Why The Weekly Review is Essential.

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The one part of Getting Things Done that a lot of people struggle with is the weekly review. That’s the part when we take some time out of our crazy, busy, always on lives for some reflection, planning and thinking. Without this weekly time, no system is complete and, I would argue, no life is complete.

The world we live in today is fast. Very fast. In the past we had time to think about and compose a letter, now we receive an email and minutes later we get a phone call or text message asking if we have received the email (I hate that!) When we wanted to book our annual holiday we had to go and get brochures, sit down and look through them and then visit a travel agent to book the holiday. It took days. Now a quick browse online and within minutes your flights and hotel are booked.

The pace of life is the biggest change in terms of personal productivity in the last thirty years and it is not going to slow down. We don’t have time to stop and think about all the inputs that are coming our way and if you are not allocating just one of the 168 hours you get each week to a full and comprehensive review of all your commitments, tasks and collected stuff, things are going to slip, get missed and forgotten.

This is why more than ever the weekly review is so important. It allows you to take a step back and gather your thoughts. It allows you to evaluate the direction you are going in and it gives you the opportunity to plan what you will do and when the following week.

I like to think of my weekly review as my time off the grid. It’s when I put a stop on inputs for an hour and get everything zeroed out. My to-do list manager, notes app and email. I also go through my Twitter and Facebook messages as well as any other messaging services I use to make sure I have not missed anything — which is very easy to do given the number of inputs we have coming at us every day. Doing this allows me to start a new week with a clean sheet. It also means everything of value is in my system, processed and I know what and when something will happen with it.

The reality is if you are not doing a weekly review you are just entering stuff into your system, adding random dates so you won’t forget something, but those dates are meaningless if you have not really given any thought to what needs to happen next. When the vaguely written task comes up, you take one look at it and push it off to another random date.

When you do a weekly review you can give each project and task careful consideration and decide if you want to do anything with it next week. You can remind yourself of the outcome you want for that project and review it to make sure it is moving in the right direction. You can decide if you want to do anything with the project next week and if not you can remove the date. This means anything dated for next week has been thought through, a decision about exactly what needs to be done made and a date assigned that has meaning because it has been assigned with the knowledge of what will be happening on that day.

How long should a weekly review take?

As long as it takes. My weekly reviews take around 45 to 60 mins. I can do it faster, and I often do if my time is limited, but I never feel comfortable doing a quick review. I always feel I may be missing something and usually give myself a little extra time on a Monday evening to make sure everything is collected and a decision made on everything in my system.

Over the last few weeks, I have been focused on writing about taking your personal productivity to a higher level. The weekly review is one of the cornerstones to achieving that next level of productivity. It’s where you find that calm controlled feeling. Knowing you have everything decided upon and knowing you will get whatever is required done on time and to a high level of quality. It also means that no matter how fast your world is, you will always have time set aside each week to review, reflect and adjust course if needed. You get the opportunity to catch up, to make sure nothing important has been missed and it means you begin a fresh week with a clear mind and ready for anything that will come your way.

The key to a good weekly review is to customise it for you. Over on the Getting Things Done website, there is a great template you can use to follow in the early days, but you need to be customising it to fit your system and your way of doing things as quickly as possible. We all have slightly different system setups and we all have different projects and areas of focus. You decide which ones need reviewing and which ones do not need reviewing as frequently.

If you really want to get in control of your work, projects and life, then develop a weekly review that works for you and make sure that doing the weekly review is a task set in stone each week. It is through doing a weekly review that everything will come together, it will ensure you are making the right decisions about what to work on and it will take you to the next level of productivity.


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Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, please hit the like button below 👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

The Brilliance and Weakness Of GTD And The 5 AM Club

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GTD — Getting Things Done by David Allen — is a great book with an equally great message. The principles and methods detailed in the book are sound, they work and have helped millions of people around the world to get organised and to become less stressed.

But as with all things as good as GTD, the weakness in it is how people apply its principles. One good example is David Allen’s definition of a project which is, anything that involves two or more tasks is a project. Taken literally that means making an appointment for a haircut could become a project. You need to find your hairdresser’s telephone number and then call them to make the appointment. That’s two tasks. That’s a project.

But really is it a project? Those two tasks could be done sequentially in less than five minutes. Do you really need to create a project for these tasks?

The missing part of Getting Things Done is the part where common sense comes in. Were I to make a hair appointment, or a dental or doctors appointment, it would not become a project. Common sense tells me that to make an appointment to see my dentist can be done with a single task — make appointment to see dentist — even though there may be two or three tasks involved.

Another example where taking what is written in a book too literally can be found in Robin Sharma’s brilliant latest book The 5 AM Club. The book’s premise is that you wake up at 5 AM, do twenty minutes hard, intense exercise (enough to make you sweat), then do 20 minutes planning — preferably in your journal — and finish off the hour with 20 minutes studying, or self-learning.

I adopted the 5 AM Club principles early last year but modified them to better apply to my life and my circumstances. I wrote about my experiences and how I was getting a tremendously positive experience from it, yet I was informed by a well-meaning reader I could not be a “member” of Robin Sharma’s 5 AM Club because I do not follow the 20/20/20 principle. I do not do 20 minutes exercise followed by 20 minutes planning then 20 minutes learning. I disagree. Exercise first thing the morning causes me to feel dizzy and nauseous and I have found that planning my day is better done the night before. It removes anxiety and stress and leaves me waking up with excitement, energy and purpose. What my reader misses is that the 5 AM Club and GTD are not about the steps. They are about giving you a framework in order to achieve a desired end result.

Whether I do my exercise at 5 AM or 2 PM as I do, doesn’t matter. What matters is I do the exercise every day. Whether I do my planning at 10:00 PM or at 5:20 AM doesn’t matter. What matters is I do the planning every day. I achieve the same results as if I did my exercise and planning at 5:00 AM. And that is the point.

I wake up at 5 AM and do 45 minutes studying and 15 minutes meditation. It works for me. It leaves me feeling refreshed, energised and ready to make each day the best day of my life. Which is exactly what the 5 AM club is all about.

And the same goes for Getting Things Done. Whether you turn your hairdresser’s appointment into a project or treat it as a single task doesn’t really matter. What matters is you get your hair cut. Getting the work done is far more important than the process you have in place to tell you what needs doing.

We are all different, we all have different ways of doing things and we all think differently. What GTD and the 5 AM Club do is provide you with fantastic ideas and a framework to improve your life. How you implement those ideas into your life is up to you because those ideas need to work for you.

Pure GTD did not work for me. Too many things slipped through the cracks and my projects list became overwhelming. It took far too much time to maintain my system and it wasn’t until I broke away from treating every multiple task as a project that GTD really started working for me.

But at the core, my whole COD system is built on the foundations of GTD it’s just stripped down to work better for the way I think and work. Equally, the message in Robin Sharma’s book is about making a significant improvement in your life by waking up early and spending some time developing your mindset, heartset, healthset and soulset. I do that every day. It’s just I do things in a different order, an order that works better for me.

And that’s really the point. David Allen’s GTD and Robin Sharma’s 5 AM Club have a fantastic message and they both give you ideas and strategies that can give you incredibly positive results. But you do need to take those principles and apply them to your life. If you start work at 5 AM in the morning, then perhaps you need to wake up at 3 AM and do your self-development work, or with GTD perhaps you want to redefine what a project is for you. It could be four or five steps before something becomes a project. The way you define it is less important. What is important is that you are capturing your stuff and then organising it in a way that is meaningful to you. That’s how you get to improve your life and that’s how to take the ideas you learn and apply them to your life to make positive change.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit those clapping hands below many times👏 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

The Secret To Greater Productivity Is To Focus On Less.

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When I was a little boy, my mother used to tell me my eyes were bigger than my stomach. This was because I always wanted more food than I was capable of eating in one sitting. And just like your eyes being bigger than your stomach, your thinking about how much you can do each day is bigger than you can actually do.

Over-enthusiasm causes problems later.

Often, when we start to get ourselves organised we create a long list of to-dos and immediately feel better having got everything written down. Then we begin to tackle those tasks and every time we look at the list our hearts sink and a feeling of overwhelm descends. From there it’s just a short walk to procrastination hell.

For those who have followed to principles of David Allen’s Getting Things Done, the idea is to break everything down into bite-sized chunks organised by context so things don’t feel overwhelming, unfortunately, long lists of to-dos do just that, they create a sense of overwhelm. Just going to see a film at the cinema could create a list of ten to fifteen things. In reality, all you need is “Find out when Wendy can go to see Bohemian Rhapsody” and “book tickets to see Bohemian Rhapsody”. Two tasks. I would not even create a project for that. I would just add them to my family area of focus holder.

And that’s it really. Occasionally in our over-excitement to create to-dos and projects we fill our to-do list managers with a lot of unnecessary tasks and projects.

Look for the shortest route to completion.

What you should be asking yourself is: “how do I get from where I am now to where I want to be in the shortest distance and time?” In our going to the cinema example that would be simply two tasks — not several tasks such as “check calendar for free evenings”, “find out the bus timetable” and “decide what seats to book”. When you break things down into such finite detail you end up with an overwhelmingly long list and rather than make you more productive, it is much more likely to turn you into a habitual procrastinator.

If you want to become more productive, then shorten your lists. Focus more on what you want to achieve and less on the individual tasks.

Imagine you have a report to complete. Many people will create tasks such as:

  • talk to Fiona about 2018 sales

  • discuss with Terry any issues related to customer support.

  • finalise the design with Annie

  • ask Sarah about who to send the report to.

  • collect images for the report

  • write report

  • email report to recipients

Focus on the one task that will accomplish the most.

Now that’s all good and clear, but there’s a lot of tasks there that do not really need to be on your list at the start. The most important task there is “write the report” that’s the goal with this project. All the other tasks may need doing, but they are far less important than the writing of the report.

So a more effective list would be:

  • write the outline of the report

  • write report

  • finalise the report for distribution.

That gets the report written, and if you do need to insert images, get more information about sales and adjust the design you can do all that once the report is written. What you really need to do is get the report written. Images, design, customer support issues and sales data can be added once the bulk of the report has been written.

Creating lists in this way, reduces overwhelm and gets the biggest, and often the most difficult, part of the project done. Adjustments and tidying up can be done later.

This is how I manage all my projects including writing books. A book project, for instance, has around two tasks for the majority of the time:

  • write outline

  • continue writing book

Once I begin the editing, then other tasks will get added. Until the book is written, illustrations, charts and images can wait. It is only when the first draft of the book is written will I know exactly what illustrations and images I want to include in the book. So there is no point in having all those tasks at the beginning. The important thing is the first draft is written, without that everything else is pointless.

Structuring my projects in this way focuses me on the task that matters ( in this case writing the book) and keeps the less important tasks at bay. When the editing of the book begins, I will be adding many more tasks, but I am not dating those tasks. All I have is a task that says “continue editing book” and I will begin by opening up my list of things I want to add/subtract and just get on and edit.

To-do lists are great, and modern technology has embraced the humble to-do list and made collecting and organising tasks very easy. But just because it is easy, does not mean you have to go crazy and add more and more tasks to your list. You need to get creative and reduce your lists to keep them motivating, yet at the same time, they trigger what needs to happen next. The goal is to keep moving forward and making progress. A long list of tasks is only going to mean you have more choices to make, and that will inevitably cause you to delay starting doing what really matters to get the project completed.

Becoming more productive is nothing more than becoming more effective with your time. When you plan one or two things you must get done the next day and you start the day working on one of those tasks, you are going to have more days where you get important things done and feel satisfied with what you have accomplished at the end of the day. When you have a lot of those days adding up, you are going to find you start accomplishing a lot more with your available time.


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Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, please hit that like button 👍. It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.


My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.