A Template for an Oral Monthly Review

Posted on March 26, 2009. Filed under: Professional | Tags: , |

In my consulting work I’ve found one size rarely fits all… even when the sample size is two, there are usually some variations for each. True, there is a certain formulaic component to time management. For instance, there are only 24 hours in a day and if you fill that day with 25 hours worth of activities something will be left undone. However, given the same list of 25 hours worth of tasks, two people will complete different things because their values and priorities are different. When I approach my work, therefore, I plan for flexibility and adaptability.

One client recently expressed frustration with the weekly and monthly reviews of GTD. She understands and values the purpose of the reviews… she just doesn’t seem to be able to implement the reviews and keep on track. In her case, she needs to have someone listen while she reviews. So, we came up with an “oral review.” I’ve summarized the components of our five step process in the diagram below. But first, there are some ground rules, or as we call them “rules of engagement.”

  • It is the role of the listener to actively listen in Steps 1,2,3 and 5 and ask questions or make observations in Step 4. The listener is to judge or analyze only to the extent of comparing what was intended (Step 1) with what was done (Step 2) and what is planned (Step 3). If the listener wants to question or react, s/he should make a written note and save it for discussion (Step 4).
  • During the discussion reviewer will speak openly and without reservation during all steps. It is not the reviewer’s task to please or protect the listener, but to use the listener as a mirror to fully express her hopes, desires, fears and reservations.
  • Times are approximate and generally reflect the depth of the conversation within each step.

Oral ReviewOf course, there are drawbacks to an oral review. It requires the reviewer have someone they can trust and rely upon to sit through an hour long review each month. In this client’s case, she plans to incorporate her review with significant others in her life who share some of her same values and goals. By reciprocating with those individuals, she can have a pool of confidants to routinely call upon.

Let me know what you think… would this process work for you? What parts about this process “scare you?”

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3 Responses to “A Template for an Oral Monthly Review”

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Hi, John: Very nice process, and I particularly like the explicity rules for the listener–this is NOT a conversation. One more thing the listener could do that might be helpful for stage 4 is to take note of any “hidden” contradictions or assumptions that she/he hears in the reviewer’s summaries. Revealing them is the essential first step to creating plans for dealing with them, and for me it is one of the biggest values of a second pair of eyes looking at my problem through a differnt filter.

Have a good weekend!–Ellen

Nice catch and good addition! Step 3 is an excellent opportunity to “spot” contradictions and then Step 4 is the right place to “share” them. I’ve updated both steps in the diagram to reflect this. I like the term “contradiction” because it is descriptive, objective and non-judgmental.

[…] this monthly review with a friend. We created an oral monthly review with a few guidelines, please A Template for an Oral Monthly Review for more […]


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