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How to Do a Personal Mid-Year Review

How to Do a Personal Mid-Year Review

Mid-year reviews are a common feature in workplaces around the world. Useful for evaluating and reflecting upon what’s happened over the last six months, and what they want to happen over the next six months, mid-year reviews give companies the chance to make adjustments to their actions that will keep them in line with their business goals.

In this post, we’re going to look at how you can take this concept and apply it to your personal life. Doing a personal mid-year review can help us stay conscious of our life balance. It also helps keep us on track with any personal goals or projects we want to focus on between now and the end of the year.

Looking Back

1. Make a list of everything that you feel proud of over the past six months.

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Start by thinking about your experience of the last six months. Notice that this step doesn’t just involve results or things you’ve achieved, but focuses on how you feel about what you’ve done over the last half-year.

The things that you feel proud of can be of any nature or significance. Feeling proud of bringing in a big project for your company might sit on this list, alongside feeling proud of the fact that you’ve made it to the gym at least twice per week, or feeling proud of the fact that you’ve paid all your bills on time since the beginning of the year.

2. Make a list of any new goals or challenges you’ve taken on over the past six months, as well as how much progress you’ve made on each.

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Many of us start the year with New Year’s Resolutions. You might find that these goals have changed over the past six months, or that the parameters have shifted. If a particular goal isn’t serving you and your long-term plans anymore (note: this is not the same as finding something challenging), this is a great time to make adjustments where necessary.

As well as looking at your goals individually, take a look at your personal life as a whole: are you feeling over-committed right now? Would you like to have more variety in your personal life?

Asking yourself questions like this now can help prevent you feeling overwhelmed or like you haven’t made the most of your year in six months’ time.

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Looking Ahead

3. Identify two areas of your life you would like to focus on over the next six months.

Our lives can be broadly divided up into the following areas: family, leisure/fun, career, finance, relationships, health and fitness, physical environment, and personal development.

Go through each area and think about how satisfied you feel with this aspect of your life right now (it can be helpful to think about your satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10).

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Once you’ve identified the two areas of your life you most want to focus on (usually these will be the two areas with the lowest satisfaction scores, but not always), write down three things you can do to bring your score in these areas closer to a 10/10.

4. Pick a word or phrase that will sum up your next six months.

This step might sound a little mystical, but it’s another way of helping you stay grounded between now and the end of the year.

Having a word or phrase that encapsulates how you’d like to experience your next six months helps remind you of the goals and intentions you’re setting now. As you might have experienced with goals you set at the beginning of the year, we can start off with the best intentions to honour those goals, only to have commitments and distractions throw us off course. Having a word or phrase that sums up how we want to experience the next six months helps keep us aligned with our original intentions and reduces the chance that we’ll get to the end of the year and regret how we spent our time.

Do you have any tips for a successful mid-year personal review? Leave a comment and let us know.

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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