how to review, part one

I began to review my days and weeks long before I felt comfortable with planning. I started with just before end of day reviews. Why? Before I took on this practice I would often have difficulty falling asleep and wake up in a panic at some point during the night. By pausing before my day was over to evaluate, I could do two things. First I was able to evaluate potential deadline issues before they crossed the line. Second, I could also find something I had done that day to help me to end on a positive note. GTD reviews can be lengthy, I believe that while that’s an ideal, they don’t have to be.

Start small. This is a new habit you are about to undertake. If you can block off two hours, brilliant. I think, however, that it will be too much and you should start smaller so you set yourself up for success instead of frustration.

Three Steps for a Successful Review

  1. Set a time. Set an appointment in your calendar for your review. Do not break this appointment without good cause.
  2. Close out distractions. While you may need to rely on technology to identify what you did, resist the temptations of social media and other internet lures.
  3. Create a reward. Find a small incentive to entice you to do the review. Maybe it’s to check social media guilt-free for 15 minutes. I like to reward myself with spinning a special fiber or spending 15 minutes knitting on a personal project.

What do I actually do as I review? I have a checklist that I follow that’s detailed and focused. There are some suggested checklists in the additional resources below. When I began reviewing regularly I didn’t follow a checklist as I found them initimidating. Instead I merged part of the concept of morning pages (from The Artists Way) to the concept of reviewing and tried to answer a few simple questions. These helped me look at the bigger picture before I was ready to focus on the details and perform an actionable review.

  1. What are three things I completed? How do they make me feel?
  2. How could I have made a difference choice today to finish another task?
  3. Identify one thing I wanted to work on that I didn’t. Why?

Scribbling my answers to these questions in a notebook would take me about fifteen minutes most days. I found that time commitment manageable and slowly I took on more of the traditional GTD review.

Additional Resources