Catholic Husband

Love / Lead / Serve

Pausing to Advance

I have a recurring to-do that pops up every Thursday that reminds me to complete a weekly review. This is a fairly standard practice, popularized by David Allen, that gives you an opportunity to take a 40,000-foot view of your work on a regular interval. You go through all of your inboxes and task lists, make sure that they’re updated to reflect your current priorities, and prepare yourself for the upcoming week.

My compliance with this recurring to do is poor. Most weeks I delete it from my list, without having done the work, sometime the following week. The reason is as simple as it is predictable. Something came up. The irony is that by not taking the time to get organized, by not pausing to ensure that my systems are maintained, I end up in a greater state of chaos.

Military historians use tongue-in-cheek phrases like “strategic retreat” or “advance to the rear” to describe retreats conducted by military units. There are many reasons to retreat, but the best is when you actually believe that by falling back, you can regroup, regain the initiative, and advance on the enemy. That’s precisely what the weekly review is meant to give me.

It’s easy to believe things objectively in the abstract. I know that eating healthy will give me more energy; I know that speeding shaves seconds off any journey; I know that saving money is its own reward. The problem is what Mike Tyson so eloquently articulated, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

It’s precisely in those busiest weeks, when so many projects are pressing for more time, that I should pause, reflect, regroup, and then advance to victory.