Have you ever gotten to the end of a day with very few accomplishments to show for it?
Perhaps your spouse asks, “What did you do today?” and you don’t have a good answer.
There are days when I know I did a lot of stuff, moving quickly from meeting to meeting or task to task, but at the end of the day, it’s hard to say what really got done. It’s like there was a lot of activity, but very little accomplished.
Days like that may happen every now and then, but too many of them are bad for your life. Maintenance mode for too long can keep you from moving forward.
What’s even worse is it’s entirely possible to accomplish a lot of tasks that don’t really matter in the big picture. It’s easy for your day or week to get detached from your life.
This simple exercise will help.
I use it on most Sunday nights to look back on my previous week and look ahead to the next week. It’s not a to-do list, it’s a planning exercise that brings your biggest priorities into greater focus.
Here’s a short video explaining how to use the free PDF.
You’ll notice there are a couple of parts to the exercise, which really only takes about 15 minutes.
#1 – Look back.
The first thing I do each week is look back on the previous week and think about what got done. Whether it’s personal, family, or work-related, I write down key accomplishments.
Maybe I took one of my kids to breakfast and had a great conversation. Maybe I had an important meeting. Maybe I made progress on a work project.
As I’m writing down accomplishments, I’m thinking about if there are any next steps to them. Does the next breakfast need to be planned? Do I need to send a thank you note? Do I need to assign tasks to someone? Thinking through the next steps for previous accomplishments helps me get more mileage out of activities.
And it’s also real time evaluation, because if my accomplishments were too weighted to work and didn’t involve family, it’s time to adjust.
#2 – Look ahead.
After I look back, I look ahead to the coming week, starting with the three most important outcomes of the week. These are the three things I want DONE by the end of the week. They are not action items, they are results.
For example, I may write something like “leadership course outlined and posted to Basecamp.” I may write “all travel booked for family vacation.” These are the biggest things to get done over the course of a week.
Next comes a section for current projects and space to write down some key tasks.
Finally, I end with people I want to connect with. Since life happens more through people than through tasks, this helps me keep my relationships in focus.
Through all of this, it can be personal or business, because both are important.
I do this exercise most Sunday nights and it really helps me stay focused throughout the week. Fifteen minutes helps give massive clarity.
If you want to download this template, you can get it free by filling out the form below!