Recently, I read a post on Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog about Monthly Reviews. At the beginning of every month, Leo asks himself a set of questions to reflect on the month before. I think it’s a great idea which inspired me to start doing a quarterly review (baby steps, right?)

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past several months quantifying my life. I have a calendar that tracks my daily goals, an app that tracks my meditation, a spreadsheet that tracks my daily behaviour, and so on. Having the data is a great starting point because it’s an objective look at where you stand. As Peter Drucker once famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.” I’m hoping to bring a bit of measurement into my life through this process.

Here’s what I want to review with this first attempt:

Daily Goal

Daily Questions

Mindset

Health & Fitness

So this might be a little messy as it’s my first attempt but let’s try to breakdown how my quarter went. The objective here is to break down my tracking tools and see if I can create a template to use moving forward.

Daily Goal

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Above is my 2016 Hustle Calendar. The days marked as “X” are days that I completed my 2016 goal – spend 15 minutes working on my blog everyday. I’m hoping that a small contribution everyday to my blog will result in big results by the end of 365 days.

My blog is not intended to make money or sell people stuff; it’s simply a platform to share my knowledge and I don’t have any specific monetary goals or anything. The focus is to add value to people’s lives while I learn/research things that matter.

You’ll see most days are marked and some are not. I also put a black box around the days that I published a new post. Days with lines running through them are days that I was traveling. It’s quite helpful to see how I was able to maintain (or not maintain) my habits while on the road.

According to my Hustle Calendar (up to March 31st), I hit 76 out of 91 days of the month meaning a 84% success rate. Pretty good for my first quarter building out this habit. Below are some of the stats.

Total days: 91

Completed days: 76

Incomplete days: 15

Success rate: 84%

Longest streak: 15 days

Days travelled: 15

Success rate while traveling: 47% (7 out of 15)

Posts published: 16

Out of the metrics listed above (and I’m sure I can slice and dice this further) the ones I can benchmark myself on moving forward are Success Rate, Longest Streak, and Posts Published. Basically my goal for next month can be to improve upon my Success Rate, put together a streak longer than 15 days, and publish more than 16 posts.

That said, I’m not too concerned about how many posts I published this quarter. As I build up this habit, I’m more concerned about the success rate and the quality of time that I put in for every 15 minute session. The posts and the quality will rise as I do a better job managing my 15 minutes and refining that process.

I also noticed that traveling put a big dent into my stats. I was only successful 47% of the time while on the road meaning I need to re-evaluate how I complete my morning routine during travels to include the 15 minutes of blogging or try to limit the time I spend on the road.

Daily Questions

I’ve written in the past about the 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Everyday. It’s a powerful tool for habit development and improving self awareness. I’ve been asking myself 7 questions every day over the past 3 months and rating myself on a scale of 1 to 10 for each of the questions. It’s given me some insight into which questions I’m doing well with and which ones I still need to work on. This metric is another great point of reference as I look back on the progress that I’ve made so far.

This quarter’s numbers are a little bit off since I was working on the scoring system a little bit and creating some consistency. But here they are anyways:

January

Monthly average = 8.65/10

Highest average scored question (tied):

Did I do my best to make progress towards my goals today? (8.74/10)

Did I do my best to be fully engaged today? (8.74/10)

Lowest average scored question:

Did I do my best to create meaning for myself or others today? (8.53/10)

February

Monthly average = 7.79/10

Highest average scored question:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? (8.03/10)

Lowest average scored question:

Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today? (7.52/10)

March

Monthly average = 8.31/10

Highest average scored question:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today? (9.11/10)

Lowest average scored question:

Did I do my best to create meaning for myself or others today? (8.04/10)

There’s a lot of ways that I can look at this data but the one big thing that stuck out to me that I became a lot better at setting clear goals each day. Both February and March were months where that question scored highest. March was incredible with a 9.11 average!

This is due in large part to the 5 minutes I’ve started spending every morning setting my focus for the day. I use an app called Momentum that gives you space to write down your top focus in a new tab. Every time you open a new tab, the Momentum tab shows you what your main focus is until you complete it and cross it off the main page.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 9.03.51 AM

Sometimes my focus is a little bit abstract like the one above but on other days it’s very specific (e.g. “Spend 15 minutes working on my tax return” or “Go to my capoeira class this evening.”) I also set a separate focus of the day for my job which helps keep things separate. Suffice to say, I’ve really enjoyed this morning goal-setting habit and I plan on keeping it up in Q2.

I also noticed a big dip in the February average but I’m going to chalk that up to a shift in my scoring methodology. In January, I was okay with including decimal points in my score but I changed that to no decimal points so I wouldn’t sit on the fence between an 8 or 9 with an 8.5, for example. That adjustment in scoring is what is partially reflecting the scoring.

Mindset

For me, having a good mindset for the day starts with spending 10 minutes meditating every morning. And I’ve been using an app called Calm to help me with this process. One of the aspects that I love about Calm is how it helps you track and view your meditation over the course of a month.

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As you can see above, it shows you your current streak at the top and the days that you meditated are highlighted by a green circle. It even gives you additional stats below and an option at the bottom to add a meditation session manually in case you didn’t use the app for it.

The data from the entire quarter is a little incomplete as I was meditating without using the Calm app in January but here are the stats:

January

31 days

17 days complete

14 days incomplete

55% success

February

29 days

23 days complete

6 days incomplete

79% success

March

31 days

28 days complete

3 days incomplete

90% success

Going from a 55% success rate in January to a 90% success rate was a huge improvement. I’d be happy to hit a 90% success rate any month so the key will be to maintain my progress so far. I’ve noticed that adding a habit to journal a little bit after my meditation has helped make the experience more fulfilling and exciting to come back to. I have a feeling that contributed to a successful March and continued interest in me to meditate everyday.

Health and fitness

The tool I’m using for this is called the 7 Minute Workout. Hands down, it is the best health app I have used to date. The workouts are great and the motion graphics make it easy to understand the workout technique. It also has a built-in “7 Month Challenge” where you try to do a 7-Minute Workout everyday over 7 months without missing 3 workouts in a month. If you miss 3 workouts, then the streak ends and you have to start over.

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I started my 7-Month Challenge back in October and above is a screenshot after Day #171. There were a couple of close calls but I’ve pushed my way through to over 80% completion. Maintaining this streak to 7 months and beyond is an important goal for me. At the moment, I’m working on my upper body with a workout called “Pushup Pusher”. I’ve been pleased with the progress I’ve made with muscle development so far as I’ve been keeping track by taking a weekly snapshot of my upper body.

Conclusion

As you can see above, my quarterly review really consists of how I’m performing with my daily habits. Small changes can make a big difference over time and that’s what I’m counting on here. I’ve been really pleased with my 84% success rate with my daily goal, a 9.11 score for my goal setting habit, 90% meditation success rate in March, and keeping my 7-Month Challenge streak alive.

What I’d like to do for the next quarter is to continue collecting the data and keep my eyes peeled for trends and areas of improvement. This quarter’s review is a good start but I’d like to refine this process further. I’d also like to include another review section for “Progress with Projects” so I can keep track of progress for projects that live outside the scope of my daily habits. Further to that, it would be good to set clear benchmarks for success rates, muscle/weight gain (for my health goals), and new subscribers to my blog so I have specific measurements to strive towards.

Please feel free to add below your thoughts and perhaps your experience with review processes like this. I’d love to continue to improve this and eventually develop a template for you to run through a quarterly review.

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