The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Joe Buhlig makes some good points about using GTD in this post. As someone who’s followed the basic principles for a long time, he knows where he struggles to be consistent in the process. I definitely get where he’s coming from as I have my points where I could always use some improvement.

This caught my eye in particular:

It’s one thing to collect items on a someday/maybe list. It’s another to put them to work. I can capture ideas all day long every day of the week. But incubating them, curating them, and activating them is work in itself.

Amen to that. This also makes it harder to do a thorough weekly review — you have a list of projects/areas with tasks that you don’t have any firm intention of doing anytime soon. That friction makes it hard to review everything.

And another point that grabbed me:

In the case of GTD, we often think about this through the lens of contexts, a set of tools or periods when we work on certain lists. And a common misunderstanding here is working from these contexts “when you find yourself in that context.” I’m sorry, but I don’t “find myself” anywhere by accident. Even if that is the way life worked, I’m pretty sure that working from lists whenever you accidentally end up in a context wouldn’t allow you to complete the tasks you need to complete each day.

Instead, you have to choose to put yourself in those contexts. And I have found that the best way to do that is by scheduling time for different projects and contexts throughout the week. You see this concept employed in a lot of ways: time-blocking, daily themes, yearly themes, tasks on a calendar, etc… Choose the method that works for you, but don’t expect the contexts to magically appear and the work to complete itself when that happens.

For me, this issue is less about contexts and more about roles or areas of responsibility. If I don’t purposefully schedule time for home maintenance or certain tasks for my role as director of IT at our church, those things will always take a back seat to my roles that get a higher priority. Over time, that results in guilt or increased stress for those roles as the feeling if I should starts to build.

This is where Matt Perman’s weekly routine or Mike Vardy’s themed days can help.