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Effective Workflow Management 4: The 6 Stage Model of Reviewing Your Productivity

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[This is 8th chapter in the #ProductivityHacks series currently running on Trak.in]

Today is Wednesday, January 22, 2013 and the time is 11.30 AM. What is the task that I should accomplish right now?

In the frenzy of the ‘incoming’ and the ‘urgent’, we often lose track of the open loop tasks, which we have started or about to start. To avoid this, it is very important to have frequent review sessions of all the tasks which you are currently engaged in, so that the expected outcome is not hampered and we get maximum productivity.

In the last three chapters on Workflow Management, we had learnt how to collected the information, how to create a process out of chaos and finally, how to finish that project. While following these three productivity hacks, we should always do a review of the tasks which can provide us with a better roadmap for the completion and execution of our objectives.

Productivity Hacks Entrepreneurs-006

Often, we come across a lean phase of our production cycle, when we don’t feel like opening that Master List or the Weekly List to determine the action.

During such moments, it is highly likely to procrastinate and waste time by either opening Facebook or aimlessly searching for random topics on Google. By following this model of reviewing, we can determine the action which needs to be completed at any given moment of time.

The 6 Stage Model for Reviewing Your Own Work

In his famous Productivity book “Getting Things Done”, David Allen has introduced this awesome concept of reviewing our own work in which he has described 6 level model.

We can compare reviewing of our life with the different stages of an airplane as it prepares to take off. Initially, it’s in the runway, preparing for the take-off; then it reaches 10,000 feet, then 20,000 feet, 30,000 feet, 40,000 feet and at its peak at 50,000 feet.

We can follow this model for a periodical review of our own work, which can determine how well our productivity attempts are currently going.

  • Runway: Current Actions
  • 10,000 feet: Current Projects
  • 20,000 feet: Responsibilities
  • 30,000 feet: One to Two Years Goals
  • 40,000 feet: Three to Five Years Goals
  • 50,000 feet: Life

Runaway: Current Actions

This is the initial stage of reviewing: the current actions. All incoming information which we are bombarded with should be reviewed on a daily basis during this stage. The current projects, the ‘next action’ (as explained in the last chapter), the immediate emails which needs response right now can be evaluated in this stage.

As I observed, if we stop the clock right now, I will need around 400 to 500 hours to finish all these ongoing tasks! This is how you can review your work for this stage.

10,000 feet: Current Projects

All the current projects which you have created or plan to create can be reviewed in this stage. Projects such as meeting with a new client, setting up a new office at a new location, creation of a marketing plan for New year celebrations etc can be reviewed on this stage of productivity.

These are short-term projects, for which you are required to create a Project Plan, and step by step action blueprint. As you can already envision the desired outcome, you can conduct a weekly review plan for this stage.

20,000 feet: Responsibilities

If observed closely, each and every project which you have initiated has come up because of responsibilities: either professional or personal. In this stage, you can review these responsibilities, categorized as per the specific need.

For example, market research for your product, setting up of customer service protocols, refining business models, setting up strategic planning, group insurance of your employees etc are some of the responsibilities aimed towards your business.

In terms of personal life, responsibilities can be include your family vacations, study planning of your children, purchasing of a new home, medical attention your parents require and so on.

Create a list of all these responsibilities and model them as a list and make a review either weekly or monthly. Imagine the airplane at 20,000 feet, slowly climbing the space to reach the peak.

30,000 feet: One to Two Years Goals

This is one major mistake which most of the entrepreneurs make: they fail to imagine what and where their life will be in the next 5 years. If not 5 full years, we can divide the next 5 years in two phases: one to two years and three to five years.

Just by imagining our life for the next one to two years, we can suddenly get a clear picture of the whole set-up: Where we are right now, and where we are going. Reviewing this phase will instantly give us an idea what should be done at this moment, right now.

Some examples of this stage of review can be tasks like: Initiating new avenues of income, setting up a new business, purchase of a new car etc. This stage can be reviews after every 30 days or 60 days.

40,000 feet: Three to Five Years Goals

This can be described as an even broader vision of your future: the things which can happen with you, your business and your family in the next five years. This reviewing of your actions, set-up against the next 5 years will give you a deeper meaning and relevance to your current actions.

Your plans such as relocation to a foreign country, your family planning, your investment plans, technological decisions, and scientific innovations currently happening in your industry can be categorized under this review stage.

A small change in the outlook of your life for the next 5 years can bring in massive change in the current action list. The actions in this list can be reviewed after every three months or six months.

50,000 feet: Life

This is the big picture: Your Life!

In the second chapter of this series, we had shared that doing meditation in the early morning phase proves to be beneficial. In fact, by doing meditation and other spiritual activities, we can see ourselves from this 50,000 feet view and understand our lives in a more simple manner.

Answers to questions such as “Why do we exist”; “Why does our company exist”; “What are you doing in this place right now” can gradually arrive to you, with specific details of every action you have planned till now. Every goals, projects, objectives, lists, action plans and visions which you have thought or planned till now, will get a crystal clear view after the review from this stage.

Ofcourse, in our daily routine, in our daily conversation with ourselves, we may not categorize each and every action according this 6 stage review model. But yes, by keeping this model in the back of our mind, we can make better decisions for long term benefits of our own selves.

For example, say you suddenly receive an email about a brilliant new real estate investment scheme in Goa. Out of 10, 9 will delete the mail. But in case you have 50,000 feet and 40,000 feet review model in place, and if you are aware that within the next 5 years you are planning to shift to Goa, this email will suddenly connect the dots, and prompt you to take further action in this regard.

I hope this review model will assist you and help you in the better understanding of your life and your mission. Let this productivity hack empower you to greater heights of success!

Previous Chapters in “#ProductivityHacks For An Entrepreneur” Series

  1. Understanding Importance of Time
  2. The Morning Activities
  3. The Four Step Plan
  4. Creating; Managing & Optimizing Lists
  5. Mastering Art of Collecting Information
  6. The Science of Creating a Process Out of Chaos
  7. How To Complete A Project Successfully
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