As required tasks arise, build up, and even get lost in the shuffle, I find it’s vital to perform a weekly review of my obligations. And this review isn’t done ad-hoc or on an optional basis; it’s as much a part of my weekly work activities as anything else.
If you’re an entrepreneur or are self-guided at work, a review like this can be a lifesaver; you’ll be far less likely to let obligations and ideas slip by your radar. Though I learned the weekly review as part of the all-encompassing Getting Things Done system, you can easily incorporate it into any routine.
Why a Weekly Review?
Personally, I thrive on to-do lists. And to keep from being overwhelmed, I categorize my tasks and separate them into different lists. For me, the weekly review is a chance to review these lists and not let items go unnoticed.
For about an hour each week (on Friday in my case), I review all the different systems I use to organize myself at work (I also do a review for home, btw). By regimenting this review, I experience several benefits:
- I am reminded of obligations and ideas I’ve recorded but forgotten.
- I can organize my systems ranging from my email account to my task lists and CRM.
- I will feel more confident throughout the week that I’m doing what matters most.
What happens in a Weekly Review?
Ideally, at a weekly review, you would examine as many aspects as possible of your work life.
For various positions, I’ve made it a habit to review my e-mail (drilling down into Gmail labels), work databases I would use for recording results, spreadsheets I would use for tracking projects, and my Evernote notes.
I like to perform this review at my work desk.
By the time I’m finished, I am confident that my tracking systems are up-to-date and correct, and I simply don’t worry myself with organizing them throughout the upcoming week.
More Tips for Conducting a Weekly Review
Whatever shape or form your weekly review takes, I would offer a few suggestions:
- If at all possible, designate a time when you will conduct the review. You will ideally want to tune out all other distractions, such as e-mails and discussions with co-workers.
- As you review your obligations, complete tasks that can be done in less than 3 minutes.
- At home, I like to shift my focus on a weekly basis. I’ll look into what needs to be done in my garage with greater focus one week, and look at kitchen projects the next.
Without this review, I may feel a nagging sense I’ve forgotten tasks or that I’m not spending my time wisely. That nagging can act like a cloud hanging over me, preventing me from focusing entirely on what needs to be done now.
With the review completed, however, I’ll work better and experience far less stress and anxiety.