Do you ever have one of those nights where you wake up with a sudden burst of clarity and a great idea?
It’s rare, but I love it when it happens.
And it just so happened last night.
In the wee small hours of this morning, a light bulb went off, and I was inspired to try out a Weekly Review as part of my personal planning process.
Of course, today holds a host of projects preventing me from deep diving into this new experiment, but I was able to outline a quick plan, and I thought you guys might be interested in it as well.
So here’s what I’m thinking about implementing for my Weekly Review:
Tools I will need:
- Digital Calendar
You know I’m a paper girl but as our children’s schedules have picked up, we’ve added individual Mac calendars to our family communication and planning process.
- Task List
Some people keep this digitally: Asana, Todoist, Wunderlist. I’m pretty good about recording my task list in my Whitney English daily planner. I’ve gotten lax, jotting things down on notepads around the house, too, so I expect that in my first couple of weeks of doing this Weekly Review that I’ll be rounding up tasks from several different spots.
- Weekly Reflection Tool
I love Evernote for journaling, but I also use a composition book for long hand writing. For the purposes of a weekly review, I think one Evernote entry will be enough. One main note, titled, Weekly Reflection 2021.
This might seem like an odd “tool” needed, but if I’m going to try to improve my productivity or organization, I’m going to need to start with some data points. I also know I’ll need a reminder to do this throughout the day and week, because I get distracted easily and forget quickly. There are a gajillion types of data we each record through our days. I’m going to think about possibly using all of these: photos taken, videos recorded, my Evernote notes, things I’ve googled, emails sent. I won’t use all this data, but I’m interested in seeing what sort of footprint I’m leaving, and I wonder if identifying all these actions will help me batch my activities and consolidate some of my time more efficiently. I’d like to, at least for the time being, keep a better record of how I’m spending my time each day.
I think that’s all I’ll need on tools, at least to start. Next up, I’ll need to start gathering data/recording my time spent immediately. I have several ideas about how to do this on a longer-term basis: set a reminder on my phone at different intervals throughout the day to just jot a sentence about what I’m currently working on. Or maybe I’ll research and find an app or another tool that will collect this information for me. But for the time being, I’m going to recap each day in Evernote, either in the evening, or maybe the next day.
Then, I’ll need to schedule a time to do my Weekly Review. This week, I’m committing to about an hour on Sunday afternoon, the day you’ll be receiving this. I’d like to get that down to about 30 minutes. Since this week will be my first attempt at a Weekly Review, at least in this format, I will block off an hour, mainly so I can get my bearings. More on this below.
On Sunday, I’ll start by filling out my new Weekly Reflection document in Evernote. This is more of a reflection exercise than a journaling task. Major achievements? Current challenges? What questions do you need to ask yourself? Target problem areas. My current personal frustration is all my open projects, so for now going to structure questions around that: I’m thinking about tracking projects started, projects finished, projects worked on, and projects tabled.
Next, I’ll review my task list. I’ll make sure that each task has a due date, and maybe even a due TIME. Each task will also need to have a time block, meaning: how much time do I think it will take me to finish that task? If it takes me four hours to compose a weekly email, how will I schedule that time throughout my week? I’ll also think about labeling tasks as high energy or low energy. This might be in subsequent weeks, as I fine-tune and tweak this process.
This week, I’ll mainly be focusing on consolidating tasks onto one main list. I anticipate this taking a bit of extra time during the first go-round. My planning process has fallen a bit scattered, and reigning in all the ideas and projects may feel a bit like herding cats at first. But I’m excited to try this process out!
Lastly, I’ll review and update our family digital calendar and my planner. Things I’ll be on the lookout for:
- Upcoming appointments?
- Time blocks?
- Buffer windows?
I’ll let you know how it goes.
I know a lot of people do Weekly Reviews, and everyone’s process looks a bit different. I think the benefits are different for everyone, too. Some of us need the reflection reminder to celebrate our success and gently pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. Some of us will benefit from the gained clarity of this exercise, as it will help us see our current situation and identify any distractions. All of us will benefit from planning ahead, reviewing our calendars and planners.
I also think there might be a benefit of time-blocking: I wonder if it will help me minimize the transition time between projects. And perhaps the last benefit: reflection might help me close out some projects that I might be hanging onto, that haven’t been finished perfectly, but might be just finished enough to move on to the next thing.
Have you ever tried a Weekly Review? What works for you? Share below and let me know your experience. Or, if you’re going to use this template to try a Weekly Review for yourself, let me know how it goes!
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