Working without a weekly review is a recipe for overwhelm, procrastination, and focusing on the priorities of others rather than your own. It is an essential component of any excellent time management or productivity solution.
After all, how can you know where you are going if you don’t occasionally pause and glance up?
The notion of a weekly review was advocated by author David Allen in his classic productivity book, Getting Things Done (GTD). It entails talking over everything you accomplished, how your week went, and what you will focus on next. It also only takes approximately 30 minutes to finish.
What Is Getting Things Done?
David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a well-known productivity approach. GTD allows anybody to become more creative and productive.
Your mind’s purpose is to generate ideas, not to store them.David Allen
Get Things Done in a nutshell
- Break down large projects into smaller pieces
- Keep track of these tasks in a list or a trusted system.
- Clearly define the task, the expected result.
- Every day, complete the things on your to-do list.
- Weekly, review your progress and your broad areas of concentration
How do I do GTD weekly reviews?
The Weekly Review is a critical element of GTD. Consider it is zooming out from your working week, daily tasks, and other projects to see the larger picture. It’s an opportunity to examine if you’re moving toward the desired more comprehensive results. It’s also an excellent method to check in with yourself.
Get current on all open things on your to-do lists, calendar, notes, and other aspects of your business during a weekly review. With this information, you may assess your effectiveness and create targets or goals for the coming week.
GTD practitioners frequently use unique terms to describe various aspects of their personal or professional life that they examine. As an example:
- Waiting for refers to objects for which you are awaiting information or a decision from another person. Consider whether you should follow up at your Weekly Review.
- Tasks on your to-do list are referred to as next actions. Identify the next step and plan for what you will need for the upcoming week at a weekly review.
- The term agenda refers to a list of topics to address with team members or your organization the next time you encounter them. These are constantly updated.
- Project: anything which needs more than one action to achieve.
How long does a weekly review take?
Spend 30 minutes once a week, assessing what you worked on and how long you worked on it. To prepare, make this review time a recurrent appointment in your calendar and commit to maintaining it. Friday afternoons and Sunday evenings are good since these are calmer times of the week for people who work Monday through Friday.
You must work or concentrate in a peaceful environment for at least 30 minutes without interruption. Ideally, you will have your objectives, notes, and other documentation with you. You should be able to access your task manager, calendar, and other inboxes or containers as well.
Weekly Review in 5 steps
Step One: Email
However, starting with email poses a big problem that virtually everyone falls victim to, which is getting caught into the vortex of reacting to and acting on emails. Follow this rule and learn to determine what has to be done about each email rather than doing it. You will be able to get through hundreds of emails in minutes. It is worth noting that by cleaning our email inbox first, certain items “flow” into the inboxes we will be checking next.
Step Two: Agenda
I begin this step by checking my calendar one week in the past for any follow-up tasks I need to perform. E.g.
- Following up on a decision we made as a team.
- Putting down a task that someone else is depending on me for
- Sending a thank you email to someone I met with
Next, I look at my schedule for the next four weeks to understand what is coming up. This frequently brings to mind upcoming activities or meetings that I need to prepare for, crucial occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries, or looming decisions that I need to start thinking about.
Step Three: Desktop/Downloads
I quickly glance at each file, delete it, add it to my computer file system or digital notes program, or capture it in my task manager using the quick capture shortcut.
Step Four: Take Notes
You may also come across additional notes you’ve saved from other sources throughout the week, such as articles you’ve read or strange thoughts you’ve had. This stage serves as a handy “review” of the important notes I’ve taken during the week that I may wish to refer back to. You may now file all of your notes at once by gathering them in a single, unified notes app.
“Most people are most satisfied with their jobs in the week preceding their holiday, but this is not due to the vacation itself.” What do you do in the final week before a large trip? All of your agreements with yourself and others are cleaned up, closed up, clarified, and renegotiated. I just recommend that you do this on a weekly rather than an annual basis.”David Allen
Step 5: Tasks
All four of the inboxes I’ve purged so far contribute to what I’m looking for in the end: a concise yet complete list of actions that I know reflect essential objectives for just this week. I like to complete all of these activities at once, deciding for each one:
- What is the next step: ensure that the job is as straightforward as possible
- What is the priority: See Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix
- Which project or area it belongs to: assign it to the most actionable project or area of responsibility.
Once I’ve finished reviewing my email, it’s time to decide which projects I’ll genuinely commit to this week. The idea is to be as discriminating as possible, using the “high priority” label only if it absolutely needs to be done this week. Otherwise, I risk making a list that doesn’t seem doable.
If your weekly review takes longer than 30 minutes, it’s most likely because you’re working on a job or project rather than reviewing it. When you’ve decided what to do next, you may relax for the weekend, knowing that you’ll be able to start fresh the following week.
Three Simple Questions
According to David Allen’s bestselling book, an excellent weekly review results in three outcomes:
- Clear your mind, i.e., do you know what you need to accomplish next with specific actions?
- Bring your system up to date, i.e., are your task management, calendar, and project files up to date?
- Complete, i.e., did you go through all of your inboxes?
Don’t worry if you didn’t get everything right. It may take a few rounds of weekly reviews to truly appreciate the approach. A weekly evaluation should be tailored to your work style.
A Weekly Review is not a complete “life assessment” that will need hours of deep contemplation. Your Weekly Review should be a fast check-in that provides you with clarity for the following week. Your Weekly Review should do three things in particular:
- Clean up your digital workspaces: clean up the virtual area where you work.
- Update your available tasks: revise your to-do list in light of fresh information.
- Decide on your week’s priorities: Choose a subset of to-dos for this week that you are actively committed to.
The Weekly Review is nothing more than preventative maintenance for your intellect. It’s a weekly standing meeting with oneself, with one goal in mind: to restore order and clarity. It is the one moment when you can analyse all of your possible obligations on equal footing and make judgments about what remains and what leaves. David Gousset.
You want to improve your productivity, better fix your priorities, work with Inbox Zero and reduce your stress, please check davidgousset.com.