Step 8: Review your system regularly
Step 8 is about reviewing your recently set up productivity system. At least once a week you need to have a meeting with yourself and review your tasks, projects, lists and goals. Learn to start your next week fresh!
Welcome to Step 8 of our “10-steps to Ultimate Productivity Course”. Here we’ll make you schedule 1-2 hours a week for a meeting with yourself to review your productivity system. Trust me, it’s a very important meeting.
So you have mastered the previous 7 lessons of our course. You know how to clear your head, organize tasks into projects, define next actions, work from anywhere and with anyone… and use contexts and reference material.
That’s great. But even if you’ve done all that and you feel like a Superhuman, you still might fall off that wagon very quickly… if you don’t review it all regularly.
Review in GTD
Productivity experts suggest you should schedule a regular, weekly meeting with yourself to review everything you’ve done and everything you’re set out to do.
David Allen of GTD fame calls it a “Weekly Review” and he says it’s the moment when he thinks ahead for a week… and he knows, he’ll think again in a week or so… and he basically does stuff without thinking in between.
He’s exaggerating but this weekly reunion with yourself is the key to a successful productivity system. This is where we cement our commitment to getting tasks done.
It’s hard to keep this habit though. We’re constantly busy and our time is in demand by many people. We hardly find 2 hours (and that’s usually what it takes) to review our productivity system.
I sometimes fail at this myself. I sometimes decide “I know what I have to do more-less” so I skip my Weekly Meeting with myself. And I shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t either.
I heard someone say at a conference I was attending that a “Weekly Review must be done at least once a month” and it may sound funny, but this is the maximum length of time you can allow yourself to go. More than a month and you’re off the wagon.
First of all, make it a “scheduled meeting” and block off these two hours in your calendar every week. You can do it either on Friday or Monday … or weekend. Just make it happen. It’s just two hours (and very often even less than that).
Here’s how my Weekly Review meeting looks in a nutshell: First I calm myself down (I’m Catholic so I pray for 5 minutes and thank the Lord for my wonderful life).
I clear all my physical inboxes — the one near my desk, the one in Nozbe, my email inbox (if it’s not at zero at this moment), and any other incoming materials that I haven’t processed.
I review my “strategy mind map” — I use mind mapping software to outline my “strategy” and my long term goals. I review those and see how I’ve performed.
I never put actionable items in my Mind Map — I focus on goals there and make relevant projects in Nozbe where I put my tasks and other specifics.
I review all of my projects in Nozbe — all of them — I click on them one-by-one and check the tasks there, reschedule, modify or remove them… or rearrange them to other projects.
Reviewing all of my projects takes a while (and I have around 50 at the moment) but it makes sure my system is current. Nozbe is a tool I use every day, it needs to be clean and ready, just like the rifle of a soldier.
I go back to my Mind map and check if I should add some projects or tasks to Nozbe, I set up my next actions for the week and add necessary comments to them if needed.
With all that in place, I pray again and thank the Lord for a great week and ask him for wisdom for the next week. If you’re not a religious person, just meditate or listen to your favorite music.
That’s it. The key is to do it consistently. To do it every week (or every other week — but no less than every month). This is a regular meeting with yourself. You need it.
Just like we meet with other people, we need to meet with ourselves and review our productivity system on a regular basis to make sure it’s current, ready and very, very actionable. Good luck.