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Avoiding the weekly review

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  • Avoiding the weekly review

    There was a recent thread on this, but my situation is a little different. When I actually do a weekly review, which in my case is more like a bi-weekly review (every two weeks), it takes me several hours. I try to go through the following, more or less in this order, to assess current-ness:
    1. empty in baskets and email inbox
    2. NA's
    3. projects
    4. project support files
    5. someday/maybe's
    6. read/review pile
    7. Prospects (sales)
    8. Business cards to enter
    9. handwritten notes to enter

    The problem is, because it takes so long and because its so much work, I tend to shy away from it just like a "project" on a NA list!

    I've tried putting it on my calendar. Works sometimes.
    I've tried breaking into smaller pieces. Didn't work at all. (got everything messed up)

    Any helpful hints?

    E

  • #2
    How many of the things on that list can you do (or do part of) daily, instead of weekly? How many can you automate? How many can you reduce or skip?

    For example, I try to clear all of my inboxes, physical and electronic, at least once a day. At my weekly review, my inbox is usually no worse than on any other day. I start the project review by deciding what I need/want to get to in the next week. Anything not on that list can be ignored until at least the next review. I brutally triage my read/review pile as I process my inbox, so I pretty much ignore it during my weekly review. If I have more than five or six business cards to enter, I either scan them or ask my assistant to do it. I keep handwritten notes in handwritten form, except for specific action items.

    Obviously, these specific optimizations may not work for you, but you get the idea. How can you maintain your system during the week so that the weekly review will be manageable?

    Katherine

    Comment


    • #3
      A couple possibilities:

      1) Maybe a bi-weekly review is enough for you to feel that your system is up-to-date.

      2) If not, I don't see why you can't do #1, #6, #7, #8, and #9 separately. And perhaps #5 depending on how you use that list. They look pretty modular. Then your "weekly review" would consist of reviewing your projects and next actions: making sure projects have enough next actions defined, that they are moving forward adequately, etc.

      There are usually many ways to break things down. Try other ways.

      And don't do anything you don't need to do. Do you need to think about every single thing on your someday/maybe list every single week? Do you need to go through your read/review stack every single week? If yes, then do it. If no, then don't do it.

      The greater question is, Do you really have a problem that needs to be solved? Missing project deadlines IS a problem. Missing important or urgent stuff because your inbox is overflowing IS a problem. But not doing a weekly review is not inherently a problem.

      Comment


      • #4
        Great ideas! But a few problems...

        Originally posted by kewms
        For example, I try to clear all of my inboxes, physical and electronic, at least once a day.
        I already do this one...

        Originally posted by kewms
        I start the project review by deciding what I need/want to get to in the next week. Anything not on that list can be ignored until at least the next review.
        Good idea, I'll try that

        Originally posted by kewms
        I brutally triage my read/review pile as I process my inbox, so I pretty much ignore it during my weekly review.
        Hmm, I'll reassess how I do that, but right now I let it pile up and read it during "odd" free moments.

        Originally posted by kewms
        If I have more than five or six business cards to enter, I either scan them or ask my assistant to do it.
        That would be nice if I had an assistant.

        Originally posted by kewms
        I keep handwritten notes in handwritten form, except for specific action items.
        That one probably won't work for me, since I need to carry a lot of data. I enter it into my computer and sync it to a handheld. I already keep anything I can in handwritten form, but unfortunately that's not too much.

        Some good ideas here, I'll give it some thought.
        E

        Comment


        • #5
          Do you really need to carry all your data with you all the time?

          Originally posted by mruseless
          That one probably won't work for me, since I need to carry a lot of data.
          Do you really need to carry all your data with you all the time?

          I do not have any access to my work data when I am at home and I like it.

          I also do not carry any home data with me when I do not plan to need it.

          Comment


          • #6
            No, but I frequently have ad hoc meetings, and I need access to what has been done on a particular project. When in meetings I take paper notes, and these often have to be entered under the appropriate project. Otherwise I'm back to carrying it all in my head!

            E

            Comment


            • #7
              processing paper notes

              Hi,

              some good ideas in this thread.

              On paper notes, a somewhat lengthy reply:

              - I either keep them as paper notes

              - actions I try to enter into my next action list as soon as possiblbe (if I'm doing great: right during or after the meeting, if I am doing good: during the weekly review, if I drown: during a much-less-than-weekly-review) - then I toss the paper

              - the few notes that I still want to have with me, and where there is more than next actions, I take to the office, put them on one of the high-end HP multi-function devices/digital copiers and use the scan-to-email function. Thus I get them as PDF files attached to an email (even in color). Rather than using the touchscreen on the digital copier for entering a meaningful subject for the message, I open the message in Outlook and change the subject (e.g. "my handwritten notes from the project team meeting on 02-Sep-2005), and save the message with the changed subject.

              In a medium-tech environment I can still make this work with a scanner or All-in-One device. May take an additional step if no scan-to-PDF or scan-to-email option is availabe. If the email version doesn't work, try "File - New - Post in This Folder" and attach the scanned file of the paper note.

              Comment


              • #8
                PDF not synched to PDA

                ... a note on the sync to PDA: in my work flow (as described in previous post) those PDFs don't sync with my PDA. There might be a way to even get that working. Although I use both laptop and PDA, in my environment it is acceptable for me to have those scanned paper notes "only" on my laptop.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Reactive mode?

                  Originally posted by mruseless
                  No, but I frequently have ad hoc meetings, and I need access to what has been done on a particular project. When in meetings I take paper notes, and these often have to be entered under the appropriate project. Otherwise I'm back to carrying it all in my head!

                  E
                  So it seems that - in the case of meetings - you are operating in the "reactive mode" instead of the "active mode". I mean you have very little control of the meetings you have. It must be frustrating when all the time you have to be prepared to answer any question concerning any project you are involved in.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Unfortunately that is true, largely because GTD is not a part of my bosses workstyle (yet). They often come to me to ask a question or two that they should be on top of themselves. They often come to me because they know I'll have the answer in my Treo. The better you get the better you better get!

                    Life is full of little ironies...
                    E

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hmmmm..... Perhaps being a little less on top of things would be to your advantage. Transcribing all those paper notes to electronic form has got to be a huge time sink. How about, "I'm sorry, Boss, I haven't put the notes from that meeting in my Treo yet. Can I check on that and get back to you?"

                      My point being that if your boss knows you can answer any question instantly, there's no reason why he should bother being on top of things himself. Meanwhile, you're so busy being your boss's assistant brain that you can't actually get any work done yourself.

                      Katherine

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, its not quite that bad.

                        But I like your suggestion. Even better, perhaps I will say, "I can give you a full update at the next project meeting." or something like that.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mruseless
                          But I like your suggestion. Even better, perhaps I will say, "I can give you a full update at the next project meeting." or something like that.
                          Will this strategy allow you to eliminate transcribing notes altogether? If so, it sounds like a big win.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It probably won't eliminate it altogether, because I take a few notes here and there when meeting w clients. Then I enter them in the client notes on my Palm (through the desktop app).

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