Remember this Year: Appreciating what Happened

This Friday, Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus. In Austria, where our offices are, Christmas time is also a time of peace and reflection. Soon, the year will end and a new year starts. The holidays between Christmas and New Year are a perfect moment to reflect about the last year, appreciate what happened, and plan for the next. Here are some tips how to look back, clean up, and make it a habit.


It's a good time for a New Year's Resolution. My one is:

I will use my time better, and I will appreciate my time.

Some things I can do:

  1. Use the holidays to look back and appreciate what happened during the year.
  2. Clean out the attic - make room for the new year.
  3. Send your friends a note: "This year, I experienced so much, and thank you for that moment when you helped me". It can be better than a Christmas present.
  4. Make it a habit: start appreciating what happens in your life.

Appreciating what happened

Next week, we are going to have a small end-of year party for Gnowsis. We will watch a movie, drink some beer, and talk. Its also a week of cleaning up, finishing things, and looking back.


Myself, I usually write a few diary entries to sum up what happened in the year. I have been doing this on paper through the years, but this year I also use Refinder to write down my diary notes. For me, I appreciate that we launched the Beta of Refinder. Its a good moment for us to look back who helped us a lot this year, who entered my life, and who moved on to other places.

The end of the year is a bit like a longer Sunday. Sundays have their roots in Shabbat: a time to reflect and rest. As the story goes, God was resting on Shabbat. On the seventh day he did nothing but appreciating his creation. Try to use the same spirit when looking back on what you did this year.

Cleaning your workplace, making room for the new year

At Gnowsis, we use the time to clean up our folders in our network share drive. That's the moment to look at those finished projects and move them over to the archive. We see what we have achieved this year and make room for new projects in the next year. Cleaning out the office is not only good to reflect the last year, it also helps to find the important things quicker. For example, keeping folders down to 21 items or less.

This is also a moment to optimize your workplace. At all productivity consultants will tell you: it takes some work to get productive, but it pays off.

Writing it up and sending it to friends

Once you have an overview what you have done this year, write it up and send it to friends, giving a short story what happened in your life this year. You are already sending those Christmas cards and holiday greetings, why not add a little note saying what happened in your life?

This is also a good moment to say thanks to people who helped you. Often saying thanks is worth more than giving a present.

Make it a Daily Habit: Appreciating What Happens in Life

During a typical workday, I have so many things to do that I don't remember what I did in the morning when I pack up to go home in the evening. But it helps to reflect each day - to get a feeling what went well and what not. I used to keep daily notes in a Moleskin book.

Now I started using my iPhone to browse my activities in Refinder on the subway ride home. There is a filter on the lower right where I can see only the things I used today and their relations. The good thing is: on the phone, I can't do much work, so its perfect to reflect my day on the subway. This helps me to remember what happened during the day, with whom I talked, and it also gives me a feeling of:

"whoa, I feel tired, but at least for a good reason - I did something useful today".

So now comes the New Year Resolution: I want to do this every day. Looking back and appreciating.

If you feel similar, start looking back. David Allen from "Getting Things Done" recommends to have a weekly review to look back over the past week and plan for the next week. He also recommends to plan for a year and for many years. That's why we decided to add buttons to Refinder to look back on the last seven days or on the last year, it helps us to reflect. Still, the software is far away from what we would like it to do.

Whatever you do to reflect upon this year, you will find something good. If this blog-posts inspired you to do something, blog it, tweet it, or comment below telling me what happened.