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  • Circling around the Weekly Review

    I haven't figured out the weekly review yet. But I am quite happy with my projects and NA list - (using LISTPRO on a PDA), - everything is on one list, but I use flags to identify if it is a project or an action, and another flag to indicate current or someday. (I filter on the flags as needed). Context categories are fine. (there's a few other points, but that's the gist of it). I do look over the list and move stuff around quite regularly.

    I have been debating how to do the weekly review, I extract the list from LIstpro, paste it into excel, and use pivot tables to provide whatever format I want for weekly review. But I dont' do the actual weekly review.

    So, how and which order to review?

    Review the projects and the actions together or separatetly, and if separately, which first?

    Review current projects only? Current projects & actions? What happens when you move a project to someday, but the action stays as current?

    Rview Projects - move them current/someday to suit the plan for the next week, then check that all actions have the appropriate current/someday flag. Up to this point this is quite do-able. But then reviewing the actions for each project? - every time I consider this, I shy off in horror.

    Any suggestions? I've been going in circles around (never approaching ) the weekly review.

  • #2
    Weekly Review

    Originally posted by eowyn
    I have been debating how to do the weekly review, I extract the list from LIstpro, paste it into excel, and use pivot tables to provide whatever format I want for weekly review. But I dont' do the actual weekly review.
    Boy, that is a lot of moving data around! But you sound like you are not getting much value out of it. David Allen has a simple format for the weekly review. Why not use it?

    Originally posted by eowyn
    But then reviewing the actions for each project? - every time I consider this, I shy off in horror.
    Perhaps your next actions are not really next actions, but represent larger, less manageable chunks. When you look at a next action, do you know immediately what to do and how to do it, or do you have to think about it? Or perhaps your next action lists have become cluttered with "project plans" which make you lose focus. Do some items on your list have dependencies (stuff that has to be done first).
    Or maybe there is something else. But I am quite sure that your aversion to your next action lists is telling you something.

    Comment


    • #3
      My approach is:

      Mind dump. Fully process inbox. Review upper level goals if necessary. (Usually monthly or quarterly.)

      Review projects. Decide which ones I want/need to tackle this week. Move the rest to Someday/Maybe, with an appropriate next review date.

      Review Next Actions for current projects only. Verify that they all really are actionable. If this list is too long to review in a reasonable time, then you can't do it all in a week anyway. Decide what won't get done and move it to Someday/Maybe.

      Done.

      It's logically impossible for an action to be current when the project isn't, or vice versa. That is, a project with a current action is, by definition, current itself. Conversely, a project without a current action can't make progress and therefore is, by definition, Someday/Maybe. Humans can be illogical, but computers can't, so maintaining this flag sounds like a job for software automation. How can actions inherit the flag from their parent task?

      Katherine
      Last edited by kewms; 08-31-2005, 10:01 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by eowyn
        But I am quite happy with my projects and NA list - (using LISTPRO on a PDA), - everything is on one list, but I use flags to identify if it is a project or an action, and another flag to indicate current or someday. (I filter on the flags as needed). . .I do look over the list and move stuff around quite regularly. . .I extract the list from LIstpro, paste it into excel, and use pivot tables to provide whatever format I want for weekly review. But I dont' do the actual weekly review.
        Honestly, the system sounds very cumbersome to me. Why all the moving stuff around? You are creating pivot tables in Excel in order to do a weekly review, but then not actually reviewing anything?? Seems like a symptom that the pivot tables are not such a good idea. . .

        Originally posted by eowyn
        But then reviewing the actions for each project? - every time I consider this, I shy off in horror.
        OK, I must be missing something. Projects and actions are not different things: projects are completed by a series of actions. How in the world are you going to know if your projects are going anywhere unless you have a clear picture of the actions you have completed and the next actions you have to take to move them forward? If you are horrified at the thought of reviewing the actions for each project, I don't see how your system is working for you.

        Now maybe your system is working for you. Maybe you have increased your productivity and/or decreased your stress while not letting anything fall through the cracks, over some length of time. But it is hard for me to see how this could be so, based on your descriptions in this post. Maintaining a system is not a means in itself; it is a means to an end.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by kewms
          My approach is:

          Mind dump. Fully process inbox. Review upper level goals if necessary. (Usually monthly or quarterly.)

          Review projects. Decide which ones I want/need to tackle this week. Move the rest to Someday/Maybe, with an appropriate next review date.

          Review Next Actions for current projects only. Verify that they all really are actionable. If this list is too long to review in a reasonable time, then you can't do it all in a week anyway. Decide what won't get done and move it to Someday/Maybe.

          Done.
          Katherine,

          That is a great summary of how to do the weekly review. Thanks so much for posting that! I know that is going to work so well for me. I always have way more projects going than I can complete, and separating out the current projects and having next actions for them and leaving everything else in Someday/Maybe on a weekly basis will solve that problem. Thank you!

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you for responding.

            Boy, that is a lot of moving data around! But you sound like you are not getting much value out of it.
            Transferring from Listpro to excel and using pivot tables is easy, fast and fun. That's not the problem.

            When I "move stuff around", I mean I change the flag between current/someday. If I am looking at my project list, I will see some that I move from current to someday and vice versa. Looking at this happens a couple of times a week, but ad hoc, and never a complete review of all projects. Same with actions.

            Perhaps your next actions are not really next actions, but represent larger, less manageable chunks
            I am very clear with the distinction between projects and actions. If anything, I am less clear of the distinction between projects, and projects at the next higher level. eg One (higher level?) project has the aim of improving the quality of our safety audits at work. This is not an official project that has been given to me, is long term, and is not a priority but a nice to do given an opportunity. My next action, in the context of @Walking-around-site, is to chat to a particular person if I spot a convenient opportunity.

            Some projects have serial actions - only the next one is on the list. Some projects have a couple of parallel actions.


            David Allen has a simple format for the weekly review. Why not use it?
            Could you remind me what that is?




            It's logically impossible for an action to be current when the project isn't, or vice versa.
            Correct. So how do you move any actions off the current list if you change the project to Someday/maybe? - This is a question about tools. I haven't gone near the GTD add-in for Outlook because I haven't seen anyone say how that works with a Pocket pc - and in particular with Pocket Informant.

            Comment


            • #7
              This may be an unpopular opinion, but I find DA's description of the weekly review (pp. 185-7, just to be clear) to be, let's just say, "not as good as" the rest of the book.

              I don't mean it's bad, just that it's not as helpful as other sections of the book. For one thing, I find the lack of parallel structure distracting. Next actions seem to work best when they begin with a verb, why not each item in the weekly review as well? Even worse, the last item is "be creative and courageous." That's OK as an exhortation, but it's not a specific action to take, unless he means go back and do the "empty your head" step or even the entire review again with a different attitude. It just doesn't belong as the last step in the weekly review.

              On a positive note, I have now done 6 weekly reviews in a row. For me it was critical to write out my own checklist, and to just pick a day of the week and stick with it for awhile.

              One thing that makes the weekly review difficult imo is that it asks you to do all the GTD steps in one sitting. The rest of the book walks you through collecting, processing, organizing, etc., and specifically instructs you to separate the steps, but then the weekly review tells you to essentially get caught up on all of these things at once. When I sat down to think through exactly what I needed to do and what order made sense for me, my checklist ended up being organized under the headings COLLECT loose stuff, PROCESS it all into my ORGANIZATIONAL buckets, and then REVIEW.

              I'm sure most people are saying, "duh, that's exactly what the book says."

              Maybe so, but I don't think it says it as effectively as other sections of the book. DA's descriptions of the rest of the GTD process make me want to jump up and start NOW!, while the weekly review section just doesn't.

              Comment


              • #8
                For my weekly review I use a simple check list. Some items are borrowed from David's list. Some from others.

                I have a reoccuring calendar reminder for my weekly review for Friday AM and Sunday AM. I may do one or the other or both. On Sunday's I also read a chapter in the Ready For Anything book and answer the "By the Way" questions. It's a good way to get into the Weekly Review "mood".

                I have this list saved as an Outlook Task folder outside of my Tasks and labled Weekly Review. That way if I start on it Friday at work and have interupptions I can pick back up where I left off later that day or over the weekend.

                Without a check list, I never felt I actually did a good review. Now I know if I have or have not completed all the steps. Once I did this I also felt better about the virtual linkage between projects and next actions ie it became more intuitive, I felt better about putting things on my calender and I also felt better about not dating a lot of NA's. I knew I would reveiw everthing at least once a week. So if I overlooked something it would get my attention at the reveiw.


                001. Clear My Mind
                01. Loose Papers
                02. Process Your Notes
                03. Empty Your Head
                04. Review Action Lists
                05. Review Waiting-For List
                06. Review Previous Calendar Data
                07. Review Upcoming Calendar
                08. Review Any Relevant Checklists
                09. Review Someday/Maybe List
                10. Review Roles and Responsibilities
                11. Evaluate status of projects, goals and outcomes
                12. Define succesful outcome of each project and spend time on vertical planning

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by eowyn
                  So how do you move any actions off the current list if you change the project to Someday/maybe? - This is a question about tools.
                  You are clear about the distinction between projects and actions, but your tool is not. To Listpro, it sounds like there is no distinction between projects and actions (except a flag). You have one data structure with everything in it assumed to be the same type. So there is a mismatch between the characteristics of your data and the data structure of the tool. You are left with the task of changing the flags for all those actions manually. Is this a problem or is it easy to do?

                  If it is a problem, as it sounds from your question, can you change the structure of your lists in Listpro to make it easier? Ideally, the actions need to be subordinate to the projects with at least one characteristic (current or someday/maybe priority) that can be inherited from the parent project. Not as good but still helpful: can you add some sort of field to both the project and its actions, search on that field, and then change the flags that way?

                  I am a big believer that automation of tedious, boring tasks can free your mind for higher-level thinking. Personally I hate doing stuff like this manually. I move entire projects with all their subordinate actions to Someday/Maybe in one step with my tool. I can also change the importance settings of a project, causing all of its subordinate actions to rise or fall on my context-based ToDo lists.

                  So what exactly horrifies you about doing your weekly review?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    re Data Structure: GTD has three dimensions - project, action and context - whereas Spreadsheets, and lists (LISTPRO) and even OUTLOOK, have only two dimensions. I understand this problem with the tools. I gather that the GTD add in for outlook does something about the third dimension.

                    Listpro is a great for lists, but it does not have the features to automate it to manage the third dimension.

                    Changing the flag on one action or one project is one tap - easy.

                    What tool do you use? I am very keen for a decent tool that works on my PDA.

                    Actually, I think that part of my reluctance to do the weekly review is because the action list contains lots of actions that are doable during the week, even if the project does not have to progress that week. Hmm.... I have projects I intend to progress this week, projects that may progress this week, and projects which are for someday/maybe. (And their associated actions.)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ActionGirl
                      This may be an unpopular opinion, but I find DA's description of the weekly review (pp. 185-7, just to be clear) to be, let's just say, "not as good as" the rest of the book.
                      I just re-read it while thinking about this post, and I completely agree.

                      Originally posted by ActionGirl
                      I don't mean it's bad, just that it's not as helpful as other sections of the book. For one thing, I find the lack of parallel structure distracting. Next actions seem to work best when they begin with a verb, why not each item in the weekly review as well? Even worse, the last item is "be creative and courageous." That's OK as an exhortation, but it's not a specific action to take, unless he means go back and do the "empty your head" step or even the entire review again with a different attitude. It just doesn't belong as the last step in the weekly review.
                      Good point. I also noticed that the desired successful outcome of the weekly review is not clearly stated. Apparently it is to make sure your system is up to date. So if you keep your system up to date every day, there is no need for a weekly session to do so.

                      Also, the "What to Look at, When" section on pp. 182-183 is not conceptually related to the weekly review.

                      Originally posted by ActionGirl
                      One thing that makes the weekly review difficult imo is that it asks you to do all the GTD steps in one sitting. The rest of the book walks you through collecting, processing, organizing, etc., and specifically instructs you to separate the steps, but then the weekly review tells you to essentially get caught up on all of these things at once.
                      This is another good point which I had noticed before.

                      Clearly, the assumption in Chapter 8 is that during a busy week, you will fall behind in keeping things up-to-date in your system. The weekly review is then necessary to get everything up-to-date again.

                      On the other hand, if you were to keep your system up-to-date more regularly, say daily, you wouldn't need to get it up-to-date in one painful weekly session. This is the approach I usually use. I do not set it aside a weekly session to review my calendar, collect loose papers, etc. as described on pp 185-187; I do it in smaller bites throughout the day and week. Any more than about 20 minutes of collecting/processing is just too painful for me. I prefer regular maintenance.

                      The weekly review should be whatever people need it to be for them. People should review whatever they need to, as often as they need to, whenever they need to. The people on this forum describing what has worked succesfully for them have tailored the review to their own needs. (e.g., Katherine's post on this thread)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by eowyn
                        Listpro is a great for lists, but it does not have the features to automate it to manage the third dimension.
                        Listpro supports hierarchies. So it seems like this could work for all your dimensions, IF children can inherit something from the parent. Then changing an attribute for the parent (current -> someday/maybe) could change it for all the children too, automatically. I did not read enough about Listpro to see if it has such a feature, but if it does, it will solve this problem.

                        Originally posted by eowyn
                        Changing the flag on one action or one project is one tap - easy.
                        Yes, but finding and then changing, say, 10 actions for a given project is a tedious pain in the rear (IMO).

                        Originally posted by eowyn
                        What tool do you use? I am very keen for a decent tool that works on my PDA.
                        If you are using PocketPC, alas my tool won't help you.

                        Originally posted by eowyn
                        Actually, I think that part of my reluctance to do the weekly review is because the action list contains lots of actions that are doable during the week, even if the project does not have to progress that week. Hmm.... I have projects I intend to progress this week, projects that may progress this week, and projects which are for someday/maybe. (And their associated actions.)
                        Sounds like a priority issue. . . So you have 3 priority levels in your mind:

                        - must progress
                        - may progress
                        - progress later

                        Hmm, these could also be expressed as
                        - now
                        - maybe
                        - someday

                        (or as A-B-C as in the much-maligned Franklin-Covey ABC priorities. . .but anyway. . .)

                        Do you dislike looking at a long list of actions where lower-priority (may do) items are mixed randomly with high-priority (must do) ones?

                        If this is the case, you could create another context list. You now have only 2 (current and someday/maybe), but you really have the 3 priority levels above in mind. Maybe you could break out the "Current" list into "Current: must" and "Current: may." You might feel better reviewing these 3 lists rather than looking at the "may's" mixed in with the "must's".

                        Or is there some other problem?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Meaty Topic

                          I have to say that this is a particularly meaty topic and is giving me great food for thought. I don't feel that I have yet achieved the appropriate mindset for a weekly review, as discussed in the book, but now I'm not so sure that I am actually failing. I just want to thank you all for this discussion - it's putting my implementation in a new light.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Nice Checklist

                            Originally posted by ddewees
                            ...
                            001. Clear My Mind
                            01. Loose Papers
                            02. Process Your Notes
                            03. Empty Your Head
                            04. Review Action Lists
                            ...
                            I like that checklist. One tiny change I would make is to make 01. an action.

                            i.e., 01. Collect Loose Papers


                            (Or, maybe Lose Papers; so we don't have to deal with them.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Love it!

                              Originally posted by ddewees
                              For my weekly review I use a simple check list. Some items are borrowed from David's list. Some from others.

                              I have this list saved as an Outlook Task folder outside of my Tasks and labled Weekly Review. That way if I start on it Friday at work and have interupptions I can pick back up where I left off later that day or over the weekend.
                              Thank you for the great checklist. Could you expand what you mean by "Task Folder outside of my Tasks?" I'm sure this is a Duh! question, but I like what you are doing and think I want to "borrow" your procedure.

                              Thanks.

                              Comment

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