Last week, I saw a meme online that said, “Only 6 months to Christmas!” with a picture of Santa in a bathing suit sipping a drink with a little umbrella in it on the beach.
Uncomfortable visuals aside, it was a stark reminder that the year is now officially half over!
I know that sent a chill down the spine of some of my readers — and it wasn’t from the air conditioning. You may be thinking that the year can’t possibly be half over yet, it just started! Or you may be wondering what you actually accomplished in the past six months.
If that’s the case, you aren’t alone. I see many business owners get excited about making big plans and setting big goals in January, only to see those same plans and goals forgotten and gathering dust by Valentine’s Day. It’s not that they don’t want to accomplish their goals; it’s that they get bogged down in the day-to-day and never make a plan for how to accomplish them.
The good news is that it’s never too late to give yourself a fresh start, set a new goal, or make progress toward your existing goals.
Inside Business Class, we offer a Destination Guide called Finding Focus & Mastering Your Day, and it’s the perfect framework for a mid-year review and reset. That’s why I want to give you a gift from inside that Guide: My Connecting Your Day to Your Dreams daily planner — click here to download it now.
Conducting your own mid-year review
Excellence in anything requires four qualities:
Become aware of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Tweak as needed.
Change methods that are not benefiting your goals.
Stick with it!
To conduct a thorough mid-year review, we’ll look at each of these four qualities in turn. Before we do so, however, it is helpful to return to any yearly or quarterly goals you set for yourself. Dig them out and put them front and center. (If you don’t have any clear yearly or quarterly goals, that’s OK; time to make some!)
1. Observe how you spend your days
The first step is to understand how you’re actually spending your time, and the only way to do this is to approach your schedule as a scientist would: observe and record without judgement.
For a week or so, make a conscious effort to record how you spend your time each day, in as much detail as you can manage. (If you have team members, it can be a helpful and enlightening exercise for them to do this as well.) Old fashioned pencil and paper can be fine for this, or you can use time tracking tools like Toggl or Rescue Time to help you.
Once you have a week’s worth of data, review it and ask yourself some questions:
- Did your time actually go towards what you wanted it to?
- What kinds of things suck up the most of your time?
- Do you see any trends?
- Is the majority of your time being spent on what is most important to you?
- How much time did you spend last week on unimportant tasks, and what can you do moving forward to change that?
2. Refine your schedule
If you were surprised by how your days actually were spent, you’re not alone. Often we get caught being reactive in our businesses instead of proactive. That means we spend much of our days reacting to outside demands instead of deliberately choosing what we will work on.
Looking at your week of data, ask yourself:
- What kinds of projects would your dream workweek contain?
- What time would you begin and end your work day?
- What would you do, say, on Tuesday at 10am or Friday at 3pm to make your life and work more enjoyable and meaningful?
- What, when you really come down to the details, does it look like every day to have time to do good work, spend quality time with your family and friends, and to refresh your soul?
Start to make some choices about how you would refine your work to get closer to your goals in the next six months.
And be forewarned: true balance is a myth. We go through cycles in life; sometimes we need to focus more on the business, sometimes more on family, sometimes more on ourselves. And that’s OK! So rather than being unrealistic about your expectations, think about how you can realistically create a schedule that fulfills your most important priorities now.
3. Adapt your schedule to fit your goals
The next step is adaptation, which means making some actual changes.
It’s all well and good to create a pretend “ideal” week, but if you keep running your business the way you always have, you’ll find you get pulled back into your “normal” habits and don’t ever make progress toward the ideal.
Ask yourself what really needs to change in order for you to reach your goals. Maybe…
- You want to get help to delegate some tasks off your to do list.
- You want to table some less important projects in order to focus on your biggest priority.
- You want to set clear boundaries around your time with clients or team members.
- You want to prioritize your most important, creative work each day.
There are any number of changes that may need to happen to help you focus on your goals, but you can only make progress by identifying and applying them.
4. Stick to the plan
This final step can sometimes be the most challenging!
Let’s say you discovered that a huge portion of your week was taken up in answering emails, phone calls, and texts from clients who needed you to put out little fires. You spend so much time reacting to their requests, you don’t have time for your own projects. To fix this, you decide that the change needs to be that you’re only available to answer client requests for two hours every day in the afternoon.
But then one client has an emergency, so you bend the rules on Monday. Then another is clearly a little testy so you just answer a quick email outside your two hour block on Tuesday. By Wednesday a new project has started and you want to make a good impression, so you spend all day Wednesday and Thursday answering questions about that.
By Friday, you realize that your “new” schedule looks disappointingly like the “old” one — and you still didn’t make much progress toward your big goals.
This sort of scenario could play out no matter what your challenges or changes might be, so it’s important to set up a consistent way of reviewing your days so you know when you start slipping off track.
That’s why the Connect Your Day to Your Dreams worksheet is so useful! I suggest you download it today, and then print one out every single day and make filling it part of your morning and evening work routines. I promise, if you make this sort of self-evaluation part of your regular routine, the second half of this year will be amazing!