Getting Weekly Review done... after 2 months

Last Thursday I did my long-overdue weekly review... after not doing one for close to 2 months. There, I've said it. I've been procrastinating my weekly review mostly due to our move to a new country (we moved across the Europe in September due to my wife's new job) and it was a very hectic time for us... and I needed my review so badly. I managed to get some half-reviews every now and then (that's how I managed to still get a lot done in the meantime) but it was finally time to do a proper review and take a deep breath. Here's how I did it:
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Weekly Review is not that scary

Weekly Review is just that - a review of what you've done last week and what you're planning to do next week. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn't have to take a whole day. It usually takes about 1 hour, maybe a little more, but it's just a review. Don't be afraid. It's not as spooky as we make it to be.

Embrace your backlog

I was afraid to do my weekly review for so much time as I had a backlog of emails, stuff to do, projects, etc. We were moving to a new country with lots of stuff to take care of, and I couldn't get my routine in place... and this even more withheld me from doing my Weekly Review. Bad thinking. Finally I embraced my backlog and included it in my review... and it helped. Once I did that, getting with inbox and REPLY folder in Mail to zero was easier and assessing my projects became clearer.

We are always busy - there is never a good time for a weekly review.

That's right. We are busy, I was too busy for a review... but without it I'd be running in wrong directions. Luckily I was doing mini-reviews every now and then... but without a proper review I'd be totally going wrong direction sooner than later. Just make a decision and schedule this 2-hour meeting with yourself. Even in your busy schedule you'll find the time. You really have to.

Divide it into small, actionable steps.

Weekly review is just that - a new project that you have to complete every week. Divide it into small steps and you'll get it done. One step at a time. Here are my steps for a good weekly review. I plan to follow them every week now:
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My Weekly Review consists of two parts - preparation (1) and action (2)

PART 1 - First I need to prepare myself for the weekly review and I do it like this:

1. Clear physical inbox - I have a regular inbox tray where I put my receipts, snail mail and physical notes - and I empty it every day practically (I even empty my inbox after travel fairly quickly),so this takes me about 15 minutes to empty my current inbox before the review.

2. Inbox Zero + REPLY without fires, meaning, I need to have my Email inbox at ZERO (no biggie, I have it at zero every day) but then I don't need to have my REPLY folder at zero, I just need to make sure there are no fires there. It takes me about 30 minutes to scan and decide if I've responded to enough emails and I'm ready for the review.

3. Review Mindmap - I keep a mind map of all my life (the 50k level and below), meaning I have all my business and private roles there and the paths I'm going in these roles. I have all my strategic decisions for NozbeProductive! Firm and other projects there and every week I review it to make sure I know where I'm going.

If some direction changes, I update the mind map and if it's irrelevant I update it, too. This mind map review helps me decide my actions for next week (as well as assess last week's actions). I also review my past week's calendar to make sure nothing sleeps my mind.

PART 2 - Then I need to start getting the Weekly Review really done:

4. Re-arrange and revisit Nozbe Projects - I'm going through Nozbe projects (all of them) and checking if everything is there that needs to be. I'm removing all of my Next Actions and deciding on them once again. It takes me 30-45 minutes (depending if I did my Weelkly Review last week :-)

5. Clear Nozbe inbox - Every week I have around 10-20 actions in my Nozbe inbox so I decide on them quickly (move to a project, do, kill...) I prefer to first re-arrange projects (step 4) and later do the Inbox to make sure the actions go to good projects already.

6. Add stuff to where it should go - meaning - I need to add new stuff to my projects, add new actions based on my last week accomplishments and make sure my mind is empty and there is no action/deadline/calendar or meeting on my mind.

7. There it is. Time for a prayer and thanking the Lord. If you're not a faithful person, just relax and take a 5 minute of deep breaths, but I'm a practicing Roman-Catholic Christian and I believe in God and I'm really happy to thank him for everything he's done for me and for the love he gives me. I'm thanking for the good and the bad and for God being there in my life. And for letting me do my Weekly Review and feel better and more confident about where I'm going.

That's it. There's my weekly review and now that I've done the big one after such a long time, I'll try to stick to doing it really weekly. Follow me on Twitter where I'll be reporting my updates.

How is your Weekly Review coming along? What are your magical steps to get it done?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Monday, November 8, 2010 (gtd,life,productivity)

Juan Ros
Nov 8, 2010 16:41
Great post, Michael. A good reminder of the importance of the Weekly Review!
Michael Sliwinski
Nov 8, 2010 20:01
Weekly review is essential... and it's not that scary. We need to find the time for this meeting with ourselves to get our things in order. I've been procrastinating this for too long but now I'm back on track!

Thanks for your comment Juan and good luck with your Weekly Review!

Dave Jaworski
Nov 14, 2010 05:08
Great article! Thank you! I enjoy reading your blog as well as Productive! magazine.

#7 is most important! Thank you for sharing your faith and sharing the real power behind Nozbe!

Dave

Michael Sliwinski
Nov 14, 2010 16:44
A prayer is an integral part of my weekly review. There's a lot to thank the Lord for his constant support and guidance. Glad you liked the post, Dave - thanks for stopping by :-)
mike st. pierre
Nov 14, 2010 18:48
Glad to see other Roman Catholics who are putting their faith into practice! Keep up the good work Michael!
Michael Sliwinski
Nov 15, 2010 10:12
Just did a Weekly Review this Morning. Had a breakfast, a prayer and started a great week with fresh plate and clear list of priorities. Love the feeling. Cool.

Mike, thanks for your comment - I'm a fan of your blog, too :-)

rolandgreco
Jan 11, 2011 22:30
Michael, would like to learn more of how you use your mindmap. Do you have any tasks in it or are all your tasks in Nozbe? thank you, roland
Michael Sliwinski
Jan 12, 2011 07:52
I use mindmaps for brainstorming. I don't usually add specific tasks there, rather goals and projects and observe their relationships... and then once I have a clear vision where something is going, I create appropriate projects and actions in Nozbe for this. Thanks for asking Roland, I'll try to address it in one of my future posts.
rolandgreco
Jan 12, 2011 13:53
Michael, thank you, with all of us having so much to do showing how you use mindmaps to interact with nozbe would be great.