Last Updated on January 5, 2023 by Stephanie
Do you feel overwhelmed? Are you stressed about how much you have to get done? Do you think you don’t have the time to do all you need? Is there something that you want to learn that will boost your productivity like crazy?
I’m telling you right now that this will absolutely change how you look at your to-do list and the week ahead. This will get your mind right and ease your stress when practiced weekly. If you would like to know more about to-do lists specifically, check out my post here.
Weekly is the key to the success of this though. I learned about a weekly review from David Allen, in his book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.” It inspired me to start doing a weekly review, and I have been doing them since February of 2021, and I haven’t missed a single week since. As of this update, I’m now in January of 2023, so almost 2 years of consistency! Have there been times that I was supposed to do this on Sunday and ended up doing it on Monday? Yes! However, there hasn’t been a week I missed, and it is very rare that I’m not done with my weekly review by 7:00 AM every Sunday morning.
What is a weekly review?
A weekly review is a time for you to check in with your lists, process things from the past week, double-check all the things you have a toe in, and get your mind right for the week ahead. A weekly review works best when it is done consistently. If you are someone who writes everything down or keeps everything in some sort of management system, it will be even better. Are you not that person? Okay…become that person. If you want to learn more about building these types of systems for your productivity, check out this post.
Your weekly review is also a time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished for the week and what you hope to accomplish for the week ahead. I am a big proponent of setting goals for myself. The weekly review is a great time to check in with your goals as well. You will actually get things done when you constantly review what you need to get done. The key to productivity is to actually act on things, so this will bring it all to the forefront of your mind! Be triggered by the weekly review instead of remembering the day before something needs to get done. Keeping a master to-do list that houses all the things you need to get done instead of trying to remember everything as well… will be a HUGE step in the right direction.
My Personal Weekly Review Steps
David Allen has a specific list of things that he puts out for his weekly review and I have definitely kept several of those items, but I’ve also added some of my own and tweaked ones that I thought were not necessary for me. A system is only good if you use it, so if there are things on this list that you feel like you don’t need to do after you’ve tried it, then take them off the list. Once you have implemented this, if there is something you feel like you need to add, then add it! My own weekly review has changed several times. It is super important for you the check your systems frequently if they are going to work for you!
Below is my list of things I do every Sunday morning:
- Check the calendar for the upcoming 2 weeks and the previous week.
- Review the next actions list and check things off that you already did.
- Check on things you’ve delegated or are waiting for other people on.
- Go through your project or to-do list and update and review everything on it. Read through it all and make decisions.
- Clean off your computer desktop and downloads folder.
- Make sure all of your email inboxes are empty.
- Go through your someday/maybe list and update or move things. Read through all of them!
- Process your notes from your review and any other notes you have from the week.
- Reflect on your week! What went well, and what didn’t? What are you going to improve on for next week?
That’s it. It takes me about 30 minutes to an hour to do, but it is well worth my time. If you click on the image below, I have a weekly review printable available for you, with a section for notes that comes in very handy! I recommend keeping this printable or a simple notebook handy during your review. While you are completing each step, write down anything that comes up while you are reviewing. Don’t go off and start doing that thing that popped up in your head, just write it down. You will take action on that at the end!
Now, read more below about each step!
Check Your Calendar
First, I recommend going back to last week and perusing your calendar to see what appointments you had. After this, look ahead for two weeks. While you do this, jot down any notes of actions you may have to take. If you have a doctor’s appointment next Wednesday and need to go get bloodwork done, you want to write that down on your notes! Maybe you had lunch with your girlfriend on Tuesday and told her you would lend her that new juicy novel you bought. Put it in your notes. Don’t act on these items just yet, but put them in your notes to process later!
Review Next Actions
David Allen is a big fan of breaking your to-do list into the next actions. Instead of writing something like “Plan Brian’s birthday party” on your to-do list, he says to break that into the next actionable step. Put that on a list of its own. This gives you small, actionable items that you can do each day to get you towards completing your larger tasks.
I admit that this is something I’m not consistent with. In Todoist, which is my absolute favorite task manager, I usually just move my “next” tasks to the current day when I know I want to get them done next. You can check out my post about how I use Todoist for more about my setup in there!
So, after you’ve checked your calendar, check over your to-do list and see if you’ve already completed some items. Move items you want to complete next onto your current day or put that next label on them so you know that you need to act on them this week.
Waiting For Others
Check on things that you are waiting for others on. When was the last time you checked in with the person you delegated that task to? If your productivity is dependent on someone else’s action, you need to address that or plan to! Put that in your notes to check in with that person. Don’t write the email or make that phone call now, but put it in your notes to do so in the upcoming week.
Go through your project/master to-do list
The ToDoist app is something I use every single day. I love it… like love it so freaking much I could write a million love letters about it on the internet. My to-do list is essentially all on there. Again, keep a list of things that you want to get done! Write it all down!
Your brain was not built to keep small pieces of information available for recall. Write everything down on a master to-do list. You can certainly categorize it, but seriously write down everything from getting that proposal done for work to changing your toothbrush in January. Write it all down… or in my case, put it all in the app!
The most important piece of this is to go through every single thing every time. Looking at everything and making decisions on it and deciding the next actions will help you realize that you can absolutely get it all done! Look through it all and make note of anything that you need to add, etc. If you want to learn more about how to use to-do lists effectively, check out my post here.
Tidy up your digital areas when you are done with the above. In other words, clean your desktop. Then, while you’re at it, clean out your downloads folder. No, seriously… just do it. File things where they should go or delete them. You don’t need that kind of clutter in your life.
In fact, this is something that I wrote a whole post about because I think it is sooooo important. We have so much digital clutter in our lives that gets in the way of getting more done. Read that post to learn why I think it is so important.
Get your inboxes to zero. Seriously. Check out my series about inbox zero, starting here. It’s also in that linked post above where I’m talking about computer cleanup. It is THAT important to me! Look through all the emails and delete all of the ones that don’t matter. File the ones that do matter in the proper place! You do NOT need to keep an email about Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale from three months ago. Get that crap out of there! Having a million emails in your inbox or constantly being distracted by them will tank your productivity. This will also distract you from your main goals.
The Someday/Maybe List
I love this part of David Allen’s system. He says to create a someday/maybe list. Mine currently has 183 items on it… no joke. Is there a house project that you want to do, but can’t do it right now? What trip do you want to go on in the future? Is there a purchase you want to make when you get that next promotion? Put it on the list. These are things you may never ever do, but they could be things that you strive for as well. I have everything from buying a new couch to going on a trip to Italy. You review everything on this list weekly because maybe you realize that you have the time next weekend to do that house project or you’ve got the money in the bank to get that new something that you’ve wanted.
Notes Notes Notes
The second to last thing to do is look over the notes you took while going through everything and put them in the proper place. Add dates to your calendar, put things on your next actions list, and add things to your someday/maybe list. Also, go through any other random notes from the week that you made on your phone or a post-it by your desk.
Now that you have all your lists updated, take the time to reflect on your past week. How did it go? Did you get everything done that you wanted? Was there something that held you back? How are you going to do better this week? What do you really want to get done this week?
Don’t skip this part… actually, take the time to think about it and go for it! If you’re really into doing this, consider doing some morning journaling every single day to reflect on how things are going. Looking back over these notes from your week might also help you prepare for the week ahead!
Next Actions For You
All right, now set it up! Pick a day and time without distraction when you can get stuff done. Do not let kids, emails, your phone, television, etc. be your excuse for not getting this done. When you touch on everything that is on your list every week, it is in the forefront of your mind and you can take action ahead of when you need to. Productivity is about the action, so set yourself up to act in the next week! This will absolutely take away a lot of the stress you may feel from a seemingly never-ending to-do list.
Try doing a weekly review for a month and see how it goes. What did you love or hate about it? Tell me below in the comments! Sign up for the newsletter and check out the weekly review printable and a couple of others in my freebie section as well!
If you are excited about getting more done, check out my productivity printables available in my shop! These include the weekly review checklist and a lot more!