was a spider in my lettuce the other day and I started screaming – no control over that reaction at all. Mike thought I was dying. So there’s a disconnect there. Ha!
But then, I like the convenience of buying things. Of having people grow things for me. Skip out on all that labor. But then I wonder – in doing so, am I also skipping out on something fundamentally human? I love to do “higher” work – work that involves more high-level decision-making, more intelligence – but those kinds of things take me out of my body.
I spend so much of every day in my head. The idea is that gardening is a way out. A way into the present moment.
Plus it’s something I’d like Jane to grow up experiencing. It’s a productive way for us to spend time outside.
Other habits I have on the go – walking 45 minutes a day (I succeed most days), baby gym 2x/week (it’s basically a BYOBaby HIIT thing), other workout 3x/week. Mostly consistent.
Mostly eating well, but I’ve definitely enjoyed a thick slice of banana bread or blueberry scone when the opportunity arises. And I’m not losing weight as a result. But I’m cool with that for now. I might not be losing weight, but I can eat as much as I want with very little restriction and not gain weight, so that’s a good place to be.
Listening to audiobooks and podcasts on my drives. Still reading voraciously (particularly enjoying James Altucher’s Choose Yourself right now). I’m also reading a meditation book so I’ll try to meditate for a few minutes each day and see how that goes.