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The Portable Weekly Review

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  • The Portable Weekly Review

    I have been thinking about attempting a portable weekly review. I keep my system in Outlook 2007, synced to my Windows Mobile phone for calendar and tasks. For some unexplainable reason, I feel the need to RUSH through my review sometimes at work. I am much more relaxed at home, so I was thinking that I could (even though I dont have access to add actions) go through the motions of a WR by reviewing my lists and noting on a legal pad until I get back to the office. The point being that I could be much more chill (coffee shop anyone) while I review...

    Does anyone to a portable WR like this? any best practices, tips?

    Thanks.

  • #2
    I can't see this working personally, because to make sure everything is up to date I need access to all of my files and folders.

    What might be a useful add on is an hours "blue sky" time at a coffee shop to do a complete mind dump, get everything out of your head, prior to your weekly review, so you spend more time doing and less time contemplating during the review time.

    Comment


    • #3
      Nice clarification....

      Yoshimi, I like your suggestion of the Blue Sky Add On. I think that is what more accurately describes what I am looking for. In some way I think there is a tiny bit of me that feels guilty really spending some time on the "Projects and Larger Outcomes" section. For the Blue Sky thinker in me, I would like to create more of a time to just hang out in this area.

      Thanks!

      Comment


      • #4
        The problem with even mildly portable reviews is scope i think. I have my desk, with iMac and paper inbox etc, i very rarely get to do a review there. I also have a laptop, but then i am already missing my paper inbox, as well as some documents might not have had a chance to transfer yet. I also have my iphone, which is good for reviewing and capturing on the go, but again is missing a lot of files and scraps collected elsewhere, and additionally it is harder to get a big picture view of projects. It is however perfectly suitable for quick checks on action lists and single project tidying.
        Copping up the review is a good idea i think. A large part, project checking etc, is just mechanical. But a good part of it is creative as well. Nothing wrong with delegating part of it to a time and place when you are in a better frame of mind, just as long as it gets into your system in the end.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by gtderik View Post
          In some way I think there is a tiny bit of me that feels guilty really spending some time on the "Projects and Larger Outcomes" section.
          I would like to share a nice true story with you, about this.

          Ford, after succeeding with his Ford-T car, once invited an external expert to counsel the company, in an effort to cut expenses.

          After going through the factory he told Ford that in this and that room he saw one of his executives sitting with his feet on the table day-dreaming.

          "I think you have to fire this executive", he said.

          Then Ford replied, "This executive gave us last year an idea that saved us a few million dollars, and at that time I assume he was sitting the same way..."

          Mic

          Comment


          • #6
            I scan everything. All of my folders and support files are therefore on my laptop and accessible whenever my laptop is, which is all the time. I resisted this for a long time ("too much work") until I didn't have a crucial file with me and realized that it was both a passive and active obstacle to getting an enormous number of tasks done. I'm rarely anchored to my desk anymore, and can and do perform my daily and weekly reviews anywhere and at any time. This has been very especially helpful in leading me to confront the real reasons I resist doing tasks and doing reviews, having removed the excuse of not being at my desk.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Dan Owen View Post
              I scan everything. All of my folders and support files are therefore on my laptop and accessible whenever my laptop is.
              Dan,

              How do you organize the files your scaner creates, in order to find them quickly from within the Project/NA context?

              Does it add a big overhead to your activity?

              Mic

              Comment


              • #8
                My computer file structure matches my paper file structure exactly. I don't have a very flexible brain, so I need everything to be consistent. But, increasingly, I find documents by searching using Windows Desktop Search rather than clicking through folders on my hard drive.

                So, for example, I have a project on my (Excel-based) Someday/Maybe list called "Research Evernote." It points to few URLs. But I also have a hard copy of an article about Evernote that James Fallows wrote in The Atlantic. I have a task on my S/M list under this project that says, "Re-read Fallows Atlantic article." I have the hard copy of that article in a support folder in my office labeled, "PROJECT: Evernote." And I have a scanned copy of the article in a file path that reads roughly Projects>Computer Resources>Evernote.

                Does it add a big overhead to your activity?
                I keep a folder in my office inbox called "Docs to Scan" and an item on my @office list called "Scan Docs". I scan when I have a few free minutes, and I also schedule time to catch up on all scanning once a week (on Fridays), when I bundle this task together with a bunch of other "bookkeeping" tasks that I handle using a checklist. I have no idea how long it takes -- for me, that's an irrelevant statistic to track, because I'm focused on the outcome of the routine, which is of much more value to me.

                I resisted scanning everything because I was afraid it would take an enormous amount of time. Then I wasn't able to do some important tasks because I didn't have the documents I needed in my laptop, and I asked myself a different question: "is the time I'm saving by not scanning these documents worth it?" The answer to that question is "no." Now that I'm scanning everything, I'm shocked at how much easier it makes almost everything I do.

                One lesson learned from the experience of groping toward this new routine is that I need to broaden the questions I ask when I find myself pushing back against ideas that change my comfortable routine. I'm afraid of learning curves, and my fear frequently binds me to unproductive but comfortable ways of approaching my work. Over the years, I've paid a very high price -- both monetarily and in terms of time and lost opportunities -- for sticking with the comfortable and the familiar and for being resistant to questioning whether these routines and habits are serving me well, or whether they're hurting in me or have the potential to harm me in ways that I haven't forseen because I haven't bothered to ask.
                Last edited by Dan Owen; 04-24-2009, 03:52 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Blue sky

                  Originally posted by Mic View Post
                  "This executive gave us last year an idea that saved us a few million dollars, and at that time I assume he was sitting the same way..."
                  So we are paid or we exist as we think....and the weekly review it's a great opportunity to think ...and it's a problem of discipline.....because we can have a blue sky even if we are in a grey office..... This is only a recap also for me! Thanks

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gtderik View Post
                    I have been thinking about attempting a portable weekly review. I keep my system in Outlook 2007, synced to my Windows Mobile phone for calendar and tasks. For some unexplainable reason, I feel the need to RUSH through my review sometimes at work. I am much more relaxed at home, so I was thinking that I could (even though I dont have access to add actions) go through the motions of a WR by reviewing my lists and noting on a legal pad until I get back to the office. The point being that I could be much more chill (coffee shop anyone) while I review...

                    Does anyone to a portable WR like this? any best practices, tips?

                    Thanks.
                    Man it was good to read that. Me too! I use the same tech you describe. plus a notebook and pen. I have my WR scheduled over a lunch break at work, plus an hour blocked out after it. Because I'm managing both personal and work projects I don't feel hard done by giving up half of "my own time" for this.

                    However in my job (software development) it's very very rare to get 2 hours uninterrupted and we just don't have enough meeting rooms or quiet study areas to get it done. My review often gets totally interrupted. I've tried educating people in the business about it, but that has not helped.

                    I've tried doing the WR at home in the evening, but with a toddler to organise for bed, I can't start till 8pm or so, and then my energy levels are usually wrong for the review at that time.

                    I do have 2 half-hour slots a day for processing to zero - so my review is usually not revolving around my inboxes, that part is usually done.

                    I've printed my task list from Outlook weekly for ages (double sided landscape using the default template, grouped by category) as a backup because IT once lost the backup of my tasks from the exchange server (at the same point where I accidentally deleted them all)

                    I've been experimenting with doing my review based upon the paper copy, coupled with the PDA and the notepad. I can whiz through the printout ticking each item as I process it. I car share to work and have even had some success sat in the back seat using "motorway time" to do a review. Doing any admin other than marking complete with a PDA is just a pain, so I use the pad to record any major changes and then chuck the notes in my inbox when I get to work. I don't have mobile internet on the PDA.

                    It does help me to be flexible like this - at least I get some review done. But I personally still need to get at least every other review done in "the right environment" for me, which isn't the back seat of a car.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gtderik View Post
                      I have been thinking about attempting a portable weekly review. I keep my system in Outlook 2007, synced to my Windows Mobile phone for calendar and tasks. For some unexplainable reason, I feel the need to RUSH through my review sometimes at work. I am much more relaxed at home, so I was thinking that I could (even though I dont have access to add actions) go through the motions of a WR by reviewing my lists and noting on a legal pad until I get back to the office. The point being that I could be much more chill (coffee shop anyone) while I review.
                      I do my review on Sunday mornings in a cafe, deliberately avoiding home and office settings. Otherwise I either feel the impulse to follow through with my next actions on the spot, or feel lured away from the review by coworkers' manufactured emergencies. I could muster the self-discipline to ignore these impulses, but being lazy, it's more effective for me to control my environment. If you do your reviews off-site, it's important to have your all of your collection buckets processed down to zero the day before in order to avoid having to rethink what was in them during review time.

                      I'm tempted to follow CoffinDogger's lead and print out my Outlook lists instead of bringing the laptop, but I always feel as though I'll need to access some some file or record that I didn't think ahead to print out.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Patio WR

                        I did my weekly review on the patio this morning. It was a beautiful day! I really enjoyed it.

                        I've recently gone to paper, backing up the list twice a week to Outlook with the GTD add-in. This is a strategy I use occasionally when I get numb to my lists. I actually DON'T print out my lists from Outlook when I go to paper--I write everything out by hand. This helps force me to really think about what I'm writing and whether or not it is a "real" next action. I've only been in paper mode for a week, but I really shortened my context lists!

                        Another recommendation: I always get "in" to zero the day before my weekly review. I find that facing a big blob of paper and a bunch of unprocessed emails takes all of the steam out of me for the weekly review. I'm also less tempted to get out of WR mode and into "doing" if I separate those two activities.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Nice idea!

                          Barb, I have also gone back to paper.

                          I am looking forward to "cutting the cords" from the computer. And yes, I have also shortened my lists up. Its a great side effect of going analog! Keep us posted on your paper journey.

                          In regards to the Portable WR, I have this vision of going out on the dock on the lake at my parents cabin with a warm cup of coffee and my binder. Nothing like those surroundings to induce blue sky thinking!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            How I cut time spent on the weekly review in half and doubled its effectiveness

                            I've discovered a way to conduct a weekly review in less than 90 minutes: treat it mostly as one long capturing/collecting session. Since I've started doing this, I spend only about 60-90 minutes on my weekly review instead of over two hours.

                            I used to update my lists (process and organize) during the review, but after a while I noticed that I was spending a lot of time cleaning junk out of my lists because I rushed the fundamental thinking process to get through the review. So now I just capture new things to put in my system and I do it during regular processing time. This also prevents me from getting hooked into DOING while I'm REVIEWING. Lots of two-minute next actions come out of my reviews and if I do them during the review it extends the time required to finish considerably. I also rarely do my weekly review at my desk at home (where my primary system resides), so I hallucinate that this method works very well for people who do their weekly reviews on the go.

                            Though I'm a high-tech person, I find it easier to conduct the review from printouts of my lists and calendar for the current and upcoming week. As I execute each step of D.A.'s Weekly Review Checklist, I capture triggered actions/thoughts onto a legal pad in the same way that one performs a mindsweep. As I review my projects list, I even write new next actions (including calendar entries) on the legal pad, not directly into my lists. After I finish the checklist I usually have several pages of action items that were triggered in my brain during the review. I tear off the pages and I put them into my in-basket.

                            I also use highlighters and make notes on the printouts to indicate updates that I need to make to my system when I return home. I use a pink highlighter to tag items as deleted or done, yellow for things that need to be changed or renamed, blue for things (mainly projects) that need to move to Someday/Maybe, and green for Someday/Maybe items that need to be activated. I also toss this into my inbasket at the end of the review.

                            When I get through the checklist, the actual review is done. I process and organize these artifacts as soon as I'm able to do so while the review is still fresh in my mind.

                            The occasional review of my Horizons of Focus also used to slow down my weekly review because I tried to think about, revise and update them during the review. The weekly review is not the time to set new goals. That takes lots of time, energy and a different type of mental mode. I now spend less than two minutes reviewing each HOF item (focus area mind map, goals list, values, mission, etc.) and capture any thoughts that the review triggers. If I need to update them or of something doesn't look right, I capture the thought and nothing more. Later, during processing and organizing, those captured thoughts translate into projects (revise 30,000 ft goals) and next actions (review (thoroughly) 30,000 ft goals) to be done outside of the weekly review.

                            If you decide to give this method a try, I'd like to know how well it works for you. Please let me know.

                            All the best,

                            -Luke

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Fantastic Suggestion!

                              Ellobogrande,
                              I enjoyed reading your take on compressing the weekly review. I like the separation that this causes between review and DOING. You are still capturing and updating, but putting a barrier and "blinders" on so that you dont go down rabbit trails during the review.

                              I think that this will be a nice addition to trying to portablize (yes, I just made that word up ) the weekly review.

                              Comment

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