The GTD Weekly Review
Since adopting GTD, I conduct the weekly review religiously and I am probably at the point where I worry if I miss one (as the book predicts).
I have it set as an appointment blocked out in my schedule each Friday morning. I either do it at home where I have less distractions or in the office which is normally quieter on Fridays. I find doing it then gives a way of wrapping the week up and preparing for the next week and there is still time left during Friday to chase things up if I need to.
Like Michael Hyatt, I basically use the recommended categories but have tweaked one or two since I started to suit how I work more precisely. I have a one page default checklist that I print and fill in, which firstly reminds me of the sections to cover in the review (notes, past calendar, next week’s calendar, checklists, projects lists etc.) and then which I fill in with each item as I capture and process items and decide whether I do them, defer them, delegate them, put them in calendar or someday/maybe etc. or if they are a new project in their own right.
My two main tools are Outlook and Evernote ,which gives full visibility at PC, on BlackBerry, on iPad and so on.
I usually find I identify up to a dozen items that fall into the two minute rule and I can rattle off some e-mails on them during the review, to progress or chase items and that certainly makes me feel that I have achieved something by the end of the review.
Doing it on Friday morning also means I have the rest of that day before the week officially ends to follow up on more significant matters.
On a daily (or more frequent) basis I am checking my next actions list, calendar and projects list.
The GTD Monthly Review
So here is how I do mine. I usually do this 11 months out of 12 each year.
I have a reminder set in my calendar at the beginning of each month. That doesn’t mean I do it as soon as the reminder comes up but I don’t dismiss it until I have found time for the review. That might be at home or hot desking in a quiet spot at head office, when there are fewer distractions and I can give it an hour or so to concentrate.
Having covered horizons of focus “runway” and “10,000 feet” during my weekly review and day to day, the monthly review covers “20,000 feet” to “50,000 feet”. I have found that these correspond quite well to a number of areas or even key documents I already have relating to my job:
50,000 – Life or Ultimate job description. This is my company’s and my departments OGSMs (Google OGSM if you have not come across the concept)
40,000 – 3-5 year vision. This is my 5 year plan for organisation development and budgets.
30,000 – 1-2 year goals. This is my Individual Development Plan.
20,000 – areas of responsibility. This is my annual performance contract.
I have a folder in my system called monthly review and that contains short cuts to all these documents to speed things up each month.
I review each in turn and capture thoughts and actions as a go through each of these documents, that can become discrete projects or simply next actions or perhaps someday/maybes in my GTD system; to pick up in the weekly reviews. There will be things contained in these documents that I don’t action or progress at the time of a particular review but again I have the peace of mind that I know they are contained there and will get brought to the front of my mind in a month’s time, even if I have not taken any action on them this month.
Also the fact that I am refreshing these in my mind each month often means later on in the next week or so that something else will happen and suddenly they do become relevant in someway but only because they are fresher in my mind and I make a connection or perhaps I will think about them more during a long journey or at some other quiet and productive time and ideas will form or a moment of clarity will occur.
Not doing this review each month would mean some items would be forgotten most of the time and there would be little chance they would progress as a result, in which case they may as well not be there at all.
In David Allen’s book he actually calls this the Bigger Picture review at the end of Chapter 8 but it gets little coverage and he doesn’t actually set a time frame but, like me, many seem to have adopted a monthly timeframe.