Strict Standards: mktime(): You should be using the time() function instead in /var/www/punkey/pivot/modules/module_debug.php on line 94
The 5 reasons why The Weekly Review is difficult - What's the next action

The 5 reasons why The Weekly Review is difficult

10 04 06 - 08:20 - Bookmark this post

As David Allen always says: The one thing that makes or breaks your implementation of GTD is the Weekly Review. Be sure to check out my article "What IS Getting Things Done" to get an overview of the WR in the whole system. Nothing is more difficult to start or maintain than that Weekly Review. I find it very hard to do and keep my WR. Earlier this week I was driving on the highway, pondering about some upcoming projects and what had to be done to get them going. One thing led to another and I came up with these reasons why the WR is so hard. I think anyone has their own reasons, but they will all end up in one of these five I think. Here we go

The 5 reasons why The Weekly Review is difficult

You have to stop working

The biggest problem of all. I mean, the book reads "take some discretonairy time, close the door, lock yourself up for a couple of hours and do your WR. Well excuse me. I work my ass off. I don't have the time to take a couple of hours and work through my lists and open loops. Because what happens? You don't review the list, you start working it. You see "email George re. annual figures". It doesn't have to be done right now, but what do you do? "Ah well, I can do that right now and you know what, I will email Betty, Philip and Stan as well for those other projects."
What you have to do is really really really do not work at all. Because you are already working hard. You have to get in the zone and work on your open loops in your projects. No incoming phonecalls, no short one-on-ones with colleagues, but you have to work on your Inbox. Now that's tricky. Because you are on a very thin line between work, file and review. Pay attention to that part of the WR.
One other thing you might feel is some sort of embarrassment. Because why do you have to allocate some time during the week to work on how you do your work? C'me on! You're a knowledge tiger! You are the office king! Nobody tells you what to do and how to do it. You are always in control of everything you do. Well think again. You can compare it with football (or American Football for all you non-Europeans). When you are in the field, you don't have time to think. You have to act. So you think beforehand, we call it strategy or tactics. That is the WR. You put everything in place, align the right contexts with the right actions. And when the moment comes, you just act.
Sounds easy huh? well...think again...Because...

You have to start thinking

One thing about the WR I find very difficult is to not do anything about a project but think about the projects. So instead of emailing George about those figures, I think about the project, decide the Next Actions and see what actions can be marked off the list.
Another thing The Dave mentions is you think about your bigger goals. The 30.000 and 40.000 feet goals. To tell you the truth, this hasn't happened for me. Ever. Well, not consciously. I find it hard to think about my current and upcoming projects let alone my long-term goals. Thinking is hard.

You have to choose

Now this is also a difficult one. Because you are in your tasklist, you see all your open loops. Many of those reflect something of a choice that has to be made. Not only within the action itself but also what to do with them. Is it still worth waiting on that email from Jeffrey after the sixth time you reminded him on it? What are the options to work on that plan for that new client? What are your options? Those are some of the choices you have to make. What makes it hard is that the choices might change how your day is filled or how the project will end up. So you are really working on your list of work for the coming week. This might sound frightning for some. "Oh my god, this turns me into a robot where I have to work off this list and that's it". Well, that is also up to you. You're it. Since you are in charge of your own list, you get to maken the choice (hmmm) how you deal with it...

You have to decide

Now this is a little different that making choices. Because you can decide to not make a choice. It is a logical follow-up to the choice-making process. But here you really tick of the actions and make up new ones. This is where you will form your own actionlist from which you have to work. You also have thought about other projects, upcoming appointments, new concepts and in your WR you decide how to handle them. You make decisions the whole day (Starting with "I will get out of bed now") but during your WR you make them more conscious and more precise. Those decisions also make how you form your professional life. This can be a bit more daunting than just doing your work and not thinking too much about them. So that's perhaps why a WR is also a showstopper. You have to make solid decisions and that can be hard...

You have to focus

The last problem why a WR is hard to do and maintain is you have to focus. This also relates to the thinking and deciding. You have to unplug the phone, lock yourself up in your office, put on some good music and START. I find it very hard to do a WR in my current office. We work in one big open space without private offices. So everyone walks by, I hear other phonecalls, interruptions are plenty. And worst yet, people just keep interrupting every now and again. "Oh come on, you just have to say yes or no", "But I really have to know your opinion on this"...Even when I ask everyone in a poltie manner to leave me alone for a couple of hours, there is always someone who feels they can interrupt me anyway.
The focus problem is a bigger problem I think. More and more people don't have the ability to stay concentrated and focussed on one task, the WR, for more than 30 minutes. This makes them anxious and they have to take a break and do something else. I have the same problem. I don't have the solution, but at least I have acknowledged that I might have a problem with my concentration.

Well, this concludes my list of reasons why a Weekly Review is hard to do and to maintain. Do you have some other ideas why a WR is so hard to do? Please let me know in the (now spamfree!) comments.

I think you nailed it. You’ve certainly hit all the pieces that I struggle with in the weekly review.

Mark Polino (URL) - 10 04 06 - 17:23

I list about 20 reasons in my article, “Why We Resist the Weekly Review and Plan (and What You Can Do About It)”:

I think you just brought this up to 25 now!
Ricky Spears (Email) (URL) - 11 04 06 - 04:11

Very very true. My lack of weekly reviewing is the constant downfall of my GTD implementation.
Grey (Email) (URL) - 11 04 06 - 09:42

As a lawyer who has been fighting depression for years, I often give workshops to bar associations about depression and impairment among lawyers. As part of the workshop, I introduce the audience to GTD by asking them to write on two sheets of paper the names of two particularly worrisome cases they have. I lead them through the process of determining the next action and explain how the next actions exist in contexts. After finishing the exercise, I usually ask whether or not they feel differently about the cases after having gone through the exercise. Usually there is some relief, but once in a while a lawyer tells me that he is more depressed than he was before the exercise. It has forced him to confront unpleasant but necessary actions that he had been putting off because they were too painful to contemplate.

Getting started with GTD often stirs up issues that we have ignored and put off because they are unpleasant. The weekly review often has the same effect. In our effort to insure that nothing slips between the cracks, we find ourselves facing problems that we have previously avoided. We solve that problem by avoiding the weekly review.
TomL (URL) - 26 04 06 - 06:03

Personal information

Remember your information?
Get notified?
Comment . You can use Textile for mark-up

Small print: All html tags except <b> and <i> will be removed from your comment. You can make links by just typing the url or mail-address.


This is an article which is part of my weblog "What's the Next Action". It deals with everything GTD and the five phases of projectplanning as written by Dave Allen in his book "Getting Things Done".

The previous article on this blog is called 'New features in Backpack coming up'.
The next article on this blog is called 'Chatting about GTD'.
You can find all the articles on the frontpage.
You can contact me via email

Popular articles

Here are today's most popular articles:
  1. Backpack and GTD
  2. Mindmanager, an excellent GTD tool? Win free licenses!
  3. Using Backpack and GTD, continued
  4. Scrybe is the killer GTD app?
  5. Simple Outlook hack may save your day in the future
  6. Mindjet's MindManager for free
  7. 6 ways to run an effective meeting
  8. Netvibes GTD tab
  9. The 5 reasons why The Weekly Review is difficult
  10. Still digging Evernote?
Made possible with Mint

Backpack: Get Organized and Collaborate


01 Nov - 30 Nov 2004
01 Dec - 31 Dec 2004
01 Jan - 31 Jan 2005
01 Feb - 28 Feb 2005
01 Mar - 31 Mar 2005
01 Apr - 30 Apr 2005
01 May - 31 May 2005
01 Jun - 30 Jun 2005
01 Jul - 31 Jul 2005
01 Aug - 31 Aug 2005
01 Sep - 30 Sep 2005
01 Oct - 31 Oct 2005
01 Nov - 30 Nov 2005
01 Dec - 31 Dec 2005
01 Jan - 31 Jan 2006
01 Feb - 28 Feb 2006
01 Mar - 31 Mar 2006
01 Apr - 30 Apr 2006
01 May - 31 May 2006
01 Jun - 30 Jun 2006
01 Jul - 31 Jul 2006
01 Aug - 31 Aug 2006
01 Sep - 30 Sep 2006
01 Oct - 31 Oct 2006
01 Nov - 30 Nov 2006


« January 2021
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


XML: RSS feed Save time and energy, use my Webfeed


Keeping stuff in your head is soooo oldskool. Get it out! Check out our review of MindManager 6 Pro and try MindManager for free the next 30 days!



Powered byPivot - 1.40.0 beta: 'Dreadwind' 

XML: RSS feed Webfeed webfeed My GTD feed
Subscribe in NewsGator Online

Powered by FeedBlitz

Last Comments

Frank Meeuwsen (Hack: Netvibes wi…): Franck: Thanks for the update. The s…
Franck Mahon (Hack: Netvibes wi…): Thanks for sharing this with your vi…
Martijn (We're moving serv…): Succes with it! Will you be down, te…
Scot herrick (We have our winne…): This was a fun contest. It’s always …
Frank Johnson (Netvibes GTD tab): Douglas: In case you check back, I u…
Steve Newson (We have our winne…): Thank you so much for picking me as …
Luciano Passuello… (We have our winne…): Just as Bill, I would like to thank …
Bill Reichart (We have our winne…): Thanks for picking me as a winner. …
Frank Meeuwsen (We have our winne…): OK, I found out when you use IE you …
Mike (We have our winne…): I too have a problem getting the .mm…