We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment. ~ Jim Rohn
Last week I discussed how I use a practice I call “Follow-up Fridays” to make the most of my Friday afternoons and to formally close out my week so I can enjoy my weekend. The idea for this was actually ingrained in me at an early age by my father who, unless he was hunting or fishing, reserved his last hours in the office on Saturdays for cleaning up from the week gone by and planning. In addition to the planning he did for work-related matters, once a month he’d use that time to check in on the family budget to see if any course corrections were necessary.
This week I wanted to share my Follow-up Friday Process.
The day of the week you chose for this is totally up to you. I like Friday afternoons because, not only does it save my weekends for family, faith, long-standing friends, and self, but it is also a time I’m not particularly productive anyway and therefore a good task because it doesn’t require much mental energy. Further, because it’s a time that others aren’t particularly productive, if folks are still in the office when I send out follow-up emails, I usually get a quick response.
I recommend blocking off the time you choose on your calendar; especially if you’re planning on doing it during the workweek. I try and reserve two hours. Although I rarely use that much time, in an effort to do a thorough job, it’s nice not to be rushed.
I also recommend using a checklist/guide for your weekly closeout ritual. My own is divided into three major parts:
Review – Starting with my notebook, I go through all my weekly streams of work-related communications (e.g., calendar, email, etc.) to look for items that require action. I’ll cover the specifics of what I do with the information I collect in a future post – it’s super simple, flexible, and doesn’t rely on any software.
Reflect – As painful as it can be at times, during this phase I review my annual goals and my three-year vision. As I’m going through these documents I’ll jot down notes as thoughts that come to mind. Are things progressing as they should? Are the goals reasonable/relevant? Where am I falling short? What’s working? What isn’t? How can I improve? Etc. Then, while considering the items I’ve collected above, I write out in my notebook what I want to focus on next week and why it’s important. I try and limit my “focus” items to larger picture issues tied to my longer term goals. Since my schedule is always affected by the needs of my external and internal customers, I’ll occasionally include tactical items tied to the day to operations of our business.
React – Informed by the two steps above, it’s during this phase that I “get to work” and follow-up on open items and set the stage for the following week. Here is the actual checklist I use:
- Give thanks
- Follow up on open items
- Set-up meetings for next week
- Confirm previously established meetings
- Confirm reservations
- Block off time for No Meeting Monday & Follow-up Friday
- Take note of any Monday appointments
- IM love
A few of the items on the list warrant further discussion and I will get to it in a future post. In the meantime, if you have any end of the week rituals you follow to close out your week, I’d love to hear about them.
Also, for another perspective, here is an article written by Michael Hyatt on the subject. I was recently referred to Hyatt’s work by a reader and friend (h/t DY) and while I haven’t read any of his books, his website seems to have lots of resources and sound advice for folks trying to “win at work and succeed at life.” The referenced article as well as the quote at the top of today’s blog (which I came across on his site) are just a few examples.
An excellent place to stop. Before checking out, how about some music for our ever expanding and eclectic Manufacturing Peace of Mind™ playlist? Here then, a song by the most beautiful soul, Valerie June. Her new album The Order of Time is excellent and I hope you end up liking her music as much as I did.
And remember friends…if you don’t get to your weekly closeout process until very late in the day, take heart knowing:
If you have a drink in your hand, it doesn’t count as working.
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Having said that, I am interested to hear from you. Good, bad, or otherwise, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m the only person who will read your email and, as time allows, I’ll do my best, at a minimum, to personally acknowledge receipt.