The Reflect Stage of GTD, ExplainedAUTHOR: María Sáez
“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.” ~ Henri Bergson.
The 5 stages of the GTD workflow:
1. The Capture Stage of GTD, Explained
2. The Clarify Stage of GTD, Explained
3. The Organize Stage of GTD, Explained
4. The Reflect Stage of GTD, Explained
5. The Engage Stage of GTD, Explained
Your life is not static and therefore your personal management system shouldn’t be either. As your reality changes, you will need to make changes to your system and notice the possibilities that these changes open or close; what new moves they enable and which ones they foreclose.
It is strongly recommended that you review your entire system on a regular basis, to ensure that it is a faithful mirror of your reality. The “magic” formula for the long-term sustainability of your system is the Weekly Review. It’s essential to ensure the reliability of the entire organizational system.
We can group the steps necessary to do the Weekly Review into three categories:
The Weekly Review begins by collecting and clarifying all the incomplete items.
1. Capture all the inputs that are not yet in the system: Gather the spare papers and materials, the electronic “inputs” still to be processed, and empty your head of the rest of the unfinished stuff.
2. Clarify all these inputs and put them in their corresponding lists.
Get up to date
Now is the time to eliminate outdated reminders from your system and update and complete your active lists:
3. Review past calendar entries: Review the calendar entries since the last Weekly Review for pending items and transfer that information into the active system. Capture anything that may require action or triggers an idea.
4. Review future calendar dates: Review calendar entries for the coming weeks to avoid surprises with short reaction time. If necessary, capture anything relevant to prepare for upcoming events.
5. Review the Next Actions lists: Delete completed actions and review the contexts and Agendas lists. Capture new stuff if necessary.
6. Review the Waiting For list: Record all delegated actions and eliminate from the list everything you have already received. Also follow up on actions still in progress (check the status of a delegated issue, add an item you would like to discuss in an already scheduled appointment with someone, etc.).
7. Review the Project list: Evaluate the status of the projects one by one and make sure you have at least one ongoing next action for each of them. Take a look at all supporting materials related to ongoing projects that have interest and potential to trigger new actions.
Once you have updated your system and have a clear vision of all you are doing, it is a good time to boost creative thinking. To do so:
8. Review the Someday/Maybe list: A project may have become more interesting and valuable; if so, activate it and move it to the project list. Remove any items that have lost relevance.
9. Be creative and brave: Is there a new idea you can capture and include in your system? Now that you have a clearer perspective of your life, it’s a good time to think of new things, have ideas, and create.
The Weekly Review is very important and it is up to you to create good habits, establish the right environments and get the tools to help you support it.
Once a week you will need to step away from your daily routine for a while; not to disconnect, but to place yourself on a higher horizon from which to observe the whole of your projects and get up to date. Try to adjust this ritual practice to your particular circumstances (whatever they may be) to make the use of the system effective.
You may not get the full benefit of the Weekly Review at first. When you don’t have an actual complete system in place, there is no great reward in reviewing things. The more complete your system is, the more you trust it; and the more you trust it, the greater your motivation to maintain it. The Weekly Review is the master key to keeping that pattern going, the key to successful workflow management.
Reflect, in a nutshell
What is it? The periodical and complete review of your organizational system carefully considering its contents.
How do you do it? By reviewing all your lists and inventories of pending and ongoing issues, and adding and discarding everything that is relevant; in other words, updating it according to the changes that occur in your day-to-day life.
When do you do it? Once a week.
Why? To keep your organizational system up to date and at peak performance, which will provide you with clarity, calm and creativity to progress in your personal and professional projects.