The start of a new year brings with it the chance to review and refine our routines.
Of course, you can do this at any point throughout the year but there’s something about seeing January 1st on the calendar that motivates us to reflect and optimize our routines.
One of the things on my agenda was to restart my weekly review process which I did this week.
Those of you that have read Getting Things Done will be familiar with this concept. In fact, I’m re-reading this book as we speak which is why I have renewed motivation to pick this habit back up.
When I first read this book last year, I quickly saw the merit of the weekly review and incorporated it into my personal and professional life.
Over the last number of weeks, however, this process has fallen by the wayside.
I can’t pinpoint the exact reasons for my abandoning this process but I can certainly see my productivity and efficiency suffering as a result.
The Case For A Weekly Review Process
If you’re not very familiar with the concept of the weekly review then you’re in for a productivity treat.
The weekly review process is basically where you sit down at a set time each week to review how the past week has gone and then plan out the week ahead.
I typically do this on Friday afternoons before I shut down work for the day.
This way I can be sure I’ve planned out everything for next week so I can relax over the weekend.
This process might seem simple in practice but it’s amazing to realize how well this can prime your mind for determining where you can improve and planning how the next week will look.
The concept of a weekly review touches upon the concept of continued reflection which is mentioned in The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll.
Here is a particularly great quote from the book that illustrates the benefit of reflection:
“If we forfeit the opportunity to learn from our experiences, as the saying (sort of) goes, we condemn ourselves to repeat our mistakes.”The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll (p59)
By checking in each week, you’ll build up the routine of reflecting on your work and determining how you can improve it.
For instance, if you’re working towards a goal of building a consistent writing habit, then this is your chance to look back over the last week to see how well you’re working towards that goal.
If things aren’t going well, this is your chance to ask the question “why is this not going well?”.
This will give you the mental space to come up with a possible solution that you can try next week.
For example, one reason you might not be keeping up with your consistent writing habit is that the time you’ve picked doesn’t work for you.
Maybe your brain isn’t awake yet at 8 am when you’ve just woken up so you tend to put off writing and then never get around to it.
For the next week, you could try moving your dedicated writing time to a little later in the morning or whenever your Biological Prime Time is.
How Reflection Improves Productivity
From reading a lot of books and articles related to the topic of productivity over the last year, a concept has emerged that has stuck with me.
That is the idea of Plan, Do, Check, Act:
- Plan on doing something: like writing every day
- Do the thing: write every day
- Check-in on how you are progressing with your task (during your weekly review)
- Act by adapting what you’ve learned to make the process better going forward
Some of you may recognize this process as the concept of Kaizen which means continual small improvements over time.
This concept is at the heart of The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey where the author underwent a year of productivity experiments to put “productivity hacks” to the test.
With all that being said, by reflecting on what you’re doing during a weekly review, you are learning from your achievements and from your mistakes to improve what you do with your work and your life.
How I Setup My Weekly Review
After spending some time reviewing and optimizing my weekly review process recently, here’s how I conduct my weekly reviews:
- I have a weekly reminder in Todoist that notifies me at 4:30 pm on Fridays to start my weekly review. Todoist is the app I am currently using to manage my tasks.
- I then jump over into Notion and create a new weekly review entry. I have a template set up that contains all the necessary prompts and checklists I need and this saves me a lot of time each week.
- If you’d like to try this Notion template for yourself you can find it for free here: Free Notion Templates Pack.
- I have a short checklist before I start the weekly review that allows me to clean up my inboxes and get things in order:
- Clear Desk space
- Zero Todoist, Email Inbox, Notion Inbox
- Review last week’s entry
- Review daily reflections
- Here is where my weekly review process truly starts. I ask myself the following questions:
- What went well this week?
- What should I start doing?
- What should I stop doing?
- What should I continue doing?
- Since reading Show Your Work by Austin Kleon, I’ve been documenting the work I do each week.
- This allows me to reflect on the work I’ve done which can help unlock new ideas to share with others.
- Not to mention this is great for when my annual review comes around in work and I can easily talk about all the projects I’ve worked on throughout the year.
- Now that I’ve reflected on the last week, it’s time to plan for the next week.
- I start by scheduling any appointments or calls into my calendar.
- I then schedule any relevant tasks for the next week using Todoist. A lot of my work now can be set to recurring tasks so I find that each week isn’t totally different from the last one.
- Once I’ve completed my weekly review process, it’s time to shut down work for the day.
- I step through my shut down routine which tells my brain work is finished for the day, and to go and do other things.
- This is a great way to switch off from work as it creates a clear separation in your mind.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and making it all the way to the end.
If you found some value in what I’ve talked about, please consider sharing it on social media. It will help others to find it and that will help me out.
If you’re interested in being on my mailing list you can sign up right now and receive a pack of free Notion templates which includes my template for a weekly review process.
Just go to my Notion Templates page and sign up there.
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