Following our posts on how to adopt a weekly review process - yesterday we talked about time and task auditing, now it's time to move to journaling.
After checking and registering how you invested your time and energy during the week, you might feel tempted to start planning for the next one. This is a mistake many technical consultants do: "We have the data, now let's put it to use!"
But data without context is worthless.
It's not enough to confirm that, out of your goal of three blog posts per week, you only published one. What are you learning here? That you should do more of it?
What we need is reflection. Ask "what" and "how" led to those numbers. You will need to move from an analytical to a practical or process-driven mindset.
Just like the time and task auditing, you shouldn't take more than 5 minutes on your weekly journaling process. It must be quick and easy for you not to skip it, but also force you to reflect and document learnings so you can leverage them in the upcoming weeks.
The best way to strike this balance between speed and effectiveness when journaling is by using a fixed set of questions. They direct our thinking and make it easier for us to reflect on what happened after the audit. Less is more - three questions are more than enough for your weekly review.
If you need suggestions, here are the three questions I use every week:
- What am I proud of from this week? (Gratitude)
- What one thing did I do that was right, and in what way could I do it more consistently? (Double down on your strengths)
- What was the biggest mistake I made? Why didn't I achieve what I set out to achieve? (Learn and correct)
I also leave a blank space on my journaling template, labeled "brain dump". I don't use it every week, but being able to mindlessly put my thoughts into words has been an important source of insight. Journaling consists of an honest conversation with yourself, and we can find meaning in every word.
Another thing you can do to improve reflection while minimizing the risk of skipping the review process is to do a longer journaling session once a month. Every four weeks, I add those two questions to my journaling template:
- What are the three least-valuable things I’m doing? What can I delegate, outsource, automate, or eliminate? (Identify the biggest constraint)
- Is there any difficult conversation I am avoiding or delaying? (Relationships)
It's up to you to create a journaling structure that works for you. But keeping it small and using fixed questions will make it easier to adopt it in your weekly review process. And that will improve your decision-making process.
Tomorrow, I'll share an overview of a weekly planning process for you to grow your consulting practice.