Inspired by a session on personal retrospectives from my colleague Johannes Thönes I wanted to share a methodology combining meditation and GTD I am experimenting with.
I am currently trying to get into the habit of meditating regularly on busy days. I am currently working with 15 minutes of sitting still and focusing on my breathing. Nothing fancy. If thoughts come up during that time I register them and don’t try to fight them whilst softly trying to steer my focus back to my breathing.
After 15 minutes inevitably there will be thoughts that came up several times and couldn’t be pushed away too easily. Those I write down and try to “put them somewhere”. Following the principles of Getting Things Done to do something with every item to get it out of your head and allow you to focus on important things. Retrospectives follow a similar principle by trying to define action items for each issue discussed.
What can action items or “put them somewhere” be for a personal retrospective?
I have items I simply put into my calendar as a ToDo to ensure I can’t forget them and therefore have them out of my head.
Another category is things that have happened during the day and I worry about. Here I have two answers if I really think I screwed up I write down one first step to resolve it. Eg. Talk to the colleague I think I offended. But often enough it’s things that aren’t really that bad and can’t be changed anymore in retrospect. Here I try to let myself of the hook by saying out loud. “It is ok. You can’t change it. Stop worrying about it.”
Last category – I am awesome at that – worry about the future. Spin scenarios that could happen if like one million strange things happen at once. Here similarly to past events deciding on a first step works well for me. What can I do to get one step closer to demystifying that future situation. Eg. talk to person X about her experience with similar situations in the past.
This is my current process. Following some basic principles that kind of run through no matter which methodology you look at. Mindfulness practise, agile methodologies, GTD. In the end it’s all about getting the stuff out of your head, sorting it and defining the next possible action.
Curious to hear about your processes.