So, OK folks, this may seem like more hokey stuff-I-should-do-but-never-do stuff. Honestly, this is what I do to keep myself sane and in control. This is not theoretical or out of some book. This is literally, blow-by-blow, what I do at least once a week. It is the one factor upon which your success with Mind Like Water technology hinges. Do it, it lives and grows. Don’t do it, it dies. If you don’t yet have this habit, then I recommend that you insert into your calendar for the next four Friday’s — “do weekly review.”
I don’t know how I survived without doing weekly reviews until now.
~ Lesley Lang (just something she said in the car last week in a moment of clarity and vulnerability)
I have longed talked about Lesley (and direct reports and coaching clients and anyone who will listen) about how important my weekly review is to me. It is definitely one of my anchor habits that enables me to feel like I am surfing above the chaos of daily life vs. feeling underwater.
I’d like to share what is currently working for me. Then I want you (yes, dear reader, you) to implement at least a portion of this practice into your weekly routines.
When do you review?
David Allen recommends Friday afternoon: “A great time to do it is early Friday afternoon, as it will invariably surface small actions which could get completed if you can catch people still at work.” Eh, Friday afternoon just doesn’t work for me personally. Being the morning person that I am, I don’t think I have the mental capacity or will-power to make the proper decisions regarding next actions in an afternoon session. (I’ve also heard folks — including Michael Hyatt — who prefer Sunday afternoons/evenings).
For years, I had Friday mornings blocked off for weekly review time. However, in the past 6–12 months, I’ve shifted my review time to Sunday morning. Lesley and I both wake up early-ish (usually not 4 AM early, but before the kids rise), go to our respective desks with our respective tea and coffee and individually perform a weekly review. Following the individual reviews — which on average take 30–60 minutes depending on how well I’ve stayed on top of my inboxes through the week — we have our Family Business Meeting (when next actions and schedules and Weekly Big 3’s are fresh on our minds).
How do you review?
I thought I might just share my current template for a weekly review. The current version is an amalgamation of GTD’s and the Full Focus Planner’s recommended steps (along with personal checklist items I’ve added through the years).
Prepare for Review
The first few steps simply put me in the right frame of mind for performing a review.
- Start: a Freedom session to block distractions
- Evaluate: got everything you need?
Full Focus Planner
Pause and Celebrate
Too often high achievers only focus on negative aspects of their life — and I’m no different. I like that the first section of the Weekly Review page spread in the Full Focus Planner focuses on wins for the week. Looking back on the week and putting down what I accomplished not only feels good, but puts me in a state to want to prepare and accomplish more for the coming week.
- Complete: Biggest wins in Full Focus Planner
Even with the best of intentions to perform (many?) mini daily reviews, tasks/thoughts/questions/ideas are sure to gather in the many inboxes of my life. I’ll go through each piece of material (physical or digital — i.e. — a bill in my inbox or an email) and ask myself a few questions:
The steps in my Get Clear portion are very specific to certain professional and personal apps and inboxes I use. . . tweak as you see fit (I certainly have through the years). Everything cascades down to my task manager, which is why I have that as the last item.
- Process: backpack (gather loose papers)
- Process: physical inbox
- Process: email inbox
- Process: my JIRA tasks
- Process: Action folder in iCloud Documents
- Review: My Tasks — Dropbox Paper
- Process: Asana inbox
- Process: OmniFocus inbox
Here I’ll do one last review of the past week — calendar events, my Weekly Big 3, etc. — and really prep for the upcoming week. Though the checklist item references the Full Focus Planner, this step has a lot of going back and forth from the planner to the computer (calendar + task manager). . . which I don’t mind at all! I am really digging this hybrid approach to my productivity.
- Complete: Full Focus Planner Weekly Review
Review: deferred tasks (anything in the future coming up that needs my attention?)
Review: delegated tasks
Review: my notes (did I appropriately capture all of my handwritten notes throughout the week?)
Review: my goals
Review: major projects
Review: upcoming calendar (and previous week)
- After Action Review
Review prior Weekly Big 3. How far did I get?
Were there any lessons to be learned? Would I do anything differently or better?
How will I adjust my behavior moving forward?
- New Weekly Big 3
What must I accomplish this coming week to reach my goals?
We’re almost done! The final portion simply puts a bow on the week (and puts my mind in a state of gratitude).
- Review: Someday/Maybe lists
- Check-in: with family on how week was
- Write: thank you note
Clearing out my mind (and my inboxes) and getting clarity on the upcoming week allows me to be a more present husband and father. Further, completing a Weekly Review properly sets me up to have a great and productive Family Business Meeting with Lesley (to discuss upcoming schedule, family priorities, etc.). . . which in turn allows us to have a great and productive Family Meeting with the kids.
My hope is that you see the incredible value a weekly review brings to my life and what it can bring to yours? I understand that the checklist of items I go through can seem daunting (and time-consuming), but I’ve been practicing this for years. Like I mentioned earlier, my hope is that you can glean bits and pieces from my example to begin to craft your own weekly review practice.