The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

The Power of the Weekly Review

This might be odd - but the name I chose for this site is something I struggle with every week (editor's note: this post was from my first blog, titled The Weekly Review). I know how important it is to sit back and review what I have and haven't done for the past seven days. Even more, I know it is critical to look back and evaluate whether or not my goals are still the same. And to examine my actions - for they will have proven what my true goals are.

I know it. And yet I struggle.

The Weekly Review

How many of us could benefit from this kind of reflection for even just one hour each week? In today's typical North American lifestyle, items vying for our attention greatly outweigh our ability to do something useful with so much information. We have become information intakes, rapidly accepting input, but seem to have lost some of our ability to produce quality output.

I've heard it said that the successful people in this century will be those who can, not digest information, but who can filter information.

In this type of atmosphere, I think a weekly review can be a helpful tool. And I'd like to explain how.

Let's start first with the definition a weekly review. According to Wikipedia, here is the GTD definition of a weekly review:

At least weekly, the discipline of GTD requires that all your outstanding actions, projects and 'waiting for' items are reviewed, making sure that any new tasks or forthcoming events are entered into your system, and that everything is up to date.

So that's the official GTD take on this idea. But what I am stressing here is the concept. You can call it whatever you want - a weekly review, a 10 day review, reflection time. The name doesn't matter. What does matter is that time is taken to review what has come at you, what you have done with what has come at you, and what you may have missed.

But it's not easy.

Reality - It's a Struggle

Visit a website that focuses on GTD and you will find no shortage of people who struggle with this concept. Why do we have such a hard time with this? I really believe a big factor is the times we live in. We have a lot of distractions things to do with our time that folks in the past did not.

Here are some other common reasons why people struggle with this:

  • You have more information coming at you than you can deal with.
  • For GTDers, your 'system' isn't working. You have no confidence in it.
  • You simply have not made this time enough of a priority. You don't 'schedule' it in.
  • You are lazy. It's okay - we all are at times.

Most of us can relate to one of these. And there are probably more. Whatever the reason, how can we improve on this?

Make it a Habit

Why? Habitual actions take less energy and planning. How much time, energy and planning do you put into brushing your teeth or getting dressed? Habits can generally be completed while your mind is on something else. In this case, making a review a habit allows your mind to focus on your goals themselves.

And how do you form a habit? One word - repetition. Here are a few suggestions to make your weekly review a habit:

  • Findmake a quiet place.
  • Put it in your calendar. Book a time for this review and keep it there. Repeat this for several weeks.

That's it. If you can discipline yourself to complete the above steps for 5 or 6 weeks, you should see the benefits. And it will begin to feel good and you will start to look forward to it.

We All Do It Anyways

Almost everyone but the schizophrenics do some type of review every week, if unconsciously. But there is benefit to making it a bit more formal and habitual.

I love GTD and it's ideas. But the weekly review goes beyond GTD. It's not important to your career only. What about at home? What about your significant other? Your children? And if you are spiritual, what about your relationship with God?

What areas can benefit from a weekly review? A better question - what areas can't?

It's clear to me that in this age of free and fast flowing information, seeking quiet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Make it a habit.

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