How To Make Your Weekly Review More Effective

A weekly review is one of the critical components of a successful productivity system. I think that it is very important, but no one speaks more powerfully about the importance of the Weekly Review than David Allen.

The goal of your weekly review is to assess your situation, and to make sure that your system is current and up to date. A good weekly review should focus on getting clear, getting current, and getting creative. (Tweet This)

I usually do my weekly review on Sunday evening. I schedule one hour for my Weekly Review, but some people recommend scheduling 1-2 hours. I think this amount of time is rarely necessary, but it may take you longer the first couple of times that you do it.

What do I do during this time?

Get Clear – 15 mins

  1. Physical collection - Collect all of your papers and materials. Take some time to clean up your work space, empty your inbox, your wallet, clean off the top of your desk, etc. Collect all the the “stuff” that has not been processed since your last weekly review.
  2. Mental collection – Do a mental “download” of anything that is on your mind, and that you have not added to your system to be processed.
  3. Process and organize – This is the most difficult step. You need to go through each item, and make a decision on what to do with it. If there’s something that you can respond to in two-minutes or less, go ahead and respond, but don’t do anything that requires more time than that. For each item, you need to decide if it is something that requires you to take action. If not, you have three options. You can:
  • Trash it;
  • Add it to your “Someday/Maybe” list; or
  • File it for future reference.

If the item requires you to take action, You can:

  • Do it if it takes less than two minutes, or add it to your to-do list;
  • Defer it by scheduling time on your calendar to deal with it; or
  • Delegate it and put it on your “Waiting For” list.

Get Current – 30 mins

Review your ideas, projects, calendar appointments. This is where you will spend the bulk of my time.

  1. Review your action list – You should be doing this daily. During your Weekly Review you should ask yourself the question, “What do I really need to accomplish this week?” If it’s important, put it on your calendar and schedule a time to do it.
  2. Review your calendar -
    • Review your previous week’s calendar. This will allow you to see any items that require follow-up.
    • Review your upcoming calendar.This will allow you to prepare for important meetings, and get a head start on any items due this week.
  1. Review your “Waiting for” list - This is a list of items you have delegated to others and are important enough to track. If something is overdue, or if you need a progress report, send an e-mail to gently nudge the person responsible.
  2. Review your “Project list” - When an item consists of more than one action, it is a project. Review your projects and make sure that you have at least one next action for each project to keep each one of them moving forward.

Get Creative – 15 mins

This is where you can brainstorm professional and personal projects that might need to be added to your to-do or project list.

  1. Review your “Someday Maybe” list - These are items that didn’t require immediate action, but might be nice to do “someday”. If you are ready to move forward on any of these, change the category and put it on the appropriate to-do or project list.
  2. Get Creative – Brainstorm other ideas that you have always wanted to get to, and add them to the appropriate list. Review your Life Plan and look for items that you have not made the time to work on.

One common trap that people fall into while doing their weekly review is that they spend a lot of time doing instead of reviewing. Don’t fall into this trap, if a item takes more than 2 minutes to complete, put it in your to-do list and move on.

Many people are reluctant to start doing a regular weekly review because they think that it will be time consuming and difficult. This outline should make it a little easier for you to manage. Once you get into the habit of doing this weekly, you will be amazed at how organized you will be. You will be more in control and fewer things will fall through the cracks.

If you need more information on how to do a weekly review, David Allen offers a free template checklist on his site that will help you get started.

Have you tried to do a weekly review. If so, what has your experience been? If not, why not? Please comment below.


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