What will I do this week?
Take the pulse of every active project for clarity and ease.
The feeling I had when I first entered my office was gone. Ninety minutes earlier, when I sat down at my desk first thing on Monday morning, I was vaguely confused and apprehensive about all the things I had to do in the week ahead of me.
After my Weekly Review, I felt calm, serene even, as I looked at the tidy blocks on my calendar and the organized lists of projects that were deemed worthy of my attention this week.
For a long time, I had assumed that disorientation and stress was a natural part of working at a job, running a household, and having a life.
Multitasking many things in life is difficult, and confusing, and it made sense that it would make me mildly stressed all the time.
Except...there are people who don't seem to be stressed all the time. People who manage many more projects, people, resources, even more kids, but didn't have a frantic overtone of mild panic on everything they did and said.
At any given time, most people have over one hundred projects active in their lives, says David Allen, author of Getting Things Done.
When we don't know what the next action is for a particular project, our brain doesn't want to focus on it. We ignore thinking about it, which causes us stress and anxiety.
It only takes a couple of projects to be poorly defined, and you develop a nagging feeling that you're not getting everything done. When you don't even know about everything you're supposed to know about, you get stressed.
The Weekly Review can cure this malaise by giving you a dedicated time to think about everything you are supposed to think about. You can then prioritize what is most important for you, right now, and decide what specifically needs to be done in each project in your work and life.
The reason why so many people have become acolytes of David Allen's organizational philosophy (known to productivity geeks as GTD) is because when you gain this peculiar clarity, it makes you more creative and effective.
When you know everything you need to know, you can act on what is right in front of you without feeling like you are ignoring something unknown and important. The release from that curse is the best reason to do a Weekly Review.
The simplest and purest form of a Weekly Review is making a list of every project that you have going on in your life right now.
Just reviewing a list of every open project once a week is very calming to your nerves. It tells your subconscious mind that you know what's going on.
It's when you don't have a clear understanding of everything (absolutely everything) going on in your life that you begin to get stressed and confused.
Take the pulse of every active project in your life once a week for clarity and ease.
When I start my Weekly Review on Monday morning, these are the things I do:
- Decide on my 3 most important projects for the week - If I have discretion to work on something for an extra hour or so, it is one of these 3 projects that will get priority. I write these three project titles on a small chalkboard in my office, so if I catch myself looking around for something to do next, I know instantly what I should be working on.
- Write down my Wins - when I list my victories from the week before, I am always surprised that there are more than I thought, and giving myself a bump of celebration puts me in a good mood.
- Write down my Challenges - anything that gave me difficulty or friction the week before gets put on a list and reviewed with my Mastermind group. If something shows up in this list week after week, it alerts me to the need to make some changes.
- Write down my Commitments - anything I want to commit to doing for the week gets written down. I also review last week's commitments, and bring this list to my mastermind group for accountability.
- Read every list - every project in my task manager (which is Things, by Cultured Code, if you're a GTD geek too) has a list with every next action and a list of upcoming actions. I review these lists every week, and if I have time, I re-prioritize every list based on what's urgent and effective. At the very least, I just read every list.
- Schedule my week - I use iCal to block out periods of time to work on the projects I need to schedule, and make sure all the in-person events, meetings, and calls that I have scheduled do not conflict, and are confirmed if necessary.
- Review Quarterly, Monthly, and Annual Lists - I'll get into what these are in the next issue. Stay tuned!
“Go as far as you can see. When you get there, you'll be able to see further.”
- Zig Ziglar