How To Stay On Track With a Weekly Review
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  • Abby

How To Stay On Track With a Weekly Review

Just yesterday, a reader asked me if I do a weekly review. To be honest, I’d never heard of a weekly review, so I googled it. After skimming a couple of articles, it turns out that I do, in fact, do something of a weekly review, and it’s one of the most valuable parts of my week.


There isn’t much information out there on weekly reviews, so I can definitely see where the question came from. But first, let’s go over what I’m talking about when I say “weekly review.”


From what I can tell, the weekly review comes from David Allen’s Getting Things Done, a book that I have not actually read, but have heard about and do intend to read before too long. The weekly review aims to, well, review your week. It’s an intentional wrapping up of the previous week where you figure out what went well and what didn’t. Then you set yourself up for success in the coming week.


Basically, you check in and make sure you’re progressing toward your goals and figure out if you’re doing it efficiently, or if there’s a better way to go about it. Sounds like my kind of thing, right?


According to GTD, the three steps in a weekly review are getting clear, getting current, and getting creative. Or, wrap up last week, make sure you’re set up and ready for this week, and then have a little fun while you make sure things are going well.


As I thought about it, I realized that there are three things I do regularly that would constitute something of a weekly review, when all combined together. It’s not so much One Weekly Review™ that I do, but a set of systems and routines that I regularly complete that serve the same goals as the weekly review.


The Benefits of a Weekly Review


Doing a weekly review helps you to divide up your time into manageable intervals. When we’re born, we’re given one giant chunk of time known as “our life,” and we spend the entire time figuring out what to do with it.


Well, it’s much easier to take it all one step at a time. A week is a digestible chunk of time; you can visualize a week. A day is a bit too short, and one day typically doesn’t tell you much. There are bad days and good days.


A month is a little too long. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not spend quite that long on something unproductive when I could’ve figured out weeks ago that it wasn’t working for me.


A week is good. Our lives are divided into weeks for us by our jobs or classes. Weekly goals are manageable and one bad day won’t throw the whole thing off. By dividing your time into weeks, you can set yourself up with a start and end point, and a good block of time in the middle to work with.


Your weekly review lets you wrap up the old chunk of time and move into the next one with intention and purpose. If you’ve been around for a bit, you’re aware that intention and purpose are two of the most important factors in creating positive change.


A good weekly review also helps you avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. You build the habit of checking in with yourself and noting the things that could be improved. Made consistently, these little improvements amount to quite a lot of change over a few months or years.


Anyone who knows me knows that I have no tolerance for wasting time. When we let things be harder than they need to be because we never take the time to assess what’s working and what’s not, we’re wasting time. That said, time that you enjoy wasting is not wasted.


Reviewing your weeks keeps you focused on what’s happening and where you’re headed. When you check in with yourself regularly, you’re forced to stop and consider your goals, even if it’s only while asking yourself if you’re making progress toward them. Regularly reminding yourself of your goals, especially if you write them down, is one of the most valuable things you can do if you want to actually achieve them.


How I Keep Moving Forward


Just to be clear, I personally don’t do all of these things in one day. You could absolutely combine all of them into one weekly review, but I personally prefer to spread mine out. Either way, done together or apart, it accomplishes the same thing.


As I emphasized in my Monday Motivation email this morning, one of the most important and often overlooked steps in creating positive change in life is to evaluate how things are going. Try a weekly review. Try spreading it out. See which works better for you and stick with that one.


(By the way, if you didn’t get an email from me earlier today, then you aren’t on my email list. Oh no! Want a weekly bit of positivity from me? Join here.)


The Sunday Reset


One of the keystones of my success is my Sunday Reset. (Another good reason to get on that email list is that you get a worksheet on how to design your Sunday Reset when you do!) I also wrote an entire article about Sunday Resets, if you’re in the mood for a deep dive.


My Sunday Reset sends me into Monday morning with nothing on my to do list. It’s the “get clear” part of the weekly review. I do the laundry so all my clothes are clean and ready to go. I get my email inbox as close to zero as I can. I clear any old food out of the fridge, water the plants, and swap out all of the towels in the apartment for clean ones. I also do any of those annoying tasks that I’ve managed to put off for the entire week. By the end of the weekend, I aim to have a completely clean slate.


Theoretically, I also go through all of my mail and any other papers I’ve acquired during my Sunday Reset. I’m gonna be real with you though. It rarely happens. I’m terrible at it. I hate papers and mail, and I never deal with them. Right now, there’s mail from a couple of weeks ago still just sitting on the couch.


There’s always room for improvement. And if all of you guys can take the steps that you’ve been taking to improve your lives, I can deal with my mail. This is me making a commitment to you all that I’m going to deal with my mail. Maybe I’ll do it as part of my Sunday Reset. Maybe I need to find a different time to do it. I don’t know, but I’m going to figure it out and make it happen. Someone check in on me in a week or two and make sure I’ve been keeping up with my mail.


Yeah, so, other than my mail, I end Sunday with nothing waiting on my to do list.


5-4-3-2-1


If Sunday is my “get clear,” Monday is my “get current.” Every Monday morning, I revisit my 5-4-3-2-1 goals. I’ve also written an entire post about those if you’d like to hear the whole story, but the gist is that you set goals for 5 years, 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days, and 1 hour. It helps you to break your long term, 5-year goals into smaller pieces that you can start working on right now.


I keep it simple. I have a Google doc where I write all of my 5-4-3-2-1 goals. Every Monday, I open it up and make sure nothing serious has happened to derail me from my 5-year goals. Then I revisit all of the 4-3-2-1 goals in more depth.


Each goal has an end date, so if the end date has passed, I determine if I’ve met the goal. If I haven’t, I decide if I want to set the same goal again and change up my methods, or if I need a different goal. Some of these goals, especially my 3-week goals aren’t quantifiable; they’re things like, “talk less, listen more,” and “read more.” These often get carried over for quite a few weeks.


For the goals with an end date in the future, I evaluate my progress. How far away is the end date? Have I made decent progress, or am I lagging behind? Is my current strategy working, or does it need to be updated? Could I set a 2-day or 1-hour goal that would help me meet these longer goals?


I love my weekly check-in. I look forward to it every time. Even if I haven’t met some of my goals, it’s still exciting to see the progress I have made, however small it may be. I also love the problem-solving aspect of figuring out a new method when the old one isn’t working.


The 5-4-3-2-1 method is flexible. You could have the 1 represent 1 day instead of 1 hour. If planning 5 years out intimidates you, reverse it. Plan 1 year, 2 months, 3 weeks, 4 days, and 5 hours. Make this work for you. I’m a source of ideas, not instructions.


Along with my 5-4-3-2-1 goals, I recently started revisiting my Life Audit Trello board each week at this time. I take a few minutes to review how things are going over there.


Typically, the Life Audit goals are much larger and occur on a longer time frame than just a few weeks or months, but it’s nice to keep them fresh in my mind and make sure I’m trending in the right direction. Occasionally, I’ll find that I’ve made much more progress toward one of them than I had realized, which is always motivating.


Speaking of Trello, I’ve always been a diehard calendar girl and probably always will be, but I’ve been trying out time batching and working in a more task-oriented manner recently (which I touched on briefly here). With that, I want to start experimenting with Trello more. I have some experience with it and do like using it, but I’m looking for ideas. If you do something cool with Trello, let me know in a comment or email!


Morning Pages


Admittedly, morning pages happen on a daily, rather than weekly, basis, and they’re something I’ve only recently incorporated into my routine, but so far, I love them.


Morning pages come from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which I haven’t actually read yet, but I did check it out from the library a couple of days ago, and I’m going to read it very soon. (Come hang out on Goodreads with me if you want to see what I’m reading!)


Morning pages are three, hand-written, stream-of-consciousness pages that you write each morning, ideally reasonably soon after waking up. With my morning pages, I also write three goals or intentions that I want to accomplish that day.


Writing down whatever’s on your mind first thing in the morning will tell you a lot about yourself. You get a lot of crap out of your head, which helps you focus on things that are actually productive throughout the rest of the day. You’ll also end up with lots of good ideas. The “get creative” part of the weekly review happens every morning when I write my morning pages.


If a good idea pops up that I think I actually want to run with, I’ll stick a little block on my calendar if it’s something I want to do now, or put it on Trello if it’s more of a long-term goal. With that little block on my calendar, I do a bit of brainstorming and research on the idea so I can decide if I actually want to go somewhere with it or not.


One of the best parts of writing morning pages is that I almost always end up reflecting on what hasn’t been working for me and typically end up coming up with a solution while I’m writing. Something about writing out your struggles and letting yourself think about them without any pressure to solve everything right now results in an answer most of the time. Plus, because you have the whole day ahead of you, you can actually start to implement the solution you came up with right away.



Admittedly, while I don’t have one specific block of time set aside each week for an official weekly review, having looked at David Allen’s principles and the goals of the review, I think it’s fair to say that I do a weekly review. The bulk of it occurs throughout the day on Sunday and on Monday morning. The daily bit of reflection that comes from my morning pages offers the last little bit of problem-solving that’s missing from what happens on Sunday and Monday.


This all just goes to show that there’s more than one way to pet a cat (we don’t kill things around here). Take what you’ve learned from me and apply the parts that sound good to you.


Last, but not least, I love getting questions from readers! I’ll always be here, continuing to put out content that I know I would find helpful, but when you ask me questions, you help me help you. Reach out. :)