What is a retrospective? Why am I talking about it?

Life Design Retrospective

Retrospectives are an exercise used by teams to reflect on the work produced during a sprint. I took my life to the next level recently, and, in doing so, I used a similar approach as I would for a design sprint. The goal? To setup a system of continuous improvement. The competitor? The version of myself from the previous week. Here’s the previous week (beginning Monday, January 28th).
five day sprint Jan 28

I remembered to ask myself through each day, “How is what I am doing right now bringing me closer to my goals?”

I do planning on Saturdays. Here is the five day sprint outline for this coming week (beginning Monday, February 4th).
five day sprint february 4
As you can see, it is much cleaner. I discovered what works and doesn’t work from the previous week. I am finding that by investing a solid 1-2 hours on a Saturday morning planning my week’s calendar it solidifies my intentions for the week. Drawing the lines, coloring in the sections, handwriting the tasks, these activities force me to confront the work that needs to be done. I look at this paper every morning, afternoon, and night.

I’ve included a blank template for you to download and try for your own five day sprint, here.

Reflecting back on this week’s calendar, I felt satisfied. There are a few elements for which I discovered improvements, and others I will remove from my process. Started the week by making the commitment to myself that I would stay on course and complete the tasks I built into my plan. Regardless of what I thought during the week- during the mornings – during the work – I pushed through so I would have this opportunity after the week’s end to think about how to improve my process. Otherwise, not much gets accomplished because of the “stop and go” associated with self-doubt and second guessing my gut. The first days were challenging to complete the work I outlined. I am not used to immersing into project without taking Adderall. I had taken it quite regularly for the last decade. To come off it now was, at first, frightening. Would I get anything accomplished without the artificial drive of meth-amphetamines for 10-20 hours at a time?

Well, to my surprise, I did.

I am currently working 2-4 hours in the morning (5am/6am to 8am/9am). I can say with confidence that I am getting more accomplished, the integrity and quality of my work is higher, and my quality of life is accelerating beyond levels I can recall experiencing.

I am thriving off a routine that I can sustain for the long haul. This seems to be evolving into a competitive advantage.

While on Adderall, I would work until absolute exhaustion, sleep most of the next few days, and then go back at it again. I wouldn’t call this burnout, necessarily. It was simply a life without structure. It was a life without discipline. It was a life without a steady, sustainable routine. It was a life without deep, strategic direction.

I now sleep every night. I was a laggard to this concept. Definitely not an early adopter of sleep. Thankfully, I seemed to have made it to the other side of the bell curve. I am grateful for this discovery.

It was challenging to fall asleep, at first. Once I stopped watching TV in my bed it became easier to fall asleep as my head hits the pillow.

It has been a slow, gradual process of improvement. I didn’t all of sudden wake up with the ideal routine, getting the ideal amount of work done, and solving life’s problems with the snap of a finger.

The first few days I was waking up close to noon because I wasn’t falling asleep until 5am.

I would lay in bed at 10pm and roll around watching Netflix until I was too tired to stay awake. This wasn’t helpful. However, I was able to rear this behavior one day at a time. One morning, I woke up at noon. The second morning I made sure to get out of bed by 11am. The third, out of bed by 10am. 9am. 8am. 7am.

I currently set my alarm clock for 5am, seven days a week. However, I wake up naturally at 4-4:30am. It feels nice to walk out the door as my 5am wake up alarm goes off. I laugh at it.

No alarm clock needed.

I am typically sleeping by 10pm, unless I have an on-site with a client or am attending events in the area.

I take four buses to get to the gym and back between 5-6 times per week. I enjoy every minute of it. As my stamina increases, I am finding that I want back some of the time from the commute for other purposes. I am currently working on a new plan to accomplish my fitness goals without needing to use 2-4 hours a day on the commute. I will update you on that progress.

I have a playlist of 100+ YouTube videos I listen to each morning when I wake up, cook breakfast, shower, and head out the door.


Listening to motivational tapes in the AM seem to help set the tone for the day. It installs positive self-talk into my daily mindset. I wake up healthy and go to sleep satisfied.

Feels like I am making all the right moves, but I won’t rest on my laurels – I won’t get too comfortable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *