In the search for ways of improving our time management and work speed, it’s easy to get too absorbed in our busy routines and not make time to reflect on our performance and results. But taking the time to pause and look at the bigger picture during a weekly review can take your productivity to the next level.
As much as we organize and plan our tasks, the hecticness of our daily lives can put us in a reactive mode, leading us to prioritize whatever demands are thrown at us instead of acting proactively toward our actual goals. The weekly review is a simple strategy that can help you take a step back and reassess the progress and developments of your hard work.
Practicing the weekly review has positively impacted my overall productivity, it can do the same for you.
What is a weekly review?
A weekly review is a time to look back on the tasks completed and the leftovers, understand which strategies worked well and which didn’t, study how to improve, and plan the following week. It is a grounding habit that helps you stay focused on your objectives and avoid feeling like you have no idea what you’re doing.
It is not a time to rethink all your goals and completely recalculate your productivity route. On the contrary, the weekly review is a brief moment to evaluate how your current strategy is going and make a few tweaks to enhance it. When you need to make big goal-orienting decisions, scheduling a longer strategic planning session would be best.
An efficient weekly review aims to:
- Organize your work setup: clear out your virtual and physical work settings, eliminating any junk that can distract or disturb your work the upcoming week.
- Reevaluate your schedule and to-do list: remove unimportant tasks and update your to-do list and calendar with any new relevant information.
- Set the priorities for the week: choose the goals for the week and categorize everything else by priority.
The weekly review is one of the essential steps of the Getting Things Done (GTD) method by David Allen. From his viewpoint, taking a moment to analyze your week’s worth of work can polish up your focus on what really matters in a sea of potential distractions.
Get a broader perspective of your week
During the daily grind, we zoom in on the plan for the day and narrow our focus down to each task. While it’s great to stay deeply focused and overlook the totality of things you’ll eventually have to tackle, looking at the bigger picture can help you make better decisions in the coming week.
A few questions you can ask yourself to get a wider perspective:
- How did this week go?
- Did I do everything I planned? Yes/No? Why?
- Did I reach my goals?
- Was my weekly plan effective?
- What were my planning mistakes? Did I overschedule?
- Was this week more productive than the previous one?
Improve your performance every week
Tracking your performance, progress, and results is the best way to ensure your hard work is paying off and getting you closer to your goals. The weekly review is the ideal opportunity to measure your metrics and analyze how to improve them in the upcoming week.
For that reason, it’s essential to have clear objectives, priorities, and metrics. Keeping track of your stats will help you acknowledge when you achieve a goal and can move to the next one or if you need to change your strategy to reach it. The weekly meeting can shed light on how well you’re spending your time and where to improve.
Be more prepared by planning ahead
In addition to having a macro look into your past week and adjusting the priorities for the next one, your weekly review should also include a moment to plan your upcoming tasks and activities. The more you plan, the easier it will be to get everything done and be flexible to any unexpected events that might appear.
You can use a system like Akiflow to create a “second brain” where you’ll plan all your assignments and discharge all your ideas in a backlog. Doing so will clear your mind and give your brain the best opportunity to rest and start fresh the following week.
My 6-step weekly review
What’s remarkable about the weekly review is that you can customize it to your routine and lifestyle. I, for instance, have simplified GTD’s weekly review steps to fit my needs.
1. Find the right time for the weekly review
The right time for the weekly review is a time that suits your work schedule, as long as it helps you to be consistent with it. It is your weekly shutdown before your time for rest and can work as a divider between your weeks if you work in sprints, for example.
For a regular Monday to Friday schedule like mine, I find that doing my weekly review on Friday or during the weekends works well. I’m usually done with all my tasks by then and am able to reflect on all my past assignments at once.
2. Reassess the goals for the week
A great way to conduct the weekly review is by reassessing your goals and measuring the results. Once you recall that, you can go over the week’s developments and analyze which objectives were achieved and which weren’t.
However, the weekly review shouldn’t focus solely on metrics. It will still be as effective if you just recap how the week went and reflect on how to improve for the following one.
3. Investigate what worked and what didn’t
After finding out which goals were reached or not, you must investigate why that happened. Were you too distracted this week? Did you need more time for a task than expected? Did you not have all the resources required?
The best way to analyze your performance is by asking questions. Create your personal set of questions that will guide your weekly review every time. Plus, whatever the reasons for success or failure, write them down so you can replicate the positive aspects and improve the negative ones.
4. Go through your task list, backlog, and calendar
The next step is adjusting your objectives for the upcoming week, setting clear priorities, and finding out what you’ll tackle next.
Review your task list, backlog, and calendar, remove anything not aligned with your goals, add any new tasks necessary, and create your weekly plan from there.
Pro tip: time block each activity onto your calendar to ensure you’ll have the time to execute it all.
5. Remove the roadblocks
Another essential part of the weekly review is to take a minute to analyze which are the potential roadblocks for the upcoming week. Maybe you’re lacking a critical tool or resource to complete a task, or are waiting for someone’s action or feedback to resume a set activity.
Whatever your roadblocks may be, you’ll thank yourself later for thinking ahead and guaranteeing a smooth setup for your the following week’s work.
6. Extra step: journaling
I personally find the weekly review worth turning into a work journal. In addition to monitoring your goals, a journal can be a space to keep track of your thoughts, ideas, and inspirations.
A work journal can be reflective, analyzing the past and the present to gain insights and perspective, and discover possibilities for improvement. But it can also be forward-thinking, pondering about your objectives, next moves, and the future of your career and professional life.
The weekly review is an excellent opportunity to review a week’s worth of work and learn from it to improve and grow for the ones to come. You’ll get a broader perspective on your performance and results, helping you to make smarter decisions and create more efficient plans.
The weekly review, alongside the task and time management features in Akiflow, has enhanced my workflow and productivity with six simple steps.