I tried the “last year’s review” recommended by author Tim Ferriss
- I’m not good at keeping my New Year’s resolutions, so I stopped making them.
- Author Tim Ferriss performs “previous year reviews”. I tested it to see if it worked.
- It involves looking back at the last year and then proactively organizing the things you want to do.
I’m not good at keeping New Year’s resolutions.
My usual approach is to think broadly about what I’d like to do sometime in the next year and then put it off. While some things are being done, I often feel like I’m missing out on a lot of what I would like to do.
Author and podcaster Tim Ferriss is known for his time management and productivity hacks. On a recent episode of his “The Tim Ferriss Show” podcast, he discussed his alternative to setting New Year’s resolutions.
He calls it a “review of the past year,” which is a five-step process, essentially about being more proactive about putting plans on your agenda. Ferriss said he started it 10 years ago after the death of a close friend’s daughter.
I put it to the test.
The first step is to divide a page into two columns: positive and negative
Go through your calendar from the previous year and list the things you see as the most positive or negative each month. Ferriss said on the podcast it should take between 30 minutes and an hour.
The first part of the year was spent in lockdown so I didn’t keep a clear record of what I did outside of work but it was still possible to get a rough idea of my week. I also knew what I wanted to do more. Most were things I hadn’t been able to do due to the pandemic.
For the next step, Ferriss then applies an 80/20 rule to identify the 20% of the happiest and most satisfied things on his list.
It will be different for each person.
Besides spending time with friends and on vacation, the positives for me were the times when I felt like I had accomplished something or challenged myself. I changed jobs and finally started wearing contact lenses. Earlier this year, I chaired some live, albeit virtual, events.
Apply the same 80/20 rule to negatives. For me, those were the times when I said yes to something just to do it. Or times when I was stressed because I was unorganized or felt like I was missing things.
The final but the most important step…
Plan, prepay or reserve as many positive things as possible. This is so that they are in the newspaper or at the very least, you have reserved time for them.
“It’s not real in my experience until it’s expected,” Ferriss said in the podcast.
I had already planned a vacation with friends, but signed up for a half marathon in April and created groups to organize events that I was planning to do later in the year.
Then, with the real negatives, create a list of things not to do and put it somewhere visible. These are the things you will try to avoid throughout the year.
For me, it was usually a reminder that it’s okay to say no to certain things and avoid feeling like I constantly have to work.
“It’s not enough to just delete the negative. It creates a void and the void will be filled with all kinds of noise and other people will decide your schedule for you,” Ferriss added. He recommended being proactive about putting things on your schedule. .
So far it works…
I’ve wanted to sign up for a half marathon for months, but I keep putting it off. Now it’s in the newspaper.
It doesn’t fill an entire year and I can already see that it can be easy to lose momentum unless you are disciplined. I think it will be more effective over a shorter period, like six months or even four.
There are some things I would love to book, but just can’t yet. However, it’s a start and certainly better than my usual approach.
I’ll write an update in a year to see how I’m doing. Writing in a journal is one thing, but sticking to those plans is another.