When you end something (a meeting, a day at the office, a week-long off-site retreat, attending a conference) there is incredible value to pressing the “pause” button and reflecting on how everything went along the way.

Today’s list is something I’ve used for a long time know to gain perspective, manage my time and practice workplace performance techniques that will make it easier to get things done the next time I do them. Right before you review this list, do bring to mind something you have finished lately. If possible, write it down on the top off a page in your notebook, or in a new document on your computer. Then, for each prompt below, consider writing a few words to a few lines. Gain perspective, gain knowledge and gain clarity.

Timeline:

Roster:

Checklists:

Risk Assessment:

Budget:

Results:

Client Feedback/Manager Feedback:

Reusable Assets:

Follow Up Opportunities:

The cliche, of course, is “Hindsight is 20/20.” And, with Projects as well as most everything else, it’s generally true. After you have pressed send, or a courier has taken the package away, it is time to debrief. Here are some things to get you thinking about how well it went, what you know now, and what you might do in the future to make the best better.

Timeline: Did you get things done “on time” or “in time”? This is a great question to ask, as it really makes you stop and address the timing of the project/event/situation. Some of the people we work with even print out a “fresh” calendar and rewrite the project milestones as they now think they could/should have met deadlines.

Roster: Who was on the team that we didn’t need. Who should have have tapped in to? Next time, what person (or group) do we want to get involved in the project sooner? These are the kinds of questions to ask as you move from where you are, to where you want to be. Ask yourself if you’re ever going to do this kind of project again. If so, keep a special section of your planning system and write down that list of people, including any pertinent information you might need next time.

Checklists: I absolutely loved the book by Atul Gawande called, “The Checklist Manifesto.” I think it makes the case for us writing (more) things down. I know for me it helps (whether I every look at the list again or not!) to write down the checklists for all kinds of things from what to bring to work on a seminar morning, to things I need for a triathlon I’m racing.

Risk Assessment: My favorite question here: did we take enough risks? Try it out on the project you just completed. Understand this: a “little” risk is a BIG risk if you didn’t try it before!

Budget: Spending too much (or too little) is one way to end a project feeling that you didn’t manage it well. I like to take my multi-step, multi-week, multi-department projects and stop every week or so and look at a “subjective/objective” budget. Subjective ’cause it’s always a bit off when we look at it at that quick an interval; objective because we’re looking at it.

Results: Bottom line is always: Did we do what we said we would do, in the time we promised?

Client Feedback/Manager Feedback: Back to the idea of checklists, I often will share the checklist in some kind of survey form asking the client/manager if we did what they wanted. Writing the next book, I’ve got a series of “check in points” with my two editors as I want to make sure that the sentences, paragraphs and chapters all go in the right direction!

Reusable Assets: What did we do, that we can do or use again? You could imagine that blogging is really about taking something I saw, said or heard and serving that up in a new way, a consumable way, a way that you can use!

Follow Up Opportunities: And, here’s where it get’s really interesting…Is the project we just finished something we can share with others, brag about, or put up in the public eye?

There are just a few things you can do to reflect more clearly on the goals and objectives you’re marching toward. I’m sure there’s something YOU do at the end of projects. What is it?