The weekly review is one of the most important pieces of the GTD methodology.  It is also one of the most forgotten or skipped or dreaded.  I’m as guilty as anyone else.  Another blog post this week plus the start of classes on top of work has motivated me to get my weekly review going again. 

In Getting Things Done David Allen suggests doing your weekly review on friday afternoon.  A lot of other people have suggested the same thing (such as the blog post above) and frankly I’ve tried.  But I have concluded that friday afternoon doesn’t work for me.  My energy level is low and I am rarely in a good state to make decisions.  Moreover if something “comes up” I am likely to skip the review in favor of doing whatever it is. 

So, inspired by Cal’s GTD modifications, I am moving my weekly review to saturday mornings.  Why saturday mornings?

  • The majority of planning is around my academic work, and for at least the next 6 months the vast majority of that will take place on weekends.
  • I’ve slept in and wake up more refreshed and alert
  • I’m home, where most of my review needs to take place anyway.
  • Because of my full time day job for the next few months I can’t take a full day off every week.  I need both saturday and sunday to work on my academic stuff. 

Whatever time I wake up, that is when I do it.  This timing lets me organize my work for the upcoming weekend, during which I have chunks of time to do things, but also lets me relax on fridays. 

One of the next actions for today is to create myself a checklist for my weekly review.  There are many of them around already, but I am rapidly concluding that each person’s life is different.  So here is mine:

  • COLLECT: This should be ongoing during the week but I consider it important to double check first
    • Clean out wallet / tote / backpack: put all loose paper into the inbox
    • Collect any miscellaneous papers around the house and add to inbox
    • Clear desk and put away supplies.  Add note to inbox on anything that needs to be replenished
    • Clean out garbage from car
  • PROCESS: Get up to date
    • Process inbox (the papers just collected)
    • Process email inbox if not at zero
    • Process voicemail messages that need responses
    • File support materials (make labels/folders if necessary)
    • Review each project
      • add any new next actions to the list
      • close or archive if complete
      • ensure it is still active or if it needs to be moved to someday/maybe
      • make sure there is at least one next action on the list
    • Review each syllabus;
      • add readings and imminent assignments to the list
      • If there are any big projects coming up create as their own project and add them to the list
      • ensure that all firm dates are on the calendar
    • Review google calendar
      • make sure anything written in paper copy has been added to the electronic version
      • print off copies of the new version
    • Review next action list
      • move delegated items to waiting for
      • delete dead items
      • ensure that each item is actionable and not too vague
      • if there is a valid due date, note it on the item
    • Review someday/maybe list for items to be upgraded (unlikely in the next 6 months)
    • Review waiting for’s to ensure that nothing is stagnant
      • Send follow-up messages or add calls to the next action list
  • PLAN:
    • Review list as compared to available time for the weekend and determine what can be completed
    • Determine available non-weekend time and identify tasks that can be done then
    • Determine menu for the week and update the shopping list

There are a couple of departures from strict GTD in here.

  1. I put due dates on my next actions; almost all of them. This helps me prioritize on the fly.
  2. I have one next actions list.  Contexts don’t make sense for me and with them I tend to lose things.
  3. I have added weekly tasks (like menu planning) to the checklist rather than making it a repeating next action.  That’s when I would do it anyway….