Is it near the middle of the month and you’re starting to lose momentum? Or maybe you know you’re prone to make the Plan at the beginning of the month and, two weeks later, have no idea what you’re supposed to be doing?
A Mid-Month Review will help you get and stay on track.
A Mid-Month Review is a review that’s somewhere between a Weekly Review and a Monthly Review. (If you haven’t been doing either, then all I have to say is… Welcome to the Club!) The benefit of doing a Mid-Month Review is that it’s a chance to sync up the monthly perspective with the reality of the way the month has gone. It also happens to coincide with mid-month paychecks, and many of us need to look over finances and such anyway.
While this list of questions is by no means exhaustive, it’s a good place to start. Give yourself 15 to 30 minutes to work through the following questions — it may help if you print this page out: Mid-Month Review Worksheet
1. What have you accomplished?
Always start with what you have done. It’s too easy to not give yourself credit for what you have done and instead focus on what you haven’t done, but that ultimately leads to frustration and resistance. Celebrate before you criticize.
Since this is a quick review, focus on what you’ve done at the weekly or project level — try to avoid the daily details, as it’s easy to nitpick yourself to death or spend too much time counting minutes. Also keep in mind that finishing a bunch of stuff is not a prerequisite to celebrate doing a bunch of stuff; give yourself credit for pushing a project forward, even if you didn’t finish it.
2. What goals or projects need to be adjusted or dropped?
You now have two work-weeks left in the month. If there hasn’t been movement on some goals or projects in the first two weeks, what needs to change?
Be realistic here; don’t assume that the amount of time you’ll put in will change unless you have a really good reason to think it will.
3. What are your priorities for the rest of the month?
You’d think I’d ask this first, but it’s often hard to see what your priorities are in the abstract. Now that you’ve been thinking about goals and projects, it’s easier to see which ones should win the project cagematch.
Be brutally honest at this point: if you have four or five priorities, you really don’t have any priorities. One is best, three is okay. Ask yourself the following question: If I could do only one (or three) of these, which would I do?
Remember, priorities exclude all the possible things you might do. Let in too many possibilities and your “priorities” are meaningless.
4. What bills need to be paid, and do you have funds in place to cover them?
Rather than lose time in freakout mode as you try to switch funds at the last minute, go ahead and review your bills and get your money in place now. If you need to transfer money from online accounts, allow yourself a day or two of cushion so you’re not worried about whether it’ll hit the right account at the right time.
If you don’t have the funds you’ll need, what are you doing in the meantime to get those funds? Do you need to complete one paid project before another? Readjust your plan to account for your financial constraints.
5. What projects or tasks have fallen off the radar?
We all have frogs that need catching. The trick is to catch them before they get too big, hairy, and warty.
A few common frogs:
- Phone calls, especially if there’s going to be an automated system on the other end
- Email messages that require a response
- Uncomfortable conversations you need to have with someone
Tip: Plan a time to do them if you need to get them done; leaving them open increases the chance they’ll continue to slide.
6. When was the last time you rewarded yourself, and when will be the next?
The surest way to burnout and stuckness is to work like crazy without rewarding yourself for the hard work. If your work is your reward, then you’ve got a leg up here, but it’s still good to do something different, if nothing else because it prompts the creative process.
Make an appointment to the spa for a massage if that’s your thing. Have a poker party or go out with the girls. Give yourself the afternoon to play video games or read. But ensure that you do two things: 1) put it on your calendar and 2) make sure whatever you do is more engaging than your work or you’ll still be working in your head.
Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon
You may resist doing a Mid-Month Review because you feel that it’s just another chance for you to see that you’ve come up short. I get that, but let’s be real here: your reach will always exceed your grasp. Our ability to imagine what we might do will always outpace our ability to actually do the things we’ve dreamed up.
So if you look at it as a way of measuring what you haven’t done, a review or check-in will always be a time for frustration and disappointment. But if you look at it as a way of evaluating where you are and how you’re going to move forward, you’ll see that it’s just a way of getting closer to your destination. Remember: any steps you have made are better than all the steps you haven’t made. You are closer, and if you don’t take the time to look forward, you’ll never see that.
A review or check-in is not a time to be dragged down by the past — it’s a time to be inspired by the future you’re building.
Ready to get started? Download the Mid-Month Review today!
Ulla Hennig says
I think the Mid-Month-Review is a great idea! Your post is a big motivation for me to do this at the coming weekend. Thanks for sharing!
.-= Ulla Hennig´s last blog ..Berlin in the Summer =-.
Ali Hale says
“Make sure whatever you do is more engaging than your work or you’ll still be working in your head.”
Woah. I’m having a real “lightbulb” moment now. For a good while, I’ve been struggling to unwind – finding myself not enjoying leisure time because I want to get on with blogging/writing/learning. Wondering what the heck’s wrong with me when I can’t sit down and just play computer games or chat to friends or flip through magazines or just stop *thinking*.
I think you’ve just shown me what the problem is.
(Oh, the rest of the post was great too 😉 I;m trying to get into the habit of reviewing more often.)
.-= Ali Hale´s last blog ..Reframing Work #2: Min Hours, Max Cash – or Do What You Love? =-.
Thanks for this GREAT idea…I have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow with my admin asst…this is EXACTLY what we’re gonna do…
Megan M. says
Ah, if only I would just act on the items described in this post, how much simpler my day would be…
Okay. Okay. I’m going. Mid-Month Review it is!
.-= Megan M.´s last blog ..How I Survived the What-If Invasion of Ought Nine =-.
I especially like the question “When was the last time you rewarded yourself, and when will be the next?” It’s to easy to forget about this crucial part. I definitely put this on my weekly review as well – Thanks for the reminder!
.-= Ottla´s last blog ..Systemwiederherstellung =-.
Janet Bailey says
Charlie: You make a great point about how our ability to imagine what we could do always outpaces what we can actually do, hence the feeling of always coming up short. But the mental shift you describe (from frustration and disappointment to assessing and moving forward) is easier said than done, in my experience. Result: Resistance to the review.
I think I’d add one question to the very beginning of this process: “What have I accomplished so far this month, and how about if I pat myself on the back for it right now?” Might also include telling someone about it and having *them* pat me on the back too. This is different from the “Reward” step (also important and something I don’t do enough), in that it helps build motivation into the review process itself…at the beginning, before frustration over what’s undone threatens to derail the review.
@Janet: You’re absolutely right!
When I wrote “What goals or projects need to be adjusted or dropped?,” my implicit assumption was that reviewing the month would show how much was done instead of what wasn’t. I see that I need to shift the language to be more explicit.
It’s critical to celebrate what you have done – in fact, it can be more important than looking at what you haven’t done. Even better is when you see what you have done in the context of what you haven’t because that allows you to ask some good comparative questions.
I’ll take a look at this and revise it. Thanks for the suggestion!
Harry - GoalsOnTrack says
Thanks for the advice. I can relate to the last one, reward yourself, once a while. We often get so caught up in the act of pursuing our goals, and tend to forget to just reward ourselves for what we’ve accomplished.
Heaps of good ideas and great questions here. On the priority front, so true that if you have too many, you have none. If everything is important, then nothing is important. Thank you for the insights here. I am off to work on that one priority I promised myself: The deeply personal review of Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece, Anna Karenina!!!
I really liked the last bit which brought it all together. I do avoid confronting my progress evaluation for fear of coming up short. Thanks for screaming that out for me, Charlie! Very motivating.
This is great! I love the idea of a mid-month review. It really helps to keep my month organized so that I’m not crazy overwhelmed. I also agree that it is so important to take the time to recognize what you have accomplished so far this month. One of my biggest problems is beating myself up for not getting anything accomplished when in reality I’ve actually done tons! Thanks for the reminder and helpful tools.
Katie Brandt says
I never thought of doing a mid month review. I always do a monthly review with my boss, but doing my own monthly review would be very beneficial – thanks so much for the idea!!
Kim Lee Kho says
Great idea, and the questions/prompts are vital for me – without a clear (and easy to use) structure like that all my good intentions will come to naught. Glad to read that you’re going to take on Janet Bailey’s suggestion because like her I need to start from that position of strength. It’s so easy to lose heart otherwise and losing heart = not completing. Thanks Charlie!
This is fantastic. My first mid month review! Thank you.