The Weekly Review

Schedule a non-negotiable time each week for a “Weekly Review.”  The Weekly Review is the single most important thing to do in order to keep up a successful GTD practice.  I cannot emphasize how important the Weekly Review is to ongoing success in reducing stress.

Life moves fast – we often have so much to do that’s it’s difficult to take a step back and examine whether or not we’re getting the results we want.  That’s why it’s extremely important to schedule some time each week to do a “Weekly Review.”   I schedule my Weekly Reviews first thing Monday mornings so I will have a good roadmap for the week.  The actual time or day of the week does not matter – some people like to do their Weekly Reviews on Friday’s to wrap up the week.  The critical thing is that you schedule it and ensure that it happens. This is the most critical part of keeping GTD on track.

Here are a few things you should include in your weekly review:

Review your Goals & Objectives – Are you moving in the right direction? Are you making progress? Are any changes necessary?  This is where you take a quick review of the big picture.  What personal and professional goals do you have?

Review your Areas of Focus – Are you devoting sufficient time and energy to the true priorities in your life?  Areas of Focus are the areas of responsibility in your life that are never “done.”  If you can complete it and check it off as complete then it is not an Area of Focus, it is most likely a Project.  Areas of Focus might be ongoing responsibilities at your work like Employee Development, Budget, Vision & Strategy, etc.  Other Areas of Focus might be health and fitness, finances, family, home improvement, etc.

Review your calendar – start with a month view and look at the upcoming things on your calendar.  Then switch to week view and look at the next few weeks to see what is coming up.  This gives you context for what is ahead.

Review your active projects – Break down each project into the actions necessary to be “done” with the project.  Then take the “next action” you need to take to drive towards completion of the overall project and make it its own task and assign it to the “next action category.”  When describing the next action in the task subject field use specific action verbs to describe the action that needs to be “done.”  Include as much information as possible to help you complete the next action.  Instead of “donate old furniture” use “call Goodwill to schedule pickup – 310-234-8730”, Instead of “learn Spanish” use “add Spanish learning podcast in iTunes”, Instead of “Finalize Budget” use “email Rob to get Storage Forecast for the rest of the year.”

Review your Someday/Maybe Items– Review your someday/maybe list to see if anything has risen to the level where you want to make it an active project

Don’t skip this review – it’s extremely important if you want to decrease your stress levels.

Skipping the “Weekly Review” is the most common way people fall off the GTD bandwagon.

I dedicate 1 hour per week to the Weekly Review.  Here is how I break it down:

Review Projects (35 min) – This is the most important part of the weekly review

  • Do I have the bandwidth and resources to do this project?
  • Breakdown each project into discrete tasks
  • What do I want to accomplish this to move this project closer to completion?
  • When do I need to accomplish it by?
  • Move each projects next action to the next actions list
  • Add new projects describing “What does done look like?” – include the desired outcome as the first word in projects: finalize, implement, research, publish, distribute, maximize, learn, set up, organize, create, design, install, repair, submit, handle, resolve
  • Okay to have projects that say things like “Draft three ideas…” or “Think about…”

Review Areas of Focus (5 min) – A quick review of areas of focus to keep them fresh in my mind and see if it triggers any Projects

Review Goals & Objectives (5 min)
–  A quick review of goals and objective of focus to keep them fresh in my mind and see if it triggers any Projects

Review Calendar (10 min) – Start with three months out, then next month, then current month, then this week

  • Look at the big picture by month view then focus on the week view because the week is the unit of measure to connect daily tasks to their strategic priorities
  • Family first – schedule time with the family – only one night out per week, schedule breakfast one day per week, what are we doing on Saturday?
  • Schedule time to process email/inbox three times a day
  • Schedule “Walk the Halls” time once a week
  • Do I REALLY need to be in the meetings

Review Someday/Maybe items (5 min)

  • Add individual items to the master list
  • Determine if any items need to become active projects
  • Delete Items that are no longer of interest
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About Michael Keithley
Digital Transformation CIO and Public Speaker. Previously, CIO at Creative Artists Agency

2 Responses to The Weekly Review

  1. David Shupe says:

    Michael, thank you for this very useful post. I never considered the possibility of doing a Weekly Review on Monday morning as I usually think of this as a week-ending activity. I also really like your detailed checklist of how you do the review.

  2. Justin Davis says:

    At my firm (prof. services) we look at our 40 hour workweek as perishable inventory of time that once its lost, can never be replaced. I encourage my sr staff (who have a few direct reports each) to use Mondays as an administrative day for organizing themselves and their workweek. The first half of Monday and the last half of Friday are usually tough to get clients on the phone making decisions anyway, so we use this time for internal tasks. By COB on Mondays my sr staff have full calendars for each upcoming week. I also encourage my staff to place details of the work to be accomplished right inside the Event. Don’t waste time saving notes someplace else, and its helpful to have that historical record. And I do agree – when my consultants skip their monday reviews due to holidays or some other reason, without fail their week is chaotic.

    What is the percentage of internal, unread emails at most large organizations? I’d be willing to bet a solid 5% – 10% of everything that hits an inbox internally (not marketing emails) goes unread. And because of this, how many tasks slip through cracks?There is a difference between being busy and productive. I try to teach my consultants its better to inform your clients you’ll need a few days to respond to an email and put it on your calendar to do so, then to never respond at all because of lost visibility. I’ll trade rapid hastiness for slower dependability any day of the week – and it shows in my hiring/firing practices.

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