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
- Set a time. Set an appointment in your calendar for your review. Do not break this appointment without good cause.
- 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.
- 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.
- What are three things I completed? How do they make me feel?
- How could I have made a difference choice today to finish another task?
- 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.