Oct 28, 2020 • 3M

Kaizen Newsletter #69 - Why I ditched my perfect weekly review system

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Alexander Hugh Sam
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Hey friend 👋,

Welcome to the 69th edition of the Kaizen Newsletter ⛩, a weekly newsletter where I share my thoughts, new ideas I learn and make weird connections between self-improvement, productivity, product, tech, sports, anime.

This week, I continue trying the audio newsletter format, and hopefully made it better than last time. Last week, I recorded at 3 AM, which is why my voice was so low. This week, I’m still recording pretty late, but hopefully, it’s a small improvement from last week. As always, let me know what you think!

(if you got referred to this page by a friend or are simply visiting you can subscribe here👇)

During the last few months, I took the time to perfect my weekly review.

It combined Tiago Forte's quick one-touch weekly review and Nat Eliason's sturdy weekly planner (from his Roam course) that would allow me to simultaneously achieve inbox-zero every week and know exactly what needs to be done for the following week once the process was completed.

The first time I went through it, I was ecstatic! I felt like Dr. Frankenstein seeing his beautiful creation coming alive for the first time.


But shortly after, Dr. Frankenstein realizes that this beautiful creation of his is in fact a monster.

After a few weeks had passed, I also had a similar realization.

On most weeks, I would just skip my weekly review. I would use excuses like "I have to work on my newsletter" or "I have to finish something for work" or "Maybe I can just push it to tomorrow".

I know that setting aside a few hours every week to look back at what you've done (or haven't done) is important because it allows knowing if you are going in the right direction. And if not, you have time to course-correct.

To me, a weekly review is to your life like google maps is to you when driving to an unknown place. You can drive as fast and as smooth as you want, but if you're not watching the app, then you'll have no idea if you're going in the right direction.

So if I know that a weekly review is so important to do, then why did I not force myself to sit down and go through it every week?

And that's when I remembered James Clear's first strategy on how to build a new habit: "Start with an incredibly small habit."

I realized that the biggest issue with my weekly review is that it felt too intimidating. Whenever I would think of my weekly review, I just imagined me taking so much time to go through it and pictured it as not something very fun to do. The weekly review started as something pleasant that I was looking forward to every week to... almost literally looking at it as if it were a monster.

At first, I tried pushing myself to do it, but you can only rely on motivation for so long.

Good thing that at the same time, my friend James (no, not Clear), from my writing fellowship, introduced me to his weekly review.


And luckily it was super simple. It wasn't "perfect" as my initial one, but it got the job done. This is the type of weekly review that is light and pleasant to do while sipping coffee on a Sunday afternoon.

Using this format, you only need to write about what went right, what went wrong and what's next. All of that in bullet-points (although I prefer writing sentences).

So far, I've done it for two weeks straight without skipping and it takes me around 30 min to finish (sometimes a bit longer if I have a lot to write).

This reminded me why it's important to use practice as the bar for truth. No matter how perfect the system seems to be (in theory) if you're not using it all, then it's pretty much useless.

Now, on to the newsletter.

🤔 Thoughts

🎻 Thoughts on Symphony of Ideas

In Kanye's recent podcast with Joe Rogan, he described his thoughts as a "symphony of ideas" and I thought it was a very interesting way to visualize it.

So when I'm talking, I have to describe a thought in five ways. You know, we enjoy food that has multiple seasonings in it. We enjoy music that has multiple instruments. So when I talk, it's not a rant, it's a symphony of ideas. - Kanye

I enjoy the idea of thinking about thoughts being deconstructed into different layers and as long as you have the overall context of how this thought was formed, you would also be able to understand someone elses thought fully.

However, what happens is that social media forces you to compresses these thoughts into just one layer. Meaning that it becomes easy for others to misconstrue what you are actually saying.

That’s why it’s important that we make a more deliberate effort when receiving these thoughts and ideas. We should try and decompress these thoughts and make sure we understand the different layers behind them before we try and cancel someone because what they said is “wrong”.

💻 Thoughts on Sharing Online


This is just another example of how powerful it is to share insights, conversations and ideas on the internet.

To give a bit of context, around a month ago, I was eating with my friend and he was telling me how his girlfriend wanted to start writing, but she felt it was egotistical to think that anybody would read her writing. To which I snarkily replied, "It's egotistical to think that you're the only person going through this and that it wouldn't help anyone else."

I'm not gonna lie, it happens very rarely that I have nice retorts when someone says something to me (usually I'd think about a smart reply 2h after the fact) and decided to tweet it out for fun and it actually performed pretty well!

But what really surprised me, was that exactly one month later, someone replies to this tweet saying that they wrote an entire essay based on my tweet that I sent out.

What's ironic is that this essay proves how valuable it is to share your thoughts online. You literally never know who it can inspire or help.

🐦 Tweets

Not sure if I agree with the "delete emails without responding" but agree with all the rest.

Will try to be mindful of this next time I'm in an interaction. What do you do is such a boring question anyways!

This is a really good TikTok about adulthood.

🙏 Shoutout

Shoutout to Nick deWilde from my fellowship who helped me a lot on what my next steps I should be thinking about for my newsletter.

Also shoutout to Dan and Jerry also from the fellowship who I had super cool conversations with last week!

👋 End Note

If you want to know what I'm up to now, you can check it on my website here.

If you enjoyed the Kaizen Newsletter, then it'd be cool if you can share it with your friends.

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