8 Tips After 800 GTD Weekly Reviews

05/22/2020 by Jason Atwood
After 15 years of practicing Getting Things Done (GTD®) here are eight tips after the subsequent 800 Weekly Reviews.

For those of you new to GTD or who want to learn about the weekly Review, you can start your journey by reading the book by David Allen, listening to our episode on it, reading about my weekly review or listening to it.

Eight hundred? Really? Yes, I have been doing a very consistent weekly review for as long as I can remember. I bought and read the book in 2004 so I gave myself a full year to get into the groove of doing a weekly review and with a little back of the napkin math I came up with Saturday, May 16th was my 800th weekly review. 

Since everyone loves a numbered list and one hundred divides into eight hundred rather nicely, here are my eight weekly review tips after doing it eight hundred times.

1: Set a Flexible Time

For the first 10 years or so, I had the Weekly Review scheduled in my calendar but as the years went on, and I really trusted my trusted system in OmniFocus, I shifted from a time block to a flexible time. If you follow me on Twitter (@JasonMAtwood) you know that I tweet during my weekly review and that is most often on Saturday morning. For me, the week is done, I can clear the decks and give it the attention it deserves. Sometimes early, sometimes later in the day and sometimes on Sundays, it is flexible as long as it gets done. 

2: Start Early

This tip goes really well if you started to use the first tip of doing the weekly review on a flexible schedule. For me, this means that my weekly review project activates on Thursday afternoon. This gives me a chance to start early, knock a few things off the list whether that be on late Thursday or throughout the day on Friday. While I typically don’t start my weekly review in earnest until Saturday, this gives me the option if I am traveling or have a light day. It always feels good to check a few things off the list in advance. 

3: Build It Into Your System

This one might seem very very obvious but it shouldn’t be ignored. Your weekly review should be in your trusted system. That might be a repeating project, task, scheduled event in your calendar. Whatever tool you are using to capture all your “stuff” make sure the weekly review is in there. For me, this is a weekly repeating project in OmniFocus that not only lists out all the steps of my personalized weekly review but includes key commands to make it as easy as possible. Is your weekly review not in your trusted system? Why not?

4: Have a Short Version

In golf, you work on your “short game”, in GTD you can work on your short weekly review. Weekly reviews come in all shapes and sizes, some are long and thoughtful, others are short and sweet. Make sure to have a short version of your weekly review, covering the basics so if you get in a time-crunch you at least can cover the most important parts. For me, that is getting my inboxes to zero and reviewing my calendar. Also, if you can’t get to something in your weekly review, do the GTD thing and capture it to do later, or next week. 

5: Break It Up

Another way to handle the lack of time is to break up your weekly review into different parts or areas of focus. Maybe you do your work weekly review on Friday mornings and do your home weekly review on Sundays. Maybe you can get your inbox to zero on Friday afternoon, but hold off on the reviewing of lists until the weekend. Breaking up is never easy, unless it is breaking up your weekly review. 

6: Reward Yourself

As Charles Duhigg explains in The Power of Habit, good habits stick longer if you cap them with a reward. At the GTD Summit last year he talked of rewarding himself with a nice piece of chocolate after his weekly review. If your weekly review isn’t rewarding enough, make the last step a reward, a gift, something special to make sure you build that mental muscle. A spoon full of sugar, and all...

7: Make It Social

When coaching people on GTD and productivity I usually break things down into internal and external commitments. Getting the weekly review to stick is sometimes as easy and turning it from an internal commitment into an external one. More than a few Arkies (what we call people at Arkus) tweet when they are doing their weekly review as a way of providing transparency and accountability as well as getting that social encouragement. Share your weekly review, it doesn’t have to be a secret. 

8: Change It Up

The last of a long list of tips is to make sure your weekly review doesn’t get too stagnant. Your life, responsibilities, roles, and areas of accountability are constantly changing so why shouldn’t your weekly review? Got a new “inbox?” Add it to your weekly review. No longer have that role at the organization? Remove that check from your weekly review. 

How many weekly reviews have you done? Got tips and tricks? Share them with me @JasonMAtwood or in the Trailblazer Success GTD community group.