In the fast pace of the modern business world, it is easy to lose your way and become reactive rather than proactive. As a result, you may forget to process notes from your meetings, put assigned tasks on your task list, or, looking forward, anticipate upcoming meetings and events for which you need to prepare.
When this happens, important items fall through the cracks. You end up embarrassed. Worse, you may frustrate your customers, colleagues, or even your boss.
Part of the solution to this problem is the “Weekly Review.” This is an opportunity to get your head above the daily blizzard of activities and see where you’ve been and where you’re going. In my view, this is the key to staying on top of your projects and assignments. The result is that you stay in control of your workload and keep your business associates happy.
No one has written more compellingly about the importance of the Weekly Review than David Allen. In his book, Getting Things Done he writes:
If you’re like me and most people, no matter how good your intentions may be, you’re going to have the world come at you faster than you can keep up. Many of us seem to have it in our natures consistently to entangle ourselves in more than we have the ability to handle. We book ourselves in back to back meetings all day, go to after-hours events and generate ideas and commitments we need to deal with, and get embroiled in engagements and projects that have the potential to spin our creative intelligence into cosmic orbits. The whirlwind of of activity is precisely what makes the Weekly Review so valuable. It builds in some capturing, reevaluation, and reprocessing time to keep you in balance. There is simply no way to do this necessary regrouping while you’re trying to get everyday work done (pp. 184–185).
I usually do my weekly review at home on Sunday night. By this time, I am usually refreshed and have some perspective. I also like doing it at home because I eliminate most of the distractions that keep me from truly getting my head above the fray at work.
I schedule two hours for my Weekly Review. It rarely takes this long, but I like to have the time blocked off in my schedule. I find if I don’t schedule it, it’s easy to avoid this activity or schedule something else in this slot.
What do I do during this time? Here’s the “agenda” for my meeting with myself. This is modified from David Allen’s list:
- Gather all loose papers and process. I empty everything out of my briefcase, my inbox, and my wallet. I then go through each piece of paper and make a decision what to do with it. Following David’s model, I first decide if it is something that requires me to take action. If not, I have three options. I can:
- Trash it;
- Add it to my Someday/Maybe list; or
- File it for future reference.
If the item requires me to take action, I can:
- Do it if it takes less than two minutes or add it to my Entourage (or Outlook if you use Windows) task list to do later;
- Defer it by actually scheduling a time on my calendar to deal with it; or
- Delegate it to someone else for action and enter it into my Entourage (or Outlook) task list using the “@WaitingFor” category.
David Allen has a few other items on his agenda (see pp. 185–187) but these are the ones that I find most helpful.