This week we continue the ongoing series on GTD practices with a discussion on review. If you are not familiar with the GTD concept, read my GTD overview. Also, as a reminder, if you missed the previous posts in the series on the process of collecting or capturing, processing or organizing, I highly encourage you to start there first.
When we talk about weekly review, we are really talking about series of steps that include reviewing and updating, clarification, prioritization and the thought process necessary to accomplish all of this. The lists of actions and reminders will be of little use if not reviewed regularly. It sounds very involved and time-consuming, the last thing we need, but it really does not have to be. My weekly review takes approximately 30-60 minutes once a week and it is well worth it. When I do not take this time, I find my productivity plummets and the leaks in my routine get more numerous.
Let’s talk through the process of review in practical terms. The first thing you do when you sit down for your allotted review time is to quickly look over all of your ongoing projects and unfinished tasks (actions.) Where are you on all of your projects? Check the status and make sure you have determined your next action for each project. Brainstorm any additional appointments, meetings and tasks that are not on your list? Look in your “tickler” file, your “waiting on response” file and your “someday” file. Is there anything that needs to be followed up on or moved to an actionable task?
The next part of the process, which might actually be done in tandem, as you are looking at your open items, is to clarify your objectives. Are all of your items and projects still really necessary or meaningful and productive? Don’t keep working on things that no longer serve you or your company just because they are on your list! This is a great time to check in with your internal goals, values and life or business plan.
The final phase to your weekly review involves setting priorities. Which actions are most critical or time sensitive? Are you holding up progress on a project with your inaction? Which tasks have a firm deadline? Considering the time, energy, and resources available at any given time, you must select the most important task to be done. If you are inclined to procrastinate, you tend to do the easiest or most comfortable tasks and never get to the unpleasant ones. To avoid this, you may want to prioritize your most difficult tasks first!
To optimize your GTD routine and clarify the method further I highly recommend listening to the GTD Best Practices of Review podcast from David Allen the creator of the GTD system. David and members of his team discuss the critical step of review; their individual routines, tips, tools and methods.
Please share any tips or comments you might have on how you are using this system. Stay tuned for my upcoming posts on this topic….. in the meantime check out the related posts on the GTD System.