Words by c.z.robertson

Getting Things Done: Reviews

2005-04-27 22:15:11 GMT/BST

I'll admit it, I'm pretty lax about doing my weekly reviews. It's not the end of the world if I don't do a review for a while, but it can prevent me getting the most from the system.

I've never really set aside a strict time at which I must do a review. I have a general principle that I try to do them at weekends, but I don't have a rule that says I'll sit down and do them at 10am on Sundays, for example.

I'm not sure quite how to deal with this problem. I could perhaps try to be stricter with myself and do them at a set time, but my experiences with those sorts of strict schedules have never been very good. I find GTD helpful precisely because it provides a framework for doing stuff that doesn't rely on strict timetables.

Or perhaps, having thought a bit about the value of reviews while writing this, I'll be a bit more enthusiastic about doing them in future.

The basic principle I have with reviews is that any action that's part of a sequence of actions should also have an entry in the projects list, and that any project should have an action in the next actions lists. I don't tend to worry too much about capturing open loops that I've previously missed. That tends to happen at any time when I recognise a stray thought as being uncaptured and it happens quite easily when you're used to the system.

I also spend a bit of time re-prioritising. It's good to be realistic about what I'm going to be able to achieve over the next week. If I'm clearly not going to manage to do something then it's just clutter on my next actions lists.

Sometimes I find that there's a task that's been sitting on my list for a long time that isn't getting done. At that point it's helpful to think about what's stopping me doing it. Sometimes it's just that I don't have time for it. Sometimes it's that I haven't broken it down far enough and it's perhaps something that should be thought of as a project, or it's really the next-but-one action and there's something I have to do before it. And sometimes it's just that it's a genuinely unpleasant task and I have to push myself a bit to do it.

A failure to do reviews is not fatal to the system. In fact, a lot of this stuff can be done ad hoc, just when you notice problems. But it's almost certainly worth spending the time on an explicit review. It helps prevent things slipping through the cracks, and it increases your confidence in the system.