When I have a hectic week, I’ll go from chaos to focus in 60 minutes when doing a weekly Review. It’s is a simple habit to get closure for the week, gain insights on what works (what doesn’t) and to get back to zero. I’ve been doing Weekly Reviews since 2016 and I love what it brings me.
Benefits of doing a Weekly Review
- Closure of the week: no more guilt when the weekend starts and you didn’t finish everything you wanted to finish. It’s OK and next week is another week. It’s also a great way to celebrate success and be grateful for what you’ve accomplished
- Adds a fire-break, so the chaos from this week doesn’t spread to next week
- You make a deliberate effort to work on your goals. Work on projects that matter, because you’ve prioritised the most important projects
- Less stressed, because all tasks are planned and scheduled, instead of winging it and doing tasks as they come. You are focussed and now what to work on
- Reflection is the only way to improve yourself. It’s part of my philosophy of 1% better everyday
Do the weekly review at the same time every week
To turn this into a habit, I recommend creating a time-block for a weekly review. It should be in your Calendar and you should have time planned for it, otherwise you won’t do it.
I prefer to do this on Friday to close my week. If I have other commitments, I’ll perform it on Saturday Morning. When I don’t have enough time, I do a quick version: just the weekly reflection and rating. Writing a few paragraphs can be done anywhere. When I realise I forgot to do it, I’ll sit down and write for a few minutes. This way I don’t break the habit. One of the most memorable weekly reviews was on the top of a mountain in Spain while I was doing a trail run.
You can make a Weekly Review any size you want. Start small.
No-nonsense version of the Weekly Review
A Weekly Review is not meant to ponder about the meaning of life or reflect on your career in relation to the vastness of the Universe. My Weekly Review is no-nonsense. That means you won’t have to meditate or ‘ohm’. It’s a weekly review that is focussed on business results, but has a personal side to it as well.
Step-by-step instructions for Weekly Review
The concept was popularised by David Allen in the book Getting Things Done.
Step 1: Clear all Open Loops
Clear Gmail Inbox to Zero
To start I process all emails in my inbox. That means I decide what to do with them, and not reply to all of them. Read how I process my email using the Inbox Zero method. This is basically the last time blocking session of the week to process my email.
- Reply/process emails that take less than 2 minutes
- Add meetings to Google Calendar
- Add tasks from longer emails to my task system
- Skim through newsletter folder and read interesting articles
- Save emails/attachments in Reference folder if needed
Make a decision on each email, you don’t necessarily have to reply to all of them.
In my Notion setup, I go over the Notes section to make sure all notes have been processed. That means that I’ve followed up everyone I’ve spoken to that week and have sent them the meeting notes. I usually catch tasks I forgot about when going through the notes.
Next to the meeting notes, I see if I’ve met someone this week that I didn’t follow-up on or didn’t send a thank you message to. I will check last week’s calendar and add any tasks that I’ve missed to my To-Do list.
Clear Task List
In Notion, the next step is to rebalance all tasks that I didn’t complete. Stuff got in the way and that’s OK. I use my Weekly Review as a fire-break, so next week’s task list is achievable, instead of last week’s left over tasks AND next week’s tasks.
Review ‘Waiting For’ List
In Gmail and Notion, I check the tasks I’ve delegated to other people. If the task has expired its deadline, I’ll follow-up to ask if the task is still on their list.
I see WhatsApp as an inbox as well. I’m terrible at replying to them, so on Friday I go over them and reply to any unread messages.
Clear Chat messages
If I have any unread messages in Google Chat or Slack, I mark them as read and catch any tasks before I close off for the weekend.
Clear Downloads Folder
It’s really annoying if you can’t find a file and have to re-create something. That’s why I go over my Downloads Folder on Friday and upload important files to Google Drive if I didn’t do that already when I created them. It’s a way to make sure I have access to all files in the future.
Clear psychical desktop
Any papers that are on my desk, I’ll archive or get rid of. The papers usually are tasks as well, so I do them or add them to my To-Do List.
If anything is bothering me, I’ll have a moment to check in and I’ll write about it. What’s bothering me? Why is it bothering me? This helps me to prevent any mental blockers from showing up.
Step 2: Reflect on Projects
Review ‘Active Projects’ & Goals in Notion
Quickly go over my Goals and Projects to make sure I’m still aligned and working towards making progress. This is part of my project prioritisation process.
Review “Next Action” for Active Projects
I’ll go over all active Projects in Notion.
- What have I done to make progress?
- What are the next actions for this project?
Review next week’s calendar
Check if there are any conflicts between my ‘Next Action’ List and my Calendar. Cancel any meetings that don’t serve my goals. I also check if I need to prepare anything for next week’s meetings. I do this here to catch any potential calendar clashes.
If I’m teaching a new group next week, I want to review my course material to see if it fits their goals. I might need half a day to create an updated version of the slides. By checking my calendar for next week, I’ll catch it here before I conduct a review of the week.
Step 3: Reflect & Journal
Write a summary of the week
I’ll write a summary of the week to reflect on different aspects. When I start, I have to think hard ‘what did I do this week again?’. Sometimes I look at my calendar to refresh my memory after a busy week. I’ll give a description of what happened that week and also how I’m feeling. It’s insightful to read back your thoughts and feelings from a few weeks back. Reading this in the future gives me insights into what I’m stressed about and what gives me energy. Based on the summary of the week, I can do more work that I love.
Ask myself these questions
- How did you feel?
- What went well?
- What could be improved? How can you improve it? / Has anything prevented me from having a great week? Why?
- What should you keep doing?
- What are you grateful for this week? / What are you proud of?
- What progress have you made? / Which actions did I take this week to move towards my long-term goals? / What enabled me to reach my goals this week?
Give this week a rating
This is highly subjective and If I’ve had a great Friday, I’ll score the week higher, even though the first 4 days were rubbish. I’m aware of it and it doesn't’ matter that much. The goal is to understand what drives a great week and what is sabotaging a week when I rank the week below a 7.
Add print screen of Calendar
This is specific to how I perform my annual review. At the end of the year I’ll read each weekly journal entry. It’s easier to look back at my Calendar inside Notion (so have the print screen and journal next to each other). This is optional for you of course.
Step 4: Plan next week
Define 3 key results
Based on my Goals & Active Projects, I define 3 most important tasks to work on next week. It’s a way to turn my reflection into actionable steps for next week.
I use Gary Keller’s question from The ONE Thing: What’s the One Thing I Could Do Such That By Doing It Everything Else Will Be Easier or Unnecessary?
Clarify the Next Action
Define the Next Action for each Project and add it to my to-do list. Make sure to have a clear definition of done.
Schedule next week’s tasks & meetings
Add additional tasks to my to-do list to fill up the week
Check calendar for any conflicts / meetings that need preparation
After this, I’m done for the week. I’ve closed my week, have prepared for next week and I can happily close my laptop.
That’s it. I hope this inspired you do try out a Weekly Review. It has helped me greatly, that’s why I’ve been doing it for 6 years already.
FAQ about Weekly Review
How long does a Weekly Review take?
It takes me about 2 hours, but that includes processing my emails and smaller tasks. The reflection itself takes about 15 minutes and planning next week about 45 minutes.
What is the best place to do a Weekly Review?
Make sure you do this in a Deep Work block so you can work without distractions. The Weekly Review forces you to think hard about your goals and how you've operated last week. You need to think about the difference and adjust based on the insights. Do this in a café or somewhere where you can be by yourself.