As I start to wind down, reflect on 2020, and plan for 2021, I thought maybe my process will be helpful for you too. So here’s how I’m doing it. (This will also be my last piece for 2020.)
My personal and work to-do list has grown; using it as a place to “park” ideas and projects is probably a bad idea. Which items are no longer relevant? Which are worth pursuing? Now’s the time to prune the list so I can focus on what’s most important.
The same applies to the dozens of saved—but unread—articles on Instapaper. Do we really need to read all of them? I’ll give myself a time-box, probably 30 minutes, to archive them in the relevant folders.
Also, the recurring obligations and meetings (this probably applies more to work). Are we still needed in them? If not, opt-out so we have more uninterrupted time for deep work.
This is like clearing our cache—it makes way for more important ideas and work.
To reflect, here are questions I often ask myself; I also use some of them to get feedback:
The sole habit I tried to build in 2020 was writing more. The intent was to learn via writing, share my knowledge, and answer questions I frequently get. Along the way, I provided a way to get email updates (i.e., email list) and shared my writing on Twitter and LinkedIn. Some questions I have:
What else would you like to know? Tweet me or post in the comments below!
At the start of 2020, I joined Amazon as an Applied Scientist. It’s a great opportunity to build and ship machine learning systems to millions of customers worldwide. Lots of learning and growth. My team’s mission (helping users read more) also aligns with my values. Some questions to think about:
If you’re looking for more year-end reflection questions, here’s 50.
To plan for 2021, I adopt the Working Backwards approach. What do I want to be at the end of 2021? How would I have grown? What will I have achieved? How will life be different? One thing’s for sure—I want to build on my writing habit and continue thinking and learning in public to help others.
Specific to work, here’s my step-by-step:
And finally, here’s my favorite question that puts everything in perspective:
“If I’m told that I only have three years to live, what would I do differently?”
What’s your year-end ritual like? Tweet me or share in the comments below!
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