From Getting Things Done, by David Allen:
"The real trick to ensuring the trustworthiness of the whole organization system lies in regularly refreshing your psyche and your system from a more elevated perspective."The Weekly Review has real power, the power to heal your mind and let you get your things done. Left undone, life and work come at you too fast for your overloaded mind to keep up. Once again you will find yourself overwhelmed, surrounded by "opportunities to excel". When you are surrounded by things that need to get done, tasks to be accomplished and calls to be returned, you can get the feeling that you have nowhere to turn. Without a coherent plan you will have no way to decide what choice to make, and then the feeling that any choice is the wrong one will leave you paralyzed, only to submerge beneath the waves of tasks and responsibilities.
So what do you do? What's the next action?
Be Prepared.Block out some time in your busy schedule and create a plan for managing all of the pieces of your weekly review: what to collect, how to process it, where to organize it, when will this all get done?
The short answer is "now". The long answer is: in a few minutes, after you download & review these checklists: (links were broken, now they are fixed! Download away!!)
The Weekly Review Checklist
The Weekly Review Checklist is designed to keep your Projects and Next Actions from slipping through the cracks in your memory. Following from the principle of "ruthless iterations", it occurred to me that a Monthly Review and Quarterly Review should also be incredibly useful tools for keeping myself on track. Of course, you will need to edit and adjust these checklists to fit your own particular system. This is how I use it:
- Review the Tickler File ~ Look at all of the folders/pages from the past week, making sure that everything was done. Re-Tickle anything that didn't get done, if appropriate. Jot down any ideas that occur to you while reviewing and put them in the In-Box.
- Process the In-Box ~ I use this time to pay bills, update my checkbook, file receipts and papers and notes, clean out my wallet, and other little "housekeeping" chores. After the in-box has been emptied, I review and clean up the hPDA.
- Calendar Review ~ Simply reviewing the time-specific actions and information from the past week. Does any of it need to get archived for possible retrieval? Then I synchronize my diary with G-Cal, focusing on the full month ahead. My wife and I share a Google calendar, and it has made a world of difference. Finally, in the spirit of efficiency, I process any emails that are sitting in the inbox.
- Project Review ~ First I close and archive any completed Projects, prepared to jot down any ideas that occur to me as I do this. Next, I update current and forthcoming Projects on the @Project List by asking myself if the Project is still worthwhile. I have saved a great deal of time by letting go of projects that had turned away from the original goal, or if the goal of the project had shifted. While reviewing each Project, I can check the status of Next Actions that are in @Waiting For, and tickle or calendar a contact action for the person responsible for getting back to me. (Do not actually email them now, the purpose of this exercise is review, not do)
- Next Action Review ~ Clean up the @Next Action list with the focus on "is the action/project still worthwhile" and "what is being waited on". This is the third time the @Next Action list has been looked over by now, so any Next Actions remaining should be valid.
- Review the Someday/Maybe list ~ Has the Review brought any ideas to the front of your mind that need to be logged here?
- Review Support Files ~ Scan through these files and archives for inspiration.
- Brainstorm Creative Ideas ~ What would your current projects look like from beyond the completion date? Envision wild success, what is the best possible result? Capture the features, concepts, and possibilities that you imagine as a result of this success.
When you have completed your Weekly Review, archive it with your notes in a dated folder, so that you can access it easily at the end of the month. Incorporating a scan of your Weekly Reviews into your Monthly Review is very important to your overall success.
The Monthly Review is an expanded version of the Weekly Review. The first five Actions on the Monthly Checklist correspond directly to the Weekly Checklist, and should go quickly. Number six on the Monthly Checklist is a little different:
- 6. Review Someday/Maybe list ~ Are your Roles/Current Responsibilities in line to achieve these far-off goals? Can any of them be moved in the category of @1-2 Year Goals or @3-5 Year Vision? It is important to keep an eye on your long-term goals, so that they do not stay in the category of "long-term goals".
- 7. Review Roles/Current Responsibilities ~ The Monthly Review has a new number seven: The concept of Roles is from Steven Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", and these roles should be reviewed monthly, checking your progress on the goals that you have set. If there is a disconnect between these roles and your long-range plans, now is the time to fix it.
- 8. Review 1-2 Year Goals ~ Is the Goal still worthwhile? This is an important question to ask yourself, as conditions may have changed or you may wish to increase (or decrease) the importance of certain aspects of your life. Is it appropriate to move any of these goals into @Next Actions or @Projects?
- 9. Review Support Files ~ This is the same as the Weekly Review.
- 10. Brainstorm Creative Ideas ~ Focus on your Roles/Current Responsibilities. Are there any that could be changed or improved?
Again, when you have completed your Monthly Review with its notes, archive it in a dated folder, so that you have easy access to it at the end of the quarter. You are working on a larger scale now, so incorporating a scan of your Monthly Reviews into your Quarterly Review will aid in keeping you on track to achieving your long-term goals.
Finally, the Quarterly Review Checklist. Designed to be a supplement to the Monthly Checklist, it guides your focus onto longer-term goals and higher-level values:
- Review 3-5 Year Goals ~ Is it still worthwhile? Always a good question for clarifying intentions. Can any of these get moved up into a new category such as @Next Actions, @Projects, or @1-2 Year Goals? Brainstorm one thing that can get done this Quarter to advance one or more of these goals.
- Review Career Goals ~ Are you where you want to be? Where do you want to go? What Next Action can be undertaken this Quarter to advance your career goals? Use the Tickler File to help track your progress.
- Review Purpose ~ Are your Principles still in line? Brainstorming will help most here.
- Review Lifestyle ~ Once again, are your choices still valid? In line with Values and Principles? Are your Roles and Current Responsibilities in harmony with the Lifestyle you have? With the Lifestyle that you want? What are two positive changes that you can make to improve your lifestyle this Quarter?
Another dated archive folder should be created to contain this Quarterly Review and the attendant Monthly Reviews. Take good notes that you incorporate into your system as it is currently running, with a copy of these notes in the archive. You will want to review this Worksheet and these notes at the following Quarterly Review in order to track your progress. In addition, you will want to do an Annual Review at the end of the fourth Quarter, in which you review the results of the Quarterly progress reports. The Annual Review is beyond the scope of this post, as I have not been practicing GTD long enough to have done one! I anticipate that such a Worksheet would have features involving taking a good, hard look at the Roles and Current Responsibilities; it may have a 1-2 Year Goal review, including choosing one to accomplish in the coming year; I believe that introducing a 3-5 Year Vision tracking tool would be useful; it should definitely feature a Someday/Maybe review tool as well. I have created a rough draft of this tool, that I will refer to at each Quarterly Review, in order to implement the best tracking system.
I do not expect this to be taken as the be-all and end-all of Review Checklists, but I look at it as a good starting point for directing the evolution of my GTD system. I encourage you to alter the checklists for your own use, and please, feel free to respond with any suggestions or improvements.
There is a related post at Studentlinc with a downloadable PDF of a Weekly Schedule Planner:
» Weekly View section - The weekly calendar sits on the left hand side of the paper. Each day is a box, with Saturday/Sunday sharing a box. The boxes have a place to write in the date. They also have a set of of boxes that a person can use to write in the corresponding numbers from the todo section. This has helped me assign various todo's to certain days of the week.
» ToDo section - This section is on the upper right hand side of the paper. It is set up so the person can organize his/her todo's according to roles or categories (thank you Stephen Covey for that idea!). Each role has enough spaces to list five todo's. The todo's are given numbers that can be referred to in the weekly view or in the open space below.
» Notes | Ideas | Space section - This section is a wide open space on the bottom right hand portion of the page. It is the place where I find myself writing down everything I wrote down on post-it notes or index cards. It is a free-for-all space. I've added the letters A-Z down the left hand side of this space in case there's something you'd like to add and refer back to it in another section.
[hat tip: ti mage]