Personal Weekly Review – 12 item list

If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you are doomed to repeat them.

As such, doing a regular review is important and talked about in plenty of life hacking / self-help books.

The thing is, I’ve had a weekly repeating Google Calendar entry about doing a weekly review for years, but it just said “Weekly Review”. When the reminder would notify me I would look at it, spend 10s thinking about the top of mind events that happened and then get on with the rest of my weekend.

I knew that wasn’t good enough and today, whilst sorting some old documents into a filing cabinet I found a review list I wrote back in April 2014 which I’ve just added to my calendar entry. Hopefully you and I will have better reviews and learnings based on these.

Do a personal review of the week and work out the tasks for the next week thinking about :


  1. Finances
  2. Health and Fitness
  3. Family and Friends
  4. Production vs Production Capacity
  5. Household tasks and general organisation
  6. Recent Short Term Wins
  7. Long Term Vision
  8. Important but not urgent tasks
  9. Learning and Education (what to direct my learning towards next)
  10. Teaching, Training, Writing and sharing my knowledge
  11. Willpower challenges and strength
  12. Food/Nutrition

Further Explanation

Finances used to just cover making sure I’d sent my invoices, that I’d paid my bills and ensured I knew when the next bills are. I would occasionally also do a financial snapshot, working out how much money was in my bank accounts, how much I’d spent and received since the last snapshot and what my estimated runway (weeks without money I can go for) is. But since reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad and also Money, Master the Game, I’m more interested in working out my assets and liabilities and how I can create a passive / portfolio based income stream that will allow me to get to financial thriving not just financial surviving.

Fitness is easily tracked in Runkeeper when I’m doing lots of runs, as I was in the lead up to the City to Bay, although I’m concentrating more on my stomach and core which is harder to track, except to remember how sore my muscles are from exercise, that’s a fairly good indicator to me that I’ve been doing well.

Point 4 about production vs production capacity is explained well in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. In this case I’m taking time to consider if I’ve balanced my time between the two. If you just focus on production (doing things) but not on production capacity (being able to do things better), you’ll get stuck in a rut.

Point 8 about Important but Not Urgent tasks is another one explained in the 7 habits and the fact that you need to focus on them, where as it’s easy to spend way too much time on the Not Important or Urgent and get worked up over the important and urgent.


Point 11 about Willpower challenges is talked about well in The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal but setting challenges is also done well with SuperBetter, the game and the book, by her awesome sister Jane McGonigal. I usually try having a weekly Willpower challenge, sometimes related to ensuring I’m exercising, sleeping well, working on the projects I want, or just ensuring I’ve meditated enough and aren’t getting easily distracted.

The Wealth of Nations but not of the world

So I recently started listening to the audiobook of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. It’s an epic 36 hour long audiobook. I’ve got the physical book as well and it’s also an epic tome.

But, within the intro chapter Adam Smith already makes some presuppositions or at least conclusions which irritate me.  For example he explains that the productivity of a nation is influenced by two main factors, the labour force and the environment. Particularly the quantity and quality of the labour force and the access to resources and the environment. Obviously making snow is much much harder in the Simpson desert then it is in Antarctica, yet he deems the ability of the labour force to be the primary factor in any discussion about productivity. There is a supposition there that the environment can be trumped by human (or animal and these days robotic) labour. This idea of being able to control and almost disregard the environment has had profound consequences on our civilisation. Naomi Klein explains in “This Changes Everything” just how dangerous this thinking has become, with sacrifice zones of nearly permanently destroyed environments and a large disregard for human well being. It has now lead to the climate change disaster we are all being affected by, even if some (including myself) have had a far greater hand in causing it.

Adam Smith talks a lot about how pin makers can make a lot more pins by having the 18 different steps of making a pin, such as drawing out the wire, straightening it, cutting, grinding, sharpening, adding the head, all done by different specialised people then those 18 people individually trying to do all the tasks and making their own pins instead of just focusing on a specific task. This specialisation is obviously what Henry Ford took to heart when harnessing the power of the assembly line.

But he then talks about how Agriculture can’t easily be as well specialised because of the seasonal variation of the work. You can’t employ someone in a permanent position to just be seeding or always be harvesting. Apparently because a farmer needs to be hoeing the ground, then laying seeds and later weeding, and at another time harvesting and can’t specialise in any specific task is the primary reason the agricultural industry hadn’t had the major leaps and bounds in productivity that areas like pin making or creating nails have. Of course, making pins or nails is mainly a task based around metal working, it’s not based on growing and fostering complex life. For someone how explains the ecosystem of materials flow and all the different professions which need to work together just for the shirt on your back to be created and get there, he hasn’t yet hinted at any limits to productivity. There’s no hint about a carrying capacity of the Earth.

Of course, I’m only an hour into it, so maybe he does mention it later, but for those lazy Capitalists who only looked at the first couple of chapters, I can see why they love his works. To me it feels more like he was excited about how new technologies and work techniques were able to create such a difference to productivity and were something he could work on and optimise. It’s not that the environment doesn’t matter, it’s that he couldn’t control it nearly as much, so it isn’t his focus. It’s a very unfortunate bias.


To Sell is Human – Dan Pink

One of the TED talks I have watched the most and basically require other people to watch is on The Surprising Science of Motivation. In the presentation Dan Pink talks about Intrinsic Motivation, something which as a programmer, film maker, entrepreneur and activist I am very deeply motivated by.

Dan Pink : To Sell Is Human (Book Cover)
Dan Pink : To Sell Is Human

In the TED talk Dan Pink basically explains the core premises behind his book Drive. I loved the book so much that I purchased multiple copies and gave them away as presents.

When Dan’s website showed he was going to release a new book I jumped on the pre-order.

Well the book, To Sell Is Human arrived yesterday and straight out of work I started reading it. Waiting for the bus, riding the bus, at home until I basically fell asleep.

I’ve only read 72 pages so far (out of 250), but I’m loving it.

Some points so far :

  • There are two types of selling. The normal sales type, of which 1 in 9 Americans are employed to do (a lot more than I expected). But there is also the non-sales selling. Things like a teacher convincing a student to study for the up-coming test, or an entrepreneur pitching their idea to potential co-founders. The thing is, pretty much everyone is doing non-sales selling. They are moving people. Getting them to change their ways or part with time, expend effort and do things which are the the mutual interests of both parties involved.
  • When most people thing about salesmen they think of the classic used car salesmen, Avon ladies, or insurance salesmen. Those situations, especially use car sales were fraught with information asymmetry. The seller knew if the car was a ‘lemon’… A dud that would break down and be very expensive to maintain, or if it was a peach. So the buyer had to beware. However these days it is the sellers that have to beware. With the Internet and sites like eBay, Amazon and the like it is easier for buyers to do research and know more about the product than the salesmen do and if they suspect any deception or problems they can buy it online.
  • The new ABCs of selling is no longer Always Be Closing. It is attunement, buoyancy and clarity.Attunement : Being in tune or harmony with the people, groups and contexts with which you are trying to move them.Buoyancy : The ability to bounce back from rejection and why believing in what you are selling is essential.

    Clarity : The capacity to make sense of murky situations. What matters more today isn’t problem solving but problem finding. Uncovering challenges that the other person may not know they have. In the world of information overload curation is also important.

My only real issue with the book so far is that Dan Pink spends so much time trying to convince the reader that selling is a big part of the modern world, something I already understood, that it has taken a while to get into the actual techniques .

I’m hoping that some of the techniques in the book will help me be both a better activist and also a better entrepreneur.  Hopefully in the future I will be better at explaining to people the ideas around the Price of Zero, a future where the necessities of life can be free to everyone on the planet. Food, water, electricity, education, entertainment, health and more, for free, to everyone. In case you are interested, I am working on the Education side :)

Have you read the book? If so what did you think?

NB : I am not affiliated with Dan Pink in any way, nor am I getting any money for this post. I just like his stuff.