Maintain You

maintain - Emilymarko.com

Just over a year ago, I was writing about throwing out my bucket and realizing the importance of life maintenance. Although, that was clarifying, I still don’t necessarily feel like I am in control of the daily maintenance of my life. It is sneaky – the gradual build up of ‘stuff’ or things to-do and then BAM! – I have slipped into a state of scrambling. Until I fall behind on the dishes or making time for myself I don’t notice the benefits. Maintaining doesn’t seem super fun – it is redundant work and not immediately rewarding, but it is key to living a proactive life.

So how does one remain in control of the day-to-day? It seems easy to do something just once, but how to infuse into your daily life is tricky. I think it is a balance of focusing on the present and making choices for the future. The best way to do that, is to focus on what is most important to you.

I really like the term from this article about channeling your inner “CEO of Self.” We should focus on the tasks that only we can do. While we are maintaining we should also be delegating. I find this to be an excellent reminder to not do the easy or quick things – if I am always focusing on that type of task I will never get to the “Great Work” – like writing my newsletters and other business.

This month I am going to practice doing what I do best and being sure I make proactive decisions so I can have the time and space for the practice. I will let you know how it goes.

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How do you stay on top of maintaining your day-to-day life?

Please share your suggestions here!

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Year End Review

It is hard to believe 2013 is almost over. Time seems to move by so quickly now, which is why it is important to pause and reflect. I started Year End Reviews several years ago when I followed Chris Guillebeau’s blog. This is the first year that I formalized my process so I could use it with a client though. I tweaked some things, researched a bit and this is what I settled on. Here is a free template to download and use for yourself.

Year In Review - EmilyMarko.com

Waiting until the year is over before completing this process works best for me, but it can be done earlier. For whatever reason late December always brings me clarity, creativity and focus and I like to include that in my review. Just yesterday my interview with Propelle was highlighted on their Entrepreneurial Spotlight – which I am so honored and excited about (woo hoo!) – and that will definitely be included on my review.

This process can be used for business, personal or both. I actually use it for both as I am constantly striving to blend and balance my life – more about that in my next post. I divided the year up into quarters so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming which technically allows you to review after each quarter if you wanted. I just normally need time for events to marinate in my mind before I can reflect fully.
Here are the steps I follow:

What Happened?
Compile a chronological list of everything that happened through out the year. I review my online calendar and family wall calendar for important or not so important events – weddings, birthdays, appointments, networking events, projects, travel, etc. Sometimes I skim emails, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. That normally triggers my memory to what wasn’t captured on the calendar like starting a blog and being highlighted by Propelle. Basically I catalog how I (and my family) filled the waking hours of life for the year.

Remember to include the good moments like achievements, milestones and fun events but it is just as important to note the not so good moments. It is totally your choice on how detailed to get with this.

What Did You Learn?
When I first started to review each year I focused most of my attention on What Happened but then didn’t do much with it. In order for it to be worth my time I learned to start earlier so I could spend December finding patterns and lessons learned. This will probably look different for each person, but the key is to learn more about yourself and your work. Strive for more of the Great Work and less of the Bad Work. For example, last year I made a connection between my health and the amount of travel/work I was doing. It wasn’t a shining moment when I found myself at MedExpress because I thought I was having a heart attack, but instead was told my symptoms were due to high anxiety/stress. What had I been doing for the past 6 weeks prior to that – TOO MUCH!

Determine how you have grown (or not) from the last year’s experiences, accept it and then learn from it.

What’s Next?
This is the fun part for me. Once 2013 is cataloged and some hard (and easy) lessons are learned, decide what you will do with the next 365 days. Based on the two prior sections write some goals for 2014.

What do you need to start, stop or continue doing?
Was there something missing from your list of achievements?
What didn’t you allow enough time for?
Where do you want to be in a year?

Optional
I included an extra step in the process with my client this year and I am not certain if I like it or not. After each quarter or season I asked her to rate from 1-10 her satisfaction level. At the end we determined her overall satisfaction for the year. If you are a data person then this could be a nice quantifiable number to take with you and strive to surpass next year or it could be a little de-motivating (or severely crushing!) and you may want to skip it.

Happy Reflecting!
Let me know how this process works for you or share your own process for reflecting on the past year.