Recharge, Report, Reflect and Refocus
We’re coming to the end of the quarter, again. Can you believe it!?
This is a great time to take stock of what worked and didn’t work, reconnect with your long range vision and your WHY, and identify the most important priorities for the quarter ahead.
Nobody can redline their life for very long without breaking something, and in order to help my coaching clients achieve their dreams and enjoy the journey over the long haul, I teach them about the rhythm of work and rest. This rhythm of work is like a dance of stepping into the system to execute, and stepping out of the system to rest and work on the system itself (ie. to plan). This dance happens annually, quarterly, weekly, and daily.
As soon as we hit Monday morning, we are reminded of what it means to work in the system: appointments, emails, phone calls, client work, deadlines, etc. We can only do this so long before we fatigue and need a rest. People who respect their human limitations and learn this dance are happier and healthier overall.
For me, stepping out of the system includes a four-part process I call my R4 Planning System that consists of Recharging, Reporting, Reflecting and Refocusing. In order to do this properly, it’s critical to take some time away from work. If you can, take a whole week off between quarters, roughly every thirteenth week of the year. The periods between these weeks define your execution period (or your “quarter,” usually 11-12 weeks).
The parts of the R4 Process are as follows:
- Recharge. Take time to let your brain and body rest and recover. You are human and you have limits. You spent a lot of energy in the last period and you’re going to need a lot of energy for what’s next. Take a break from client work and internal work. Enjoy time with family and friends. Get out of town. Eat. Drink. Make love. Sleep a lot. Have fun. Laugh. Exercise. Get lost in a nonfiction book. Get your endorphins going with some moderate exercise, or how about a little adventure? This might sound like a vacation, and it sort of is, but there’s one caveat: bring a journal and your last quarter’s or year’s reporting.
- Report. On the last day or two of your Recharge period, look at your objective reporting from last quarter or year, including P&L, Balance Sheet, and other scorecard / dashboard metrics. Don’t do a deep dive – just find out if you accomplished your rocks and goals or not. Look at the objective data, and begin to reflect …
- Reflect. Now that you have a bit of distance and hopefully perspective, have had some time to recharge, and have reviewed the objective reporting, get a journal and reflect, asking yourself some of the following questions about the previous period:
- What worked? What did I do well? What were my wins?
- What didn’t work? Where did I fail? What can I learn?
- Am I getting closer to my long range goals?
- How do I feel (emotions not thoughts)?
- Am I still enjoying this? Where are my enthusiasm and energy levels?
- Am I still connected with my Why? If not, where did things get off track?
- What should I keep doing?
- What should I do differently?
- What do I need to start?
- What should I stop?
- Where could I use some help?
- and perhaps the most important question of all: What do I want at this point in the story?
If what you want has significantly changed, it’s time for a pivot. If it’s the same or only minor tweaks are required, update your Why accordingly. In any case, part 4 will serve to clarify your focus for the next period.
- Refocus. Bring yourself, fully recharged, reported, and reflected to this last part of the R4 Planning Process. Based on having gone through the previous three steps, do the following (with your team if you have one):
- Define the 3-5 most important “Rocks” to accomplish in the next quarter / execution period (~12 weeks). Make them S.M.A.R.T. Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. A good Rock is one you can have certainly pronouncing “done” or “not done” because it’s just that SMART. Don’t overdo it. Less is more.
- Create weekly milestones that represent incremental progress toward the completion of each rock, up to the number of weeks in a quarter. Rocks need not take all quarter, but it should be clear with every passing week if you are on track or off track to complete the Rock by the end of quarter because the respective milestones due up to that week are either done or not done.
- We are finite and bound by time. The biggest problem with execution is an over reliance on old school to-do lists that ignore the fact that it takes time to get these to-dos to-done. We have another tool that tracks and protects our obligations in time; it’s called a calendar. On your calendar, block out the time you will need to complete specific milestones for each Rock each week of the quarter. Don’t miss these appointments. Remember, you said these are the most important things you need to get done this quarter. The time to work on them deserves to be protected. You’ll probably have to get good at saying NO to other things.
To achieve your dreams and enjoy your journey over the long haul, it’s important to practice some form of work-rest rhythm. Try my R4 Planning Process to see if it helps you feel more in control and less chaotic. You can do it annually and quarterly.
Get access to my R4 Planning Worksheets here.
Stay tuned for more posts about weekly and daily R4 Processes as well.
If you’re sick of being a slave to your business and would like my help implementing the R4 Process or other success systems so you can achieve your dreams and enjoy the journey more, start here.