The 4th of July is nearly here. A day in which we celebrate our forefathers’ victory over oppression and tyranny, a day in which we celebrate our nation’s heritage, laws, history, society, and people… And in my opinion, an excellent day to reflect on all those things we take for granted in our own personal lives…our day job, the things we learned, our loved ones and our hobbies.
In addition to eating and drinking, I try to use the 4th of July (or the 5th of July) as a day in which I review what I done since the beginning of this year; a sort of a midyear checkup to see if I’m one with the ecosystem which is my productivity system.
During my 4th of July mid-year review, I check on higher level goals, put back on track objectives that have fallen behind, and take a close look at what has worked and not worked for me, and of course, take a forward look into this next 6 month of the year. Here’s how I do it…
1# How am I performing at work?
Everyone is so busy with their work-life balance and how they’re going to spend their off-schedule hours that they sometimes neglects to think about the main reason we’re able to have a work-life balance in the first place, our day job.
Every pyramid you’ll look at has a base, a base which stabilizes all the other parts.
Working in a day job or managing your own business functions in your life as the base of the pyramid to everything you do. It serves as a foundation to build everything else upon. If you know Maslow’s pyramid then you’re aware that without a proper functioning pyramid base, all the other parts can’t function as well.
That’s why the first thing I review is my work here at IQTELL. I create a long list that encapsulates all the things I worked on/ going to work on until 2014 and outline how I’m going to do them, this list may include (but is not limited to)…
- Projects I initiated
- Projects that I finished
- Projects in progress
- Mistakes I made along the way
- Pending correction
- Improving workflow
- Things I would have done differently
- Things I can do differently going forward
- Major workflow changes I introduced
- Why some were successful
- Why some failed
- Pending deadlines and outlining how exactly how I’m going to meet them
One of the side benefits of the 4th of July mid-year review is setting up the year-end review.
2# How am I’m doing in the habit creation and learning departments
My resolution from earlier this year included learning two new skills and a major focus on strengthening extracurricular habits. I used the Seinfeld productivity chart to map my progress over time and make sure there’s not one day that passes without me performing something related to my habits and newly acquired skills.
As if maintaining existing habits isn’t hard enough, I’m trying to get three new habits under my belt this year…and this of course doesn’t include a set of three additional habits that I want to get rid of, you don’t want to get stuck with yesteryear’s behaviors, right?
So I made a list of all the habits and routines (non-work related) I was working on and structured the above mentioned chart to display visually my progress over time. It’s important not to inadvertently have a habit override another positive habit. For example, I may have a habit to swim each day, introducing a new habit should not override this swimming habit unless I made a conscious decision to do so.
Since I’m still in the middle of the year, I know everything will not be accomplished but I need to put myself in a position to win!
I decided to learn a new language this year. This will help in my code development skills. It is much like learning a new language; you can’t wing it with hand gestures when you don’t know the right syntax.
To help me learn faster and more effectively I used the spaced repetition technique (more about it here), which allows me to learn a language faster and retain the knowledge I gained indefinitely (compared to other learning techniques I tried and failed miserably).
With spaced repetition I’m able to organize and summarize grammar and vocabulary I’ve already memorized much more effectively allowing me to go back to my “weak points” and strengthen them. Reviewing is also easy; it’s called doing your homework :)
Learning how to code is not so different with the exception that you don’t need an experienced developer to guide you. I use platforms like code academy that walk me through the antics step by step and contrary to learning a new language you have all the answers you’ll ever need on the internet, just Google them.
In both cases I set up a system to track my progress over time with defined goals, and I’m doing great!
3# Am I investing enough in family and friends?
I talked in point one above about the work part of my work-life resolution; how it’s the base that supports all my other activities. Now, I’d like to review what keeps me going when the going gets tough – FF also knows as family and friends.
In order to continue to work efficiently over time and achieve your goals, FF must be taken care of! If your goals are only work and personal development related, you’ll lose your family and friends. Sacrificing your personal life on the altar of productivity actually pushes you away from the main reasons you sought to be more productive in the first place….
Staying in your house alone on the 4th will only leave you with an empty feeling. That’s why the 4th of July is such a great opportunity to visit your family and hang out with friends.
Fortunately, if you reviewed and found that during the last six months you haven’t invested enough in the FF department; it’s never too late to fix that. Work on modifying your schedule to include them and see a sudden increase in your will to do just about anything.
How close am I according to my mid-year review to achieve my goals?
The price of freedom, happiness and personal development alas is constant vigilance, making sure that everything ticks like a clock so you’ll be able to achieve your goals or as Karl Von Clausewitz said:
“To secure peace is to prepare for war.”
If you’re on schedule, awesome! If you’re not, do the required improvements. In any case, follow the advice of those marry ole chaps below.
Until next time, happy 4th everyone!