The Weekly Review
…or checking on your checklists
When people think about productivity, they often think about what’s next to do on their task list. What can get overlooked is actually the most important part of a productivity workflow: the weekly review.
Getting a chance to step back and review once a week is vital for understanding where you’re going, what you’re actually doing every day, and what’s left to be done towards your goals. David Allen’s Getting Things Done system lays out a low-stress, high-output review cycle.
Allen breaks out your priorities into six levels:
- Runway - Current Actions
- 10,000 feet - Current Projects
- 20,000 feet - Areas of Responsibility
- 30,000 feet - 1-2 Year Goals
- 40,000 feet - 3-5 Year Goals
- 50,000 feet - Life Goals
You should evaluate everything 20,000 feet and above a few times a year. These are perfect things to do around the holidays, during quarterly business cycles, or even on vacation. I used a recent vacation to completely change my life for the better by following this system and breaking the tedium of checking off unimportant tasks day by day.
For our purposes, Current Actions and Current Projects are small enough to be looked in on once a week.
Performing a Review
To begin, you’ll want to…
- Loose Papers and Materials
- Your Inboxes and Process them to Zero
- Any “Open Loops” in your head (including new ideas, nagging thoughts, and “I should” reminders)
- Your calendar (past and future)
- Your Task List (completed and open)
- Your Idea/Swipe File and any Projects on Hold
- Your Major Projects Statuses
- Collect everything you’ve just gathered into a single system (take photos of paper, organize into a to-do list or Evernote, etc)
- Identify what needs to happen before your upcoming events and milestones (what has a due date?)
- Ruthlessly purge the unnecessary (or store things for reference)
Allen actually provides a great checklist for performing the review available as a free download.
Using a Trigger List
You might find it tough to start this process without a jumping off point. Allen actually created a pretty robust trigger list to help jog your memory. Essentially, this list is an overview of all the areas of work and life you might find yourself in. Just by reading through it, I am certain several items will jump out at you and trigger some thought you need to capture.
Allen says you’re doing the review right when you can honestly identify everything you’re not doing. At its core, Getting Things Done is about feeling good about the decisions you make in doing some things instead of others.
Getting Things Done acknowledges that our work is never over and that there’s always going to be more to do than what’s possible in a given day. The review is in place to ensure you’re not forgetting something truly important, yet allowing yourself the ability to say “not yet” without guilt.