Many people struggle with their GTD weekly review. I know, I used to be one of them. The weekly review is maybe the hardest part of GTD, but also the most rewarding one. If you succeed in this, you will succeed at getting things done.
What is the weekly review?
I want you to picture yourself in the following situation: It is Saturday, you are alone in your house or apartment. You decide to tidy up your desk and the corner that is your home-office.
What do you do? You start by sorting all loose papers, throwing away what is not needed – and archiving the rest. The stuff that you need to take action on is placed in your in-tray.
When you are done with tidying up, you make yourself a cup of coffee before sitting down to work trough your in-tray. You make a list of all outstanding actions. You go trough the old to-do lists and transfer your actions to the new list. Then you look trough your calendar and make sure that you are up-to-date on what is happening in the week to come.
I’m sure that you have done something like this before. Then, why is it so hard to do this at regular intervals? Why do so many people doing GTD struggle with their weekly review?
I think that part of the reason is that, because you are doing GTD, you do not feel as overwhelmed as you did prior to cleaning out your home-office. You think that your time is better spent doing things than just going through what you already have done or should do. Guess what, you’re wrong!
Think of the GTD weekly review as a pit-stop, a chance to fix small issues before they become showstoppers.
Why you should do a weekly review
- Sometimes you will find that you have completed action items without updating your action lists. Hence, the result of the weekly review will be the satisfaction of marking these items as complete.
- It’s a chance to adjust your priorities.
- You start the new week knowing what to expect.
- It’s your chance to fix what has slipped through the cracks in a busy week.
- You can start the weekend with peace of mind.
- Bonus: The result is a sense of accomplishment. You know that you are in total control.
The anatomy of a GTD weekly review
The weekly review is a two-step operation. You start with clearing out all of your inboxes, both physical, digital and mental.
- Collect all papers and materials
Gather all accumulated business cards, receipts, and miscellaneous paper-based materials into your physical inbox.
- Get “IN” to zero
Process everything in your inbox, as well as outstanding papers, journal and meeting notes, and emails.
- Empty your head
Put in writing and process any uncaptured new projects, action items, waiting for items, someday maybe items, etc.
The next step is to get up-to-date on all your actions and projects and to be prepared for the week ahead.
- Review your action lists
Mark off completed actions.
- Review the previous week in calendar
Review past calendar week for remaining action items. Have you followed-up on what you committed to?
- Review the upcoming week on your calendar
Review upcoming calendar events–long and short-term. Capture actions triggered.
- Review your follow-up list
Record appropriate actions for any needed follow-up. Check off received ones.
- Review your projects
Evaluate status of projects to make sure that you have at least one current action item on each.
If I have little time, I sometimes will split my GTD weekly review between work and private. In periods where I have been traveling a lot, I have done my weekly review on the plane. I found this very effective as I would be able to work without interruptions.
For instructions on how to set up your GTD weekly review as a project in Todoist, see
My Todoist GTD setup – Part 2: Weekly Review and Focus Horizons.