I recently read Greg McKeown‘s excellent book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Lots of good ideas in the book, but the one that has stuck with me is the “quarterly personal offsite meeting.” I’ve also heard this idea mentioned in other blog posts and podcasts.

Count me in.

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For many people, the only chance to reflect on work is the “annual review,” the quality of which varies wildly from company to company. Many experts believe that annual reviews aren’t all that helpful.

Some get annual “career development meetings” or similar meeting that might run a half hour to an hour. Maybe.

But how often do we really make any significant and dedicated time to reflect on what we have accomplished, what we’ve done well, what we can improved and where, upon reflection, we might want to be going?

Enter the quarterly personal offsite meeting.

Can you set aside some time for yourself, away from office and home, to focus on where you’ve been and where you are going on a regular basis?

Here’s McKeown’s description of it, from an oft-cited HBR post:

1. Schedule a personal quarterly offsite. Companies invest in quarterly offsite meetings because there is value in rising above day-to-day operations to ask more strategic questions. Similarly, if we want to avoid being tripped up by the trivial, we need to take time once a quarter to think about what is essential and what is nonessential. I have found it helpful to apply the “rule of three”: every three months you take three hours to identify the three things you want to accomplish over the next three months.

It seems like a good thing to try. Of course, since it’s a personal offsite, I plan to put my own spin on the idea.

I really like good conferences, offsite and retreats. In fairness, I do hate bad ones. Some of my favorite professional experiences have been events of this nature like the original LexThink and BlawgThink conferences.

I’m starting to plan my personal offsite meeting. I see it more in the nature of a retreat than a wild brainstorming or innovation event. Quiet room, nice view, those big post-it notes on the wall I can write on with sharpies, maybe some ideation or creativity exercises, mind maps, trying something like business model canvas – some of the things I keep meaning to try but never quite find the time for. Step away from the internet. Summer seems like the right time.

I’m curious whether anyone else has tried this and has some suggestions and recommendations for things to try, topics to consider or practical suggestions about places. You can leave a comment about it on this post or email me. I’m leaning toward doing something close enough nearby that gets me out of the house but where I don’t stay overnight.

Depending on how it goes, I’ll try to share some of my reflections on this in a few weeks on this blog.

I welcome your comments and ideas.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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  • Stephen Embry

    I have often thought about doing this but never have. In lieu of this though I try to take at least an hour every day to try to come up with at least 5 new ideas. Sometimes I don’t make it, sometimes the ideas are a little foolish but every now and then I get some fresh insight. Plus it makes me start the day thinking creatively.