The Power of Summaries

You’ll learn how good summaries can be a game-changer in this lesson.

In the same way that you can ask questions to get an insight into your manager’s world, there’s also a way that can open up yours to your manager while also helping you pause, reflect, and plan. This technique is a regular written summary. Every week, take thirty minutes to jot down the main activities that you and your team have been involved in, how you feel about them, and what decisions you’ve taken or need to take. Write down how your staff get on and how they feel about their work. Is anything becoming a blocker? Do you see trouble ahead? Is everything actually going really well? Note it down.

The simple act of taking time for yourself every week to summarize how things are can be extremely therapeutic. It can help you abstract away from the problems you are facing and work them through on paper. Often, you’ll find that they’re not so important or challenging once you’ve spent some time with them. Studies have shown that journaling can have a positive effect on mood and well-being. I’ve found the same to be true about weekly journaling at work.

Four Ps for writing summaries

If you struggle with what to write in summaries, perhaps you could try the four Ps approach:

  • Progress: What has happened since the last time you wrote?

  • Problems: What issues have occurred and what needs addressing?

  • Plans: How are you going to approach those issues going forward?

  • People: How are the individuals on the team? Are they doing well or are they having a hard time? What could be improved?

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