Productivity and GTD

The Weekly Review, in detail

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
"Manage the forest instead of hugging the trees." ~ David Allen

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The Weekly Review is a time that GTDers dedicate to our personal organization every week. More specifically, it is a time we spend to restore our balance, ensuring that everyday urgencies will not impose their law and, therefore, we are always working on what is actually important.

The Weekly Review is a key component of GTD, to the point that if you do not do it, you are probably not following the methodology the right way. It is the way to be proactive about things that happen to you and take control. It is when you say: “Hey! Wait a minute. What am I doing?”

Choose your time

The Weekly Review does not have to be exactly weekly. It is about doing a periodic review of your situation with certain frequency. It might be every 5 or 10 days, but in a society where everything is planned by weeks, it makes more sense for it to be every 7 days.

Choose the best time to do it according to your activity. Some tips:

  • It is interesting that you do it at the end of the week, because during the week a lot of new commitments appear that need to be assessed.
  • Find a time when you know you will have few distractions and a certain tranquility.
  • If you rest on weekends, it is better to do it before, for two reasons. One, you still have everything that has happened fresh in your mind and, two, starting a weekend relaxed, knowing that everything is in order, is priceless.
  • Do not be tempted to work during the Weekly Review. Reviewing does not mean working.
  • Once you have set up the time, plan the Weekly Review on your Calendar and turn it into a sacred habit.

Get clear

The first phase of the Weekly Review is to do the clean-up, collecting everything you have scattered around into your trusted system, and processing it. The result should be that everything is in your system and your Inbox is empty:

  • Collect in your Inbox every note of your notebooks, loose papers, business cards, bills, etc.
  • Empty your mind. What remains in your head that you have not yet captured in your system? Dump everything on your Inbox.
  • Process all you have in your inbox(es). It is possible that, besides your GTD tool, you have one or more email accounts and several collection tools like Evernote, Twitter, etc.

Get current

The second stage is to keep your system up to date, and this is absolutely necessary for you to fully trust it.

  • Review your action lists. Check off the actions already done, update your reminders and add new Next Actions if necessary.
  • Review your past week events in your Calendar. Is there anything pending? Confirm that everything is done or update dates if necessary. If an event requires additional actions, add them to your Next Actions list.
  • Review your upcoming events in your Calendar. It is possible that some of them require previous actions. Add them to Next Actions.
  • Review your Waiting For list. Check off what you have already received and record the appropriate actions to track what remains.
  • Review your Projects. Evaluate the status of each project. Review the support material and add new actions if necessary. Make sure you have at least one Next Action for each active project.

And get creative

You have everything under control. Now it is the time to dig up old longings, imagine, dream, invent or simply improve things:

  • Review your Someday/Maybe list. Is it time to activate a project that was put off or abandoned? Activate it. Are there things that no longer make sense? Release ballast and remove them.
  • Imagine. What do you want to do? What can you improve? What new ideas are you thinking of? Do not let them go and add them to your system.

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