The fall is my favorite season. Just thinking about my plans for this fall makes me happy. Pumpkin spice latte’s at Starbucks, red and yellow leaves, sweater weather, Christmas decorations at the stores…what’s not to like?
As I have mentioned before, I have decided to get my life more organized by breaking down my recurring to-do items by frequency as appropriate, such as daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, and yearly. I have read so many books about productivity, but never really felt like I could truly be the productive, organized person I wanted to be. It all just seemed to be too much to tackle.
Although I have spent years trying to develop just the right systems that work for me, I have recently started reflecting on how to develop my own systems as the person I want to be, rather than who I think other people want me to be. This has freed up a lot of time and energy that I used to spend worrying about what other people think that I can now put towards my own goals and dreams.
The Beginnings of a Seasonal Review
The seasonal review is something I made up recently to help get my life organized. This is my first time doing this. I am excited, but will likely change how I do the review as time goes on. The idea for the seasonal review comes from a previous failed attempt at establishing a weekly review ritual.
The weekly review idea comes from productivity books, such as David Allen’s Getting Things Done. My boyfriend Michael and I attempted to get into a ritual of doing a weekly review this year. It was actually one of our joint New Year’s resolutions, but it hasn’t really stuck.
The idea of the weekly review was to go to Starbucks on Saturday or Sunday mornings (or sit at the dining room table with a pot of coffee) each week, and use that time to first wrap up tasks from the week before, and clear out any remaining items in our respective queues (such as emails, mail, to-do items). Then, the second part of the weekly review consists of reviewing the calendar for the upcoming week and going through upcoming events & plans such as birthdays, holidays, dinner parties, etc. Ultimately, the intention is to prevent procrastination and the last minute scramble that happens when things aren’t planned out far enough in advance.
Unfortunately, the weekly review for me turned into spending hours going through my email and stressing about all the unfinished tasks on my to-do list. We never actually even got to the planning the upcoming week part because there was too much stuff to take care of to even get to that point. I ended up feeling more stressed after this event than I was when I started.
I finally let go of the weekly review. I realized that I don’t actually need it if I am keeping up with what needs to be done on a daily basis.
Now that I have decided to do away with the weekly (and monthly) review ideas, and to just maintain a daily review ritual of reviewing my rituals (confused yet?), I decided I would like to do a seasonal review. I am thinking that I will do away with the idea of doing a yearly review as well (which I never did anyway), since the seasonal review will be the place where I revise my goals. I like the idea of basing my goals in terms of achieving them within 3 months. What can’t you do in 3 months’ time? Even if a goal spans over 6 months, a year, or longer, it can certainly be broken down into pieces to be accomplished within 3 months, which can seem much more attainable than designating a year timeline.
Components of a Seasonal Review
Here are my thoughts on what the seasonal review will consist of:
- Review progress on goals set during previous season.
- Revise and update goals and corresponding affirmations for upcoming season.
- Review rituals list and estimate when seasonal rituals will be complete (for example, “change A/C filter – first week of fall” – which got done this week! after probably way longer than 3 months, thanks to the rituals list)
- Review rituals list and determine which yearly rituals are due during upcoming season, and about when they will be completed (example – renew car registration – due in October)
- Review calendar to plan for upcoming birthday, holidays, and other special events.
I will also go through my rituals list and decide if anything needs to be changed, deleted, or added. There are some things that I am not really sure how frequently they should be done, such as washing my car (which probably hasn’t been done in 6 months, maybe a year), so I plan to just do them, keep a record of the date, and then figure out what seems like a reasonable time frame for me (after Googling how often I should wash my car, of course).
Time to Do a Seasonal Review
As I have thought about how I want to determine where to segment my year into four sections, I decided the following time points made sense for me since they are easily identifiable holidays that are each approximately 3 months apart:
Friday After Thanksgiving
President’s Day isn’t exactly 3 months from Thanksgiving, but over the past few years President’s Day has been a special day for me, because it is a day that not everyone has off, so there is not typically any obligation to do much of anything. I came to think of President’s Day as “Annie Day” (no disrepect to the presidents). This was my day to do whatever I wanted that I didn’t usually take the time to do, such as go out shopping for nothing in particular, go to a coffee shop to read, take a bath, etc. This is pretty much why I chose President’s Day as my spring seasonal review time point. Someone else might identify with a different day or a totally different system.
We actually did go out of town for Labor Day this year, but came back on Sunday. This freed up the day off from work so I could use it as a day to focus on getting personal things done, namely, my very first seasonal review. I know there will be times when there will be a barbeque or something to attend on Labor Day or Memorial Day, and that is fine. The point of this is just to have an idea of when a season starts and when I would want to plan for the upcoming season. Likewise, it is very likely that the day after Thanksgiving will be filled with visiting with family and friends, but again, it is just to give me a general idea that around that time I would plan my winter activities. And, if there is a free hour or two in the morning on these designated days or their weekends, that could turn out to be a great time to do the seasonal review.
Final Thoughts on the Seasonal Review
As all of my great plans for productivity seem to go, I ended up spending pretty much all day Labor Day working on getting things done as related to the seasonal review (and loved every minute of it), and honestly didn’t come close to getting it all done. I decided to give myself a break, and consider the first week in September as my seasonal review week. Today I worked on setting some goals for the upcoming three months. I still have plenty to do, and the day after Thanksgiving might come around and I might still not be done. But it’s okay! No one is perfect, nor are they meant to be. I am mostly excited that I am starting to get a more crisp picture in my mind of what I want my own life to look like. Just thinking about that makes me smile. Namaste!