Do you want to feel on top of your work? Then it’s crucial to review your tasks and clear up the mess in your productivity system at least once a week. In other words: you need a weekly review habit.
The problem is it’s painfully dull. Usually, we get excited by new things. But a weekly review is all about checking out old stuff, acknowledging the mess, and clearing it up.
That’s why it’s usually the last thing you want to do out of all your tasks. Fortunately, you can find the courage to do it consistently if you have a supporting person at your side.
Let’s see how…
What is a weekly review?
But first, what is a weekly review? The term comes from the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. The goal of a weekly review is to find some time each week to clear the mess in your productivity system.
Clean up, close up, clarify, and renegotiate all your agreements with yourself and others. I suggest that you do this weekly instead of yearly — David Allen
This review can include various things, such as:
- Grooming your task lists
- Adding missing events in your calendar
- Setting new goals
- Identifying the lessons you learned this week
- Ensuring you have proper paper supplies
Why you need to do a weekly review
The main benefit of the weekly review is to have a clear picture of what you need to do and when.
It’s a naive idea to think that your productivity system can stay ordered at all times. Sometimes, you rush to do things, and your system degrades.
Things fall apart, even when you think they’re stronger than anything you could ever imagine. ― Susane Colasanti
For example, things get scattered throughout your house if you start writing tasks on post-its instead of your usual todo-list. Or you may fall into the same traps again and again because you are too busy to take a step back from what you’re doing and address the underlying cause.
The weekly review gives you this breath of fresh air you need to sort this out. It makes you able to anticipate the upcoming risks and opportunities better. You are no longer stuck in a firefighter mode. You now see things coming from a mile away. And it’s incredibly satisfying!
Finding the discipline to do your weekly review
Unfortunately, doing a weekly review is not that fun. Just like doing the washing up, sweeping the floors, and washing your clothes, it’s very repetitive.
It can also be disheartening since you will need to face your failures. For example, you might wonder why you still did not take action on a resolution that is dear to you. And it can be mentally draining as you struggle to clarify, prioritize and schedule confusing tasks.
In the end, it’s easy to avoid doing your weekly review because it requires effort and does not make you feel that great … at least until it is finished!
I certainly felt that way many times. But I found a helpful trick to avoid that fate. In short, you need to find someone willing to support you. And this makes your weekly reviews unshakeable.
Here are three ways to do it…
1) Body doubling
This solution is the lowest hanging fruit if you are a beginner. Body doubling simply means doing a task in the presence of another person. This is a classic for students doing their homework. Having someone see you working gives you more courage to do your challenging task.
You can do body doubling in person, with a friend or co-worker at a table in a coffee shop. Or you can do body doubling virtually by setting up a virtual meeting.
The second option is, of course more flexible. This typically involves setting up a one-hour-long meeting. In the beginning, you each talk briefly about what you are going to accomplish. Then you each work separately on your challenging task. Then, just 5 minutes before the end of the session, you stop and talk about what you managed to do.
You can even practice with a complete stranger. If you want to give it a try, head over to focusmate.com. Just choose the time slot where you want to set up the meeting. Then, FocusMate will pair you up automatically with someone motivated to do a body doubling session.
Personally, I also do weekly reviews with my mentor at work. This option is popular these days. When you join a company, you are usually paired up with a more experienced person that can act as your mentor.
This person’s role is to assist you with the different challenges you face, and it usually involves a weekly check-in meeting.
During this session, you talk about what you have done, the lessons you learned, and your goals for the coming week. Personally, I like to capture my lessons learned in a note-taking app such as LogSeq.
Oftentimes, this type of meeting requires a bit of preparation. You need to identify the issues you want to talk about with your mentor in advance to save time.
So I recommend setting a meeting with yourself before the check-in call. Or you can use a separate body doubling session for that purpose.
3) Accountability partners
Here’s another great option, especially for personal projects. The idea is to get yourself an accountability partner and do a weekly check-in with her. Just like the other two options we’ve seen above, you can do it in person or virtually.
Personally, I’ve done both. Meeting in person is more rewarding in terms of human touch. But virtual meetings also do the job, and they are more convenient.
How to do accountability check-ins? Well, you just organize a weekly meeting with your partner for 1 hour or 1 hour and a half. Then slice this time slot in two. Half of that time will be dedicated to helping your friend review her week. The other half will be dedicated to doing your own review, while your friend supports you.
In particular, you will want to:
- Celebrate what has been done
- Take note of the lessons you learned
- And plan the upcoming week
If you have enough time, you can also speak about your sticking points. Your partner will be useful here because they can provide an external view of the problem, which can help you see the problem in a different light.
At the end of the meeting, you can also speak about how you felt about the meeting. Was it helpful? Anything to improve? This will ensure you avoid misunderstanding your partner.
This type of check-in is perfect to give you the courage to do your weekly review. In my experience, when you do this, you always feel uplifted and ready to tackle the most strenuous tasks!
Of course, just as for a mentor, you might like to compliment this with a bit of solitary work on your productivity system, or even during a body doubling meeting.
As you will see, the accountability of your partner will get you a long way into doing your weekly review consistently.
Today we’ve covered a lot of ground. You’ve learned what a weekly review is and how it gives you a crystal clear picture of your work. And you’ve learned why it’s hard to do it consistently.
Fortunately, you can count on the energizing effect of accountability to nudge you into doing it. I’ve given you three ways of putting this into practice in various situations.
As a result, you will have a crystal clear view of your work, avoid many traps along your way, and feel a powerful serenity and confidence in your day-to-day job. You’ll be so thankful you nailed it!