Scheduling time to figure out where you’ve been and where you might go next
Inspired, I believe, by a comment in one of these threads, I took Jessica Abel’s Creative Focus Workshop, which has helped me integrate weekly reviews into my workflow for the first time. I am a list keeper so I often had periods of doing reviews but the metrics belonged to somebody else. My goal is not, for example, to “get things done,” or even to divide my whole life into quadrants (urgent/important/not-urgent/not-important). Once I understood what MY goal was— to encourage progress in my current project— reviewing that progress suddenly felt not just organic, but vital
I love this idea Austin!
Since January, I've been doing a weekly reflection exercise (I do this on a Monday morning) - essentially I write a list of "Good Sh*t" that happened the week before. (This might be stuff I've enjoyed working on, stuff I've finished, stuff I've done, stuff or people I've seen, things I've read, etc).
It doesn't quite serve the same function as your review (i.e. I'm deliberately looking back, not forward), but I tend to use it to help figure out what to focus on for the week ahead. I've been finding it really helpful because I've been struggling with Long Covid, and I realised that I was becoming way too focused on the things I hadn't done (and getting frustrated with myself), as opposed to being happy about than the things I had done. This exercise has definitely helped me tonnes in terms of mindset - I'd definitely recommend it.
Worth noting: I'm sure I stole this idea from someone else, but sadly I have no idea who I stole it from - does this sound familiar to anyone?
I have a horrible memory, so for years now I've been doing monthly reviews where I dig through my calendar and my photos on my phone and my journal. I note down anything significant in a google doc that is now many, many pages long. It's been extremely rewarding. I've been doing it for about 10 years now. Wish I'd started it much longer ago. I don't know why it never occurred to me to do something on a smaller scale on a weekly basis. Think I'll give it a go.
Austin, I do a weekly review and have done this for years. I was influenced by David Allen and his book. I typically do mine on Friday afternoon or Saturday. This has been a game changer for me. This practice has helped me in several ways:
1. Typically each time I do this, I see one task that I need to do that, for some reason, has fallen through the cracks.
2. I find that when I discover a task that really needs to be done, I can then enter it on my calendar at a certain time/day and it is likely then, to get done.
3. Most of all, the weekly review has helped me manage my life - my family life, my work, interests outside my work, etc.
Thanks for this very helpful post, Austin.
I like Kevin’s envelope he posted in the chat: https://substackcdn.com/image/fetch/w_1000,c_limit,f_webp,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/https%3A%2F%2Fsubstack-post-media.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fpublic%2Fimages%2Fmedia_upload%2Fcomment%2Ff7a6b27f-77d2-409d-9a35-7b629bd0e514%2F4a7d9661-2875-4b8e-827f-609e839ee338.jpeg
I use a method I devised called ‘inner compassing’ ; it is totally intuitive and organic and ends up being quite a linear process which I think is really interesting in and of itself (I know many people try to free up creative space by moving from linear to more creative free flowing non-linear ways of thinking and making but I seem to go at it the opposite way - I do let things like that it seems 🙃). Anyway, ‘inner compassing’ is like ‘intuitive eating’ where you just tune into to where you are at in the morning - it’s not some formal process just a light inquiry; what do I need to get my mojo going today? Since I have ventured into the land of digital sketching it has opened up a wonderful tool for my art process and I am usually on that once a day, painting when I can and trying to also spend some time each day on my textile project which is a long term endeavour that will take many months but try and do some sewing everyday (it is a large scale hand sewn sculpture project that my partner and I are collaborating on). If I don’t get to any of it all good - I may need to be in the world more or focus on self care and rabbit hole the world of ASMR videos on utube, do my nails, take care of my skin , EXERCISE AND EAT RIGHT ! All from places if wanting to not having to
I’m not much of a review person🤷♀️BUT I do something called the Yearly Compass which has you fill out answers to open ended questions at the end of the year along with intentions. It’s free and brilliant https://yearcompass.com/en/
You could also do it more often then once a year!
I also look back each week at the art I’ve done for whatever 100 Day Project I’m working on. Helps me see the pieces I like and might what to work on more.
I love this idea of the weekly "examen," especially the mind map. (Also--small world moment: Alan Jacobs and I were briefly colleagues at Baylor)
I really love that you draw it in nonlinear form. That's what I've been needing, and didn't know it. Thank you!
That was an inspiring post. I usually do a yearly 'kind-of' review and a daily what-did-I-do-yesterday which leads me to the what-do-I-do-today but there's a hug gap between my daily and yearly. I need something that brings things a little closer together, and that will let me see that I am moving forward. I do a Done List weekly with my Monday Morning Meeting art group so that is really helpful. I really need a tie in from my daily or weekly doings to my yearly bigger picture. This was helpful (and many of the comments below) thanks.
everytime i read your newspaper i'm inspired. so thank you for that.
what happens when i'm doing a list of what i want to research or write about in the upcoming future, is that i start doing the research and i drift apart from the list and drift on to other stuff. so i drift from the list, and i don't finish -of course- the research.
for example, i'm learning how to speak italian, and i'm doing this list of ways to help me bring the language a little more into my life, so i write down bands, search for a song, then search the lyrics, then end up reading about the band, and i already drifted from making my learn-to-speak italian list, but i know a whole lot about band history.
Your review, Austin, makes life *interesting*!
I’ve accidentally been doing a weeklyish sort-of review. I’ve been filling in a calendar box with a Japanese kanji, drawing on my daily good notebook entries to help pick the day’s kanji. I’ve moved from doing it daily to doing the past week at once. It’s turned into an exercise of finding what made Friday different from Thursday different from Wednesday.
Many Western or modern words don’t have a kanji form, so it’s also a search for the concreteness of the day, for things connected to life that many centuries ago. Egg. Glass. Wood. Yellow. Cut.
Perry and Barry! There is something about the Barry logo that pleases me so much and I want a WENDY version.
“I’m not that evolved “ is something a friend said and it is an entertaining excuse for me not getting everything-everywhere accomplished. 😬 I do have two different journals now! But I don’t review much. There was a point where all my art went into a pile and none on the wall. This is not good for me. I can easily fall into out of sight out of mind mode. Onward through the fog!
I'm a Boomer, yet I have mastered the art of the phone in my 70s. I keep all schedules, ideas, tasks, and notes on it. I can look forwards and backwards at a glance. Plus, it is all there in something called "The Cloud", which is by turns, reassuring and unnerving. #OkBoomer
Austin referencing David Allen's GTD? Talk about my disparate interests colliding. Last year the GTD podcast released a series of eps focused solely on the mechanics of a thorough weekly review, and it totally revitalized my office work management. Admittedly, I'm still struggling to fully incorporate my personal / creative work the same way.
I have multiple journals and ways of recording things but I really love your visual example. I’m quite visual but I have a phobia about drawing and I keep aspiring to draw my notes but then I always freeze. I’m still working on it, but I think I could manage a weekly review the way you have it. I really do hate lists, they don’t trigger anything but anxiety for me. I think a map would actually work for me. Thanks so much for this inspiration!