Reasonable people can agree to disagree on the appropriate length of time to plan forward — a year, six months, six weeks, two weeks. To me, this decision depends on how quickly things are changing and what stage of growth you’re in.
But one thing I’ll go to the mat for is Quarterly Reviews. Allow me to explain their role.
A Weekly Review is a crucial device for making sure things aren’t falling through the cracks. I can’t tell you how often I’ve started a Weekly Review, only to realize that this week I completely forgot about several things I felt were important LAST week.
Of course I know why that happens — something else that is MORE important supersedes it briefly. So you have to make sure to catch these things.
These important but not crucial projects are often big, open-ended, or both. They bob along, getting worked on in tidbits here and there. Even when you finish one, it’s hard to feel much relief, because there’s always another one waiting patiently for its turn.
The problem with this is that you don’t necessarily feel like you’re getting anywhere. You’re handling each thing as it comes, sure. But are you making real progress?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It’s just as likely that you’re making GREAT progress as it is that you’re bogged down. The trouble is, with a weekly review, all you’ve got is a microscope, when what you need is binoculars. Without some distance, it’s easy to let things get out of perspective. Hence, the quarterly review.
Three months is a good stretch of time for larger projects to gain steam, and for small fires to recede out of importance. It gives you that crucial distance to say, “Three months ago I was there, now I am here.” And you can do this for both business and personal life.
So if a Weekly Review ensures that you move these projects forward, the Quarterly Review ensures that you record their success. Use the Quarterly Review to acknowledge those efforts. It’s doesn’t have to be too formal — in fact, mine is on a note card right now.
Step 1: Write Down The Stuff You Got Done
This doesn’t have to be complicated. You can start with a sheet of paper. Just write: Accomplished – Q1 (or whatever quarter it is right now.) Then, write down the things that come to mind.
Don’t worry if this goes slowly at first. Because unless you’re the organized sort of person who already had a list of goals and targets for the quarter, it will take you some time to think back to where you were three months ago, and what you’ve done in the interim.
If you still can’t think of anything, look at your calendar and see what happened. If you keep a dayplanner or a to-do list, look at the stuff you checked off. If there are metrics you can look up, like revenues, sales, or clients won, absolutely record all that.
A day goes by in a blink, a week feels like a heartbeat, but in three months I think if you take the time to look, you’ll be proud of what you accomplished.
Step 2: Share and Celebrate
Remember when I said we don’t get any satisfaction from finishing those big projects because of the ones backed up behind them? Well, this is your opportunity for satisfaction. You’ve got your list. Crack a bottle of champagne, treat yourself to a massage, and most importantly, tell somebody!
I always recommend my clients share this list with their partner, if they’re paired, because all too often even your partner doesn’t know what you’re up to! This kind of progress report comes at a neutral time (i.e., not when you’re burnt out from overwork and feeling like a failure because it took so long.) These accomplishments are safely back a few weeks, so you’ve got your perspective and you’re ready to accept your kudos.
You can also share with your entrepreneurial peeps — in the Happy Hour, or with some close friends. We all love to celebrate our friends’ wins, so let that be your impetus. Who doesn’t love a chance to celebrate?
Finally, keep your Quarterly Review someplace close. We all tend to assume will be more productive than we are. But with a few QRs at hand, you’ll be able to see your output and plan accordingly.