This is the first in a 2-part series about how I plan my week and how my week actually played out. Stay tuned for part 2 coming next week…
In August 2015 I wrote about how I conduct a weekly review. As it’s now almost 4 years later, I thought it was about time I write an updated post on my current weekly review. And this time, you can watch me conduct an actual weekly review in real time.
Don’t want to read this post, listen to the podcast instead:
This episode of the Paul Minors Podcast is sponsored by TextExpander.
Join me on an over the shoulder look at my weekly review process:
What’s the point in a weekly review?
If you’ve never conducted a weekly review before, or if you’ve heard of this term but you're not sure what it’s all about, let me clarify for you.
The weekly review is a process you follow at the end of each week to reflect on your progress, review the status of your projects and plan the upcoming week(s).
Some books, like Getting Things Done, do a great job of outlining a detailed checklist to follow each week. I’ve designed my own weekly review to fit my preferences and personal workflow.
Regardless of how you conduct your weekly review, what you’re really trying to do is take an opportunity to zoom out and plan your upcoming week. If you're anything like me, most of the week you have your head down and you’re working hard (this is what I call being “in the trenches”). The weekly review is your opportunity to lift your head and take a breath so you can review your progress and plan ahead.Not doing a weekly review is like a swimmer never looking up to see where they're headingClick To Tweet
My weekly review process
My weekly review takes place on a Friday afternoon. I make it the last thing I do each week as it’s a really nice way to close out a week of work. It also means I can go into the weekend and start the new week nice and relaxed knowing that I’ve planned the upcoming week.
I have a recurring 15-minute block of time on my calendar to do my review each week. If you don’t schedule your review (or have some kind of reminder), it’s far less likely to be a consistent habit. I’m proud to say that I’ve completed a weekly review without fail for about 6-7 years.
In my previous weekly review post, I talk about starting my review by completing a journal entry. While I think this is a very useful exercise to go through, I no longer do this on a weekly basis. For me, journaling is something I do whenever I feel they need to write down my thoughts. Rather than committing to a schedule where I sometimes feel like I have to force the words, I prefer to journal on a more irregular basis (but that’s just me). If you want to journal as part of your weekly review, go for it!
While I don’t journal, I will update my project progress in Asana. Long-time readers will know that Asana is one of the core tools in my productivity system (you can learn more about this system in my Productivity Blueprint and Personal Productivity Toolkit). When updating the progress of a project, you can set the status (“On Track”, “At Rick” and “Off Track”) and write a few sentences about how the project is going. This is a nice little thought exercise that gets you thinking about what’s going well and how to make progress from here.
Next, we get into the real nitty-gritty part of my review; planning tasks.
My task management philosophy is that if you have something to do, you should create a task for it. This way, you can see all your tasks in one place without having to switch between tools or hope that you remember.
When I create a task, I set a due date. Even if the task doesn't have a set deadline, I use due dates to plan when I’d like to complete a task by (what I refer to as a “nice to do” date). Doing this, you can be much more intentional about your work and avoid a situation where you have a long list of tasks but no sense of urgency or order between them.
Because I do this, it means I can see a list of tasks I have coming up over the next 7 days in the “Upcoming” section of Asana.
The final step in my weekly review process is to look at each task and create or reconcile it with an appointment on my calendar. I’m a firm believe in time blocking which means any task that takes more than 15 minutes goes onto my calendar. The benefit of doing this is that it forces you to think about not just when you’d like to do the task but how long it’s going to take. This helps you to be much more realistic when planning your time.
For each task, I’ll create a block of time on my calendar to show when I’d like to work on it and how long it will take to complete. Some tasks will already be on my calendar. Either because I’ve already scheduled time in the past, or it might be a client call that’s been scheduled by Calendly. If I see a task that I don’t need to (or want to) complete, I’ll postpone it for later or even just delete the task altogether.
Some of the events on my calendar are set to recur each week which means I can speed up this process. For example, I know that on Monday I need to publish a blog post and write a new post for the following week. I also have time blocked out each day to do email in the morning. Setting up these recurring events saves a lot of time in the planning process.
My weekly review ends when I’ve looked at every task and am happy with the time I’ve allocated to complete it.
When I go through this exercise, I aim to leave some free space on my calendar. Inevitably my plan will change and I’ll have to move things around. Plus it’s highly likely that last minute things will come up, so it’s nice to have this flexibility rather than filling every available minute of my week with work.
I hope this little insight into my weekly review has been interesting. If you’re not doing a weekly review at the moment, I would highly recommend you take just 15 minutes this Friday to plan ahead. Taking some time to step back and plan each week helps us to move forward with more intention (rather than just reacting to whatever work comes our way).
If you’d like to share details of your own weekly review, please leave me a comment below!