Prep-Do-Review, a time management Dot Loop for managers

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Great bosses have discovered the right approach. They don’t focus merely on managing their time better. They don’t think about their work as comprising two different parts — handling unexpected, daily problems versus doing what they should do as bosses. They don’t try to do their daily work and also the work of management. Instead, they use the chaos — unplanned events, crises, obligations — to do managerial work. To do this, they use an approach we call “Prep-Do-Review” in every activity they undertake.

  • Prep: Before you do anything, prepare. Ask yourself questions like these: What am I going to do? Why — what’s my goal or purpose? How will I do it? Who else will be involved or affected?
  • Do: Do what you prepared to do.
  • Review: When you’re done, think about what you did and what happened. What did you learn? How would you do it differently next time? (Don’t assume the right lesson is obvious; it often is not.)

Linda A. Hill, Harvard Business School (2011) Better Time Management Is Not the Answer

As you can see, the sequence Prep, Do, Review is strikingly similar to the Dot Loop: Prep is the Think phase, Do is the… Do phase, and Review is the Observe phase.

It’s worth noting that the Dot loop doesn’t always start with “Do”, you can start it at any point, because it’s always a chicken and egg problem defining where you should start. “Should I do something before thinking?” no, of course. “Should I think before observing?” no, either. “Should I observe before me or someone else does something?” no, again. So it’s just a matter of the accent you want to have in the model you are thinking of. I choose “Do” to create a nice “Dot” word, but that’s just coincidence.