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Making It All Work – Getting Control: Reflecting

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Penguin Group (USA)

(Read caption) 'Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life,' David Allen, Penguin Group (USA), December 2008, 256pp.

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For me, the single most important part of keeping my life on track and headed in the direction I want is the time I spend reviewing what I’ve done, what I need to do, and whether I still want to reach that destination. It takes time – time that’s seemingly not productive – but it adds so much value to everything else I choose to do that without it, I would simply feel aimless and lost.

Because of this, I regularly allude to the power of review, as I did yesterday when discussing procrastination. I do small reviews at least twice a day and at least one big review a week, where I look at every goal and aim I have in my life and ask myself whether this is really of value to me and, if it is, what I can be doing right now to move forward with it.

What do I mean by “review”? It parallels quite closely with what David Allen talks about in this portion of Making It All Work.

Allen argues that there are dual functions to reflection and review, on page 163:

Reviewing your system serves two distinct but equally critical purposes: (a) to update its contents and (b) to provide trusted perspective.

Let’s look at these two roles that a review can provide.

Updating
On page 163, Allen offers further insight into the value of updating:

Invariably, the world comes at us faster than we can keep up with its details. By the very nature of work, when you are doing one task, you’re not thinking about others – nor should you. You may be capturing along the way, but you won’t be clarifying and organizing everything as it happens.

During a given day, tons of little things blip across my mind and my computer screen and the phone and the mail and from the lips of my wife that I need to take care of. Most of this stuff gets jotted down quickly so I can return to the task at hand, and most of those jottings get dealt with in some way later in the day. I either take care of the task or add it to my to-do list.

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