The Power and Importance of a Weekly Review

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Sunday night. You enjoy a great dinner, get the kids to bed, pour a nice little Scotch, and do this one big thing.

It’s time for the single-most important thing I do all week to keep myself focused and productive: The weekly review.

My process is based on the more extensive Weekly Review in David Allen’s Getting Things Done system.  My version is a bit shorter, but in my opinion still highly valuable and easier to emulate (as well as stick with on a regular basis).
It starts with a comprehensive inventory of projects. I keep these in Outlook Tasks tagged as “Projects – Active”.  For me, a project is anything that’s more than one task. Something I can’t or won’t get done right away.

These projects cover a lot of ground.  All work-related projects (for the business, for clients, for staff, etc.), all household projects, things I need to do in my personal life, etc.  I use this as a safety net to keep track of all the more comprehensive things I want to get done.  Oftentimes, if I come up with a project in the middle of the week that doesn’t need to be worked on right away, I’ll add it to the Project list and literally “forget about it” until the next weekly review.

I do also have a “Projects – Someday” list that’s full of things I eventually want to do.  I typically review this list quarterly to see if anything needs to be moved to the Active list.

I print out that Active Projects list so I have it physically in front of me.  I have it alphabetized by topic so it’s easier to work through.  For example, something that’s a Heinz Marketing project might be titled “Heinz Marketing: Holiday Party Planning”.  Sometimes a project will have notes included or attached, sometimes not.

Then, with Scotch in hand, I work through each Project on the list one by one. At each step, I do one of the following:

Identify an immediate next steps for my task list: If it’s something I haven’t worked on yet or in awhile, I quickly identify the immediate next thing I need to do – the tactical, single next task – to move that project forward. Typcially this gets assigned to myself as a to-do later in the week. I don’t worry about whatever task comes after that. This usually gets notated once the first task is complete, or there’s next week’s review to pick it back up again.

Make a note to ask for an update on something I’m waiting for: Sometimes I’m waiting for a deliverable or update from someone else, and the weekly review helps me remember to ask for and get that more quickly.

Confirm (on paper or in my head) that I already have the right next step in my task list:  Self-explanatory.

Defer to next week: This happens quite often. Many things on my active project list just aren’t going to get attention in the coming week given other priorities. In this case, I give myself permission to literally forget about it until the following week’s review

Delete the project: If it’s been completed, it’s gone. Sometimes projects get moved to the “someday” folder, but most of the time they stay active until they are completed.

What results from this is typically a fairly full to-do list for the coming week.  But it gives me confidence that I’m focusing on the right things, and not letting anything fall through the cracks.

During the week, new projects get added. Sometimes that comes with an immediate first to-do on my task list, sometimes I just wait until the next weekly review.

I think of this as my weekly safety net. If I’m focused, I can typically get this done in 30 minutes or so.

If you do something similar, I’d love to hear about it. And if you give this one a shot, I’d love to hear how it goes!

[Read the original article published on HeinzMarketing.com]

[Ed. Note. Matt Heinz brings more than 15 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations, vertical industries and company sizes. His career has focused on delivering measurable results for his employers and clients in the way of greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty. Follow Matt on his blog here.]
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  • Don

    Hi. Great article! I’m a firm believer in lists and task management. I created a responsive web app called aiwtasks that follows Dr. Stephen Coveys Four Quadrants Process for task management. I use aiw for 10 minutes each morning, to help me prioritize and focus on important tasks that will further my goals, and check off the tasks I’ve completed. It’s free – anyone can use it if they register, and it works the same way on all devices. I hope others find aiw, and other tools and processes you have mentioned, as useful as I do.

  • Patrick

    There is a great free tool called Trello that does exactly this. I hope this helps some implement your strategy without any dollar cost.