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A Case for the Wednesday Weekly Review

A Case for the Wednesday Weekly Review

If you practice Getting Things Done®, the productivity method authored by David Allen, then you should have at least heard about the “Weekly Review”. Hopefully, you are also practicing it as well.

According to GTD, your weekly review should consist of an evaluation of your outstanding involvements. It’s a time to empty your mind, process your inbox, and review not only your Calendar but also your various “GTD buckets”: actions, projects, ticklers, someday items, and reference material. Most of us set aside one to two hours for the weekly review, in which the main benefit is to cultivate your trust not only in the GTD method but also in the tools you’re using to implement the method.

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I speak to a lot of GTD’ers, and discovered that many of them fell off the GTD wagon many times. When we drilled deeper we found that a very large majority of them (close to 90%) did not do a weekly review. Digging deeper still, we discovered that nearly all of them scheduled and planned to do their reviews on the weekend: there, my friends, lies the problem.
No matter how ambitious we are, as soon as Friday afternoon raises its head, most of us are thinking about play—not work. GTD may be the best productivity method in the world, but the weekly review is not play, no matter how you spin it.

After speaking to many users, we turned inwards and realized that many of us in the office who were not consistent had, in fact, scheduled their reviews on the weekends. So we decided to change: with the exception of one person who does his review on Friday, the rest of us scheduled our reviews on Wednesdays. Wow, what a difference a few days makes. During the week, I’m in “work” mode: I’m highly focused on my targets, working on my projects, and gaining momentum gradually as the week progresses. I usually peak on Wednesday. It turns out that’s the ideal time for the weekly review.
The best part, of course, is that this way my weekends remain mostly about play.

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1. Use Weekends to Recharge

Your creativity is fueled with the fires of experience, but you can only be productive if you rest. It’s a simple equation and it means that you need to spend your weekends doing the things you love, not reviewing various tasks and practicing your GTD.
I found that I ruined my weekends when I spend them dragging myself back to what I was doing during the week: it felt like a ten-ton hammer was looming over my head during the weekends. So, scheduling the reviews on Wednesdays turned out to be perfect; being rested and in control is a great combination.

2. Accountability Buddies

Having accountability buddies who will remind you to do a review is great. Hopefully, you are not the only one at the office that’s practicing GTD; if you are, your next action is to get a GTD buddy at work.
If your colleagues at work are practicing GTD, it’ll be easier to keep on top of the weekly review. Sharing your GTD ups and downs will help create a dialog in the office, and it’s much harder to miss a weekly review when others are talking about their successful ones. Think of it as your GTD support group.
So, yes, telling your buddies at work that you need a little push to do that review can help you—nobody can push you while you’re at home (except your spouse and you don’t want that).

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3. Stay Focused

Most of us ride the same productivity curve during the week: we ramp up on Mondays and are running on full cylinders on Tuesday and Wednesday, but by Thursday morning we start to lose our steam. The mid-week review is great way to refocus and re-energize—by reviewing what we have accomplished and what is still on our plate, we get both a tap on the back and a kick in the behind.
If you’re doing your weekly review on the weekend, and it’s working, then as the old saying goes “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” However, if are missing your weekly reviews, if you’ve fallen off the GTD Wagon, or perhaps you feel lackluster on Thursdays and Friday, why don’t you give it a try? Let us know what you think!

Featured photo credit:  Elderly and young men, working in very different fields of activity via Shutterstock

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More by this author

Haim Pekel

Haim Pekel is an entrepreneur and shares tips on productivity and entrepreneurship at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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