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Life review

Type of reviews

Trimester review

The objectives of the trimester review are:

  • Review the previous trimester tactics
  • Identify the areas to focus on for the trimester
  • Identify the tactics you want to use on those areas.

The objectives are not:

  • To review what you've done or why you didn't get there.

When to do the trimester reviews

As with month reviews, it's interesting to do analysis at representative moments. It gives it an emotional weight. You can for example use the solstices or my personal version of the solstices:

  • Spring analysis (1st of March): For me the spring is the real start of the year, it's when life explodes after the stillness of the winter. The sun starts to set later enough so that you have light in the afternoons, the climate gets warmer thus inviting you to be more outside, the nature is blooming new leaves and flowers. It is then a moment to build new projects and set the current year on track.

  • Summer analysis (1st of June): I hate heat, so summer is a moment of retreat. Everyone temporarily stop their lives, we go on holidays and all social projects slow their pace. Even the news have even less interesting things to report. It's so hot outside that some of us seek the cold refuge of home or remote holiday places. Days are long and people love to hang out till late, so usually you wake up later, thus having less time to actually do stuff. Even in the moments when you are alone the heat drains your energy to be productive. It is then a moment to relax and gather forces for the next trimester. It's also perfect to develop easy and chill personal projects that have been forgotten in a drawer. Lower your expectations and just flow with what your body asks you.

  • Autumn analysis (1st of September): September it's another key moment for many people. We have it hardcoded in our life since we were children as it was the start of school. People feel energized after the summer holidays and are eager to get back to their lives and stopped projects. You're already 6 months into the year, so it's a good moment to review your year plan and decide how you want to invest your energy reserves.

  • Winter analysis (1st of December): December is the cue that the year is coming to an end. The days grow shorter and colder, they basically invite you to enjoy a cup of tea under a blanket. It is then a good time to get into your cave and do an introspection analysis on the whole year and prepare the ground for the coming year. Some of the goals of this season are:

  • Think everything you need to guarantee a good, solid and powerful spring start.
  • Do the year review to adjust your principles.

The year is then divided in two sets of an expansion trimester and a retreat one. We can use this information to adjust our life plan accordingly. In the expansion trimester we could invest more energies in the planning, and in the retreat ones we can do more throughout reviews.

Trimester review tools

With a new level of abstraction we need tools:

Trimester review phases

We'll divide the review process in these phases:

  • Prepare
  • Discover
  • Analyze
  • Decide

Trimester prepare

The trimester review requires an analysis that doesn't fill in a day session. It requires slow thinking over some time. So I'm creating a task 10 days before the actual review to start thinking about the next trimester. Whether it's ideas, plans, desires, objectives, or principles.

Is useful for that document to be available wherever you go, so that in any spare time you can pop it up and continue with the train of thought.

Doing the reflection without seeing your life path prevents you from being tainted by it, thus representing the real you of right now.

On the day to actually do the review, follow the steps of the Month review prepare adjusting them to the trimester case.

Trimester discover

If you've followed the prepare steps, you've already been making up your mind on what do you want the next trimester to look like. Now it's the time to refine those thoughts.

Define the areas' objectives

I've had a hard time choosing how must those objectives be defined. Should they be generic? or would it be better for them to be concrete and measurable?

Given the mindset of this review, it's better to have generic open goals. As you climb up the abstraction ladder and work with greater time slots you need to reduce the precision because you have more uncertainty. You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow so adding hard SMART goals is unrealistic and a certain path to frustration.

They should be guidelines that help you define the direction of where do you want to go and leave to the lower abstraction level reviews particularize those principles into more specific goals.

  • Create a new review document with the next structure:

* Area objectives
** Area 1
- Put a timer of 20 mins and for each of the areas answer the next questions (remember to make it general and not project dependent): - What differences will the area have in three months?

  • Complete your gathered results by:
  • Reading the current area document objectives
  • Gather more objectives through skimming through the projects of the areas
  • Your gathered notes in
Review the previous trimester area tactics
  • Review what are you doing in the area
  • Review what you should be doing

Trimester analyze

Choose the trimester area tactics

Trimester decide

Order, prioritize and choose the area objectives

Gather them in the roadmap document.

Semester reviews

The objectives of the trimester review are:

  • Review the previous semester plan
  • Identify the goals/visions/principles to focus on for the semester
  • Identify the strategy you want to follow on those goals/visions/principles.
  • Identify the philosophical topics of your life to address

Year review

Year reviews are meant to give you an idea of:

  • How much have you and your workflows evolved
  • What roadmap decisions were right, which ones were wrong
  • With the context you have now, you can think of how you could have avoided the bad decisions.

If you have the year's planning you can analyze it against your task management tools and life logs and create a review document analyzing all.

The process then has many phases:


As they are time expensive, probably lot of time may have passed since your last life review, it's a good time to do some housekeeping tasks to have a tidy environment (and data!) before you start analyzing everything.

  • Extract all your media (photos, videos, text) from all your devices (mobiles, laptops, servers) to your central archive. For the portable devices I use syncthing to sync all the important data to the NAS, although it's usually untidy.
  • Once it's extracted tidy them all. For example you could group the pictures and videos in a tree of directories (trips, trips/2022-06-Glasgow, trips/2022-06-Glasgow/2022-06-10-hiking-trail-lakes, ...). As this is an unpleasant task I've created claspy a command line tool that helps you categorize the files into their desired paths. Do the same for the documents, music, binaries... everything! until you have an empty mobile and empty Downloads directory.
  • Update your ledger so that it reflects the reality.
  • Update your task manager systems so that it reflects the latest state.
  • Update your digital garden so that you don't have any uncommited changes.


To do it I gather all the information from my life logging sources and start thinking of what do I want to change. It helps me to write a markdown document with the insights gathered in this process.

What you have learned

It's always interesting to look back and see what you've learned throughout the year. I have these sources of data:

Digital garden

If you happen to have a digital garden you can look at your git history to know what has changed since the last year. That's cumbersome and ugly though, it's better to review your newsletters, although you may need to use something like mkdocs-newsletter.

While you skim through the newsletters you can add to the analysis report the highlights of what you've learned.

You can also check your repository insights.


I use anki to record the knowledge that I need to have in my mind. The program has a "Stats" tab where you can see your insights of the last years to understand how are you learning. You can also go to the "Browse" tab to sort the cards by created and get an idea of which ones have been the most used decks.

What you've read

Each time I finish a book I register it in a document with a rating and optionally a review. When doing the review I check which ones I read, which ones I liked more, what genres have been the most popular for me, which authors. With these data I create an analysis of what seems promising to read in the future.

I also update the section of "what you've learnt" with the insights of these books.

Task review

Follow the review process of the task management article.


What to read

With the analysis of what I've read I research for new books and create an ordered list per genre.