One of the significant reasons that David Allen’s GTD has struck such a resonant chord with me, is that I have always been a huge fan of doing the process he calls the Weekly Review. I’ve long been a Personal Productivity Practice nut, and I’ve done my own kind of weekly review for as long as I can remember being in management. It is as much a habit with me as is brushing my teeth. At this point of my life, to not do it is inconceivable. I must do my weekly review to feel I have any control over my schedule —and thus my life—whatsoever.
When I don’t do it I tend to feel scattered and lost, and I get this nagging feeling I am missing something. Not forgetting it, for I’ve learned to collect/process/ and organize and not rely on memory. I’ve also learned to then honor landscape of my calendar. But without the weekly review I can still feel I am potentially missing something, because I have to design that landscape of my calendar with the proper perspective. It is that proper perspective the weekly review gives me.
Allen has a great checklist for the Weekly Review, and I recommend you try it even if you haven’t yet read his entire book. Here’s a link. Unless you are spontaneity’s child, and have never bothered to organize yourself at all, I am sure it will be familiar enough to you to serve as the next best evolution of whatever process you have been using to 1) evaluate the prior week and 2) get ready for the next one — if you are in business, and especially in a management and leadership capacity, you best be doing those two things at minimum.
So what better time for us to talk about this than a Saturday evening, and the final one before our goal of Sweet Closure tomorrow.
Here’s what you do:
1. Decide what day and time each week you will claim for yourself for two hours without fail, and put it on your calendar as a recurring appointment with yourself from now on. If something comes up at that time and you have to reschedule it, do so, however you must reschedule and not cancel completely. This is a habit that begs consistency. If you cheat the process you cheat yourself.
Allen recommends early Friday afternoon. For me Saturday morning has worked best because I have no interruptions or distractions. The rest of my business world assumes I am off on weekends, and I don’t dispel that myth! If I do work, I work for myself. Also, as the only morning person in a family of night owls who adore their Saturday mornings reserved for sleeping in, I have wonderfully reliable quiet time Saturday mornings when technically I’m still home with the family.
2. Then, during this weekly time, pull out Allen’s checklist and follow it until you fall into your groove and personalize it as you need to, i.e. until it becomes your personal habit of weekly organizational time.
3. Make yourself do this religiously, and trust me, you’ll be thanking me for it one of these days. My Weekly Review has become my favorite time of the week. I have more clarity, I feel focused and together, and I have the most new ideas during this time. I feel productive!
In First Things First Covey and the Merrills have a chapter called The Perspective of the Week and they use a good analogy of looking through the lens of a camera. Professional Photographers will use
— a wide-angle lens to capture the big picture
— a telephoto lens to bring objects closer, and
— a normal lens to capture the view that most closely resembles what’s seen by the human eye
You can liken this to our concepts of Time and Perspective. We have
— a wide-angle view for vision and mission, and
— a close-up view in our daily perspective.
— However it is the weekly perspective that gives us our normal view, with sight on both things.
In other words, in the Weekly Perspective, we will link our urgencies, tasks and activities, felt needs, and next steps (i.e. the daily stuff) with our long-term objectives, directional tasks and activities, fundamental needs, and those next steps associated with our dreams (Our vision and mission).
This is the deal for me: The Weekly Window is manageable. We have this expectation of the daily grind, in that we will have to go with the flow and be flexible, and that if something has to be postponed, so be it, life happens. Longer than a week, it is too easy to procrastinate and find justification for doing something else that seems more time-sensitive. Things get too far ahead of us to be associated with scheduling those all-important Next Actions which get us to make things happen.
Said in another way, within the window of a week, I keep myself honest and get real about what is reasonably and predictably achievable, and therefore should be scheduled and honored so it will get done.
As for the analysis of the previous week, its only been a week and is not too far from recent memory for the evaluation of my experiences and lessons learned to be the most useful. However I also have some distance from things which may have just happened. Thus they are less emotional. They are also associated in my mind as more complete capsules, because they are in the context of the entire design of the week – was my design effective for me or not?
Above and Beyond.
Other tips on the Weekly Review:
- As you personalize your weekly review, keep the process simple and try to keep within that two-hour window. Consider Allen’s Checklist to be the basics you MUST do, and don’t add any more bells and whistles until your Weekly Review habit is firmly rooted in those basics. Personally I have a different checklist for my Monthly Review (done about the same time I do my TS Recaps) and for an Annual Review (done during my Ho‘omaha sabbatical) so that I keep those processes separate from the weekly one.
- Don’t try to do your Weekly Review if you are tired and your mind is toast. Better to reschedule it to when you can focus.
- Your Project List will be the key to the Weekly Review being truly meaningful for you. Review your long-term strategies quarterly (I cycle them with my Monthly Review). Review your Ho‘ohana (life, vision, purpose) yearly or when you make a
significant change, such as with a new job or move to a new home.
- Studying GTD, reading David Allen’s other writings and listening to him on audio has done something else for me. Put together with my own favorite tools and geekery, my new knowledge has helped me make my weekly review portable so I can do it while I’m on the road. I’ve always been good about rescheduling my weekly review when things come up that I deem as important, however now I no longer have to reschedule it because I’m not in my office to do it.
Thank goodness. For I have been overly ambitious with a number of things lately. I do admit to you that I have renegotiated some agreements, and did not accomplish everything I’d set my sights on; my eyes were too big for my plate. However, here we are on October 29th and one day early, my Sweet Closure project for MWA3P is done: I have wrapped up the MWA3P Email Coaching Pilot Program, and my curriculum has been completed for the 2006 Case Study Program sold in January. How sweet it is!
Now I do still have tomorrow ” perhaps I’ll look at those other renegotiated agreements one more time before watching that Friends tape with my red wine”
Reference: What is GTD?