Progress Reviews

March 3rd, 2015

So, it’s March already, which is almost one-sixth of the way through the year, 16%–give or take, and I’m sitting around moping because I don’t feel like I’m making any progress on any of my projects. It’s too cold and I’m too poor to do the fun woodworking projects I want to do. The writing project I started back in October is still on hold, mainly because I keep writing myself in circles. I don’t know where to go from here, my other four or five writing projects are also on hold because I wanted to do this other one first. Even my projects at work are taking significantly longer than I feel they should–I’m figuratively spinning my wheels on the winter ice that’s fallen on my Roadway to Success™.

In Getting Things Done, David Allen talks about a review system. Every few months, weeks, days, you’re suppose to look at all your open projects and figure out where they are. Are you still doing them? What’s the next action item? How is it coming along. This can be super depressing when nearly all of your projects are in a “waiting” stage, waiting on warm weather, waiting on money, waiting on inspiration, waiting for someone to do the thing they said they would do.

I just want to see progress and when there is no progress to see, it can be frustrating. Maybe the reason I don’t see progress is because I’m looking in the wrong spot.

If I’m looking at what I want to still accomplish, I’m looking forward, I’m not going to see behind me. I’m not seeing the stuff I’ve already done.

That’s the second half of the review process. That’s something I think we forget about, at least, I know I forget about it.

It’s only day 59 of 2015, but it’s actually been a busy year, if I stop to think about it. I did just finish building a small bookshelf for my dining room. The water filter and new faucet in my kitchen have truly improved my standard of living. I don’t have any good way to track my word count right now, but I spent a fair amount of time writing this year, even if it feels I don’t have anything to show for it. I don’t want to count my work projects, but I did have that business trip… and there was that event I ran camera for. Somehow in the past eight weeks I’ve managed to watch 17 movies and finish reading 12 books. When did I find time for that?

“People overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a year.” – Bill Gates

The point is, as important as it is to look forward, it’s also good to look back. Looking back we can remember the things we have done, learn from our mistakes, and make sure we’re still headed on the path we want to be on.

There’s fulfillment that comes from looking back on your accomplishments, but you only get it if you take time to reminisce. A few weeks back a friend and I were discussing the balance between doing awesome things and telling everyone about the awesome things you are doing. If you spend too much time doing one of those you won’t have time for the other.

I don’t know if it’s really important to try to balance these things, I think it’s a futile battle for most of us. The reason we talk about balance is because we regret spending too much time on this thing or that, and then we feel guilty about it. Which is really just crazy. We need to accept that we will spend time on the things we think are important. When there are other important things we need to pay attention to, then we decide what takes precedence. Rather than give everything a set percent all the time, why can’t we give some things 100% some of the time?

Truthfully, we can. We’re adults. (Most of us.) Being an adult just means that we’re expected to take responsibility for our actions, own up, do what we think is right, and live with the consequences. Welcome to life.

Take some time to review the first two months of your year. There’s probably a few things you did that you forgot about. And if there’s things you planned to get to, but didn’t, well, you still got ten more months to go, and this review can help give you the motivation to make it happen.