As a coach, I come across a lot of different methods and ideas for dealing with certain things that don’t necessarily come out of a psychology textbook. Some of my best and most favourite learnings have been from my own clients. I have also been lucky enough to work with some other phenomenal coaches and mentors over the years who have also added to my “toolkit” of coaching methods. Retreat, review, react is one of those great examples.

So how does retreat, review, react work and what does it relate to?

In this day and age, we are all now used to instant communication. Emails are constantly popping up demanding our attention. Social media asks us to interact on a minute-by-minute basis. This constant need for instant reaction has made many of us feel that have to reply straight away, or if not instantly, certainly in the not-too-distant future (and by that, I mean in the next hour or so!)

How many of us really read the emails that land in our inbox and ask ourselves: “Does this need a response right now, or can I get back to it?” I suspect many of us think that if we reply now, it’s another thing off the dreaded ‘to do’ list or we think we won’t remember if we leave it until later.

It’s not just emails that this affects. On a personal level, the diary starts to fill up and we begin to feel overwhelmed by the number of commitments we have signed up for. The phone goes, (it’s never usually that far from our person) someone asks if we fancy doing something on a certain date and before we know it, so as not to sound mean or ungrateful, we’ve agreed without really checking our diary. It’s often just easier to say yes and worry about it later.

This is where retreat, review and react comes into play. Let’s think about the phone call scenario. The phone rings, your friend suggests coffee on Saturday and you are torn. You’d love to see your friend, but you also know you must do a food shop, pick the kids up from a play date or maybe you have signed up and paid for a yoga class that you really “should’ go to? You don’t want to sound ungrateful or mean but suddenly that sense of overwhelm engulfs you and you quickly say “great, what time?” knowing that you’ll spend the next few days worrying about how you’re going to fit it all in.

What if you were to say, “that sounds really lovely – I need to check my diary and then I’ll give you a call back?” This is the RETREAT part. You give yourself time to check the diary, check you are not over committing and check that it won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed.

You then REVIEW. Check your diary and depending on other commitments you REACT by calling back your friend either with a yes or a no and a suggestion of another date.

By taking the time to retreat, review and then react it will leave you feeling a lot less overwhelmed, a lot less guilty for over committing and then putting yourself in the position of having to cancel and both parties get a much better result.

You can apply this to so many things. I personally use it as a mantra when I’m really busy to focus my mind on what I can actually manage to do. By stepping back and giving myself the time (retreating) to actually decide whether my action serves me well at that point in time (review) before making my decision and acting accordingly (react), my life has become a lot calmer and there are far fewer situations where I find myself feeling overwhelmed.

Give it a go, see how it could impact your life? If you need to, leave little post it notes around just to remind you to take a breath and retreat. I think you’ll be amazed at the results.