I am a big proponent of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. I have used his method for 2 years now and I must say that I now know what he meant by “mind like water”. When I first got interested in David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology, my mind was scattered and I found that I was always forgetting to do certain tasks. I felt that my mind was full of stuff I was supposed to do, but I did not know how to organize my thoughts and feel at peace. GTD offered me a framework to capture my thoughts and process them efficiently, and experience peace of mind. The most important part of GTD for me is the Weekly Review.
What is the weekly review
The weekly review is a productivity practice that you perform each week to get clear on your tasks, goals and projects and what needs to be done. It can be performed in as short as 20 minutes, or take a few hours. Mine usually takes 30 minutes or so. I go through my task list and make sure that nothing goes unnoticed. I take a look at my goals and projects and figure out the next actions I need to take. I go through the open loops of my week and organize them into actionable items. It allows me to create a plan for the coming week that takes into account all I need to do to achieve my goals. It is my secret weapon!
The advantages of the weekly review
As Brian Tracy so eloquently said, “Every minute you spend planning saves 10 minutes in execution.” There lies the strength of the weekly review. It allows you to carefully plan for the week ahead and get clarity on the tasks that need to be done and the projects worth pursuing. It will help you make sure that no important tasks are left unattended, and free your mind from worry. As Bruce Harpham, author of Project Management Hacks explains, you will quickly look forward to the weekly review.
“Once it becomes a habit, I look forward to it. It gives a sense of increased satisfaction and control.” – Bruce Harpham, author of Project Management Hacks
Weekly review step by step
In the Getting things done book, David Allen explains the weekly review process. There are 3 main steps to the weekly review :
- Get clear
- Get current
- Get creative
Each part has a set of tasks, like a checklist.
- Collect loose paper and materials
In GTD, we collect tasks, review materials and anything that requires an action in an ”inbox”. An inbox can be physical, like the tray that lays on my desk, or can be digital, like my Evernote inbox notebook. In this step, you collect every scrap of paper into your inbox. I empty my purse, my wallet and the back pocket of my bullet journal.
- Get inbox to zero
Now is the time to process all the things that lay in your inbox. Any tasks go into my task manager, any review material gets scanned and archived in Evernote. Anything that is does not require action gets trashed. It is important to know that the weekly review is not the time to ”do” the tasks. I often get the urge to get working, but I remind myself to focus on the planning, not the doing.
- Empty your head
The Brain Dump is one of the most useful concepts in the GTD system, at least for me. It is simple. Get a piece of paper and write down anything that comes to mind. Any pesky tasks you need to take action on, any projects you would like to start, any ideas floating in your mind, get it all out on the piece of paper. I bet you will feel lighter! When my mind feels scattered throughout the week, I dump everything on paper and get peace of mind instantly.
- Review action lists
This one is pretty self-explanatory, go through your to-do list and make sure nothing goes unnoticed. Get clear on the next actions you need to take and create reminders for those tasks if you need to.
- Review your calendar
Go through last week’s appointments and write down any associated tasks you need to take action on. Then, review next week’s appointments to make sure everything is ready for meetings or presentation. Enter everything you need to do in your task manager.
- Review project lists
What are the projects you are working on at the moment? For David Allen, a project is anything that requires two tasks or more to get accomplished. What are your home projects, your work projects, your leisure projects? Write down the next action you need to take for every project and enter them in your task manager. I have a list in OneNote of every project I am working on, with a due date next to them. It helps me during my weekly review.
- Review Someday/Maybe list
The Someday/Maybe list is a list of all the projects you would like to work on in the future, but aren’t quite ready yet. Kitchen remodel? A trip to Europe? Having kids? Write it down on your Someday/Maybe list and during your weekly review, assess if the project is ready to be taken on. If so, put it in your current projects list and enter the next action you need to take in your task manager.
How do I get started?
Getting started is pretty simple. Choose a day of the week when you can get a good hour to yourself. Schedule your review in your calendar, to make sure that you don’t forget. On the set date, start with a brain dump. Take a few minutes to write down any task or project floating into your mind on a piece of paper. Next, enter the tasks in your preferred task manager. (If you don’t use one, I highly recommend Todoist, a free, simple task manager that is very intuitive). Go through your task list and prioritize. Make sure any project you are currently working on gets at least 1 task assigned for this week. That’s it! Your first review is done! Next time you do a review, make a list of your current projects and Someday/Maybe items you would like to work on.
The first time you go through your weekly review, it may take a while to perform. But every time, it gets shorter and easier. Just keep at it every week!
I have prepared a weekly review cheatsheet to help you during your reviews, you can get the free pdf here.
Will you try the weekly review? Are you already a fan of this concept? Let me know in the comments below!
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