Planning Your Year, Part 4: Keeping the Momentum Going and Staying Productive with Weekly Reviews

This is the fifth in series of posts about planning your most productive year. If you don’t think you need to plan, check out: 5 Reasons to Plan for the New Year. If you’re ready to dive in, start here:

How to Perform a Weekly Review

I believe a weekly review is the most important meeting of the week. It sets you up for future success.

After you’ve established your Weekly Plan—and worked it once—the Weekly Review becomes your de facto planning session. You won’t have to do both. The review process is part reflection – looking back at how the week went—and part projection—looking forward to seeing what’s coming up next.

Here’s the Process:

Reflect on the Previous Week

Look over both last week’s calendar deadlines and your to-do list. Did you get everything done? If not, what prevented you from doing so? Did you forget any tasks? Did you schedule enough time to complete them? Or, did you schedule too many thanks? Could you have arranged tasks differently to avoid problems? What will you do differently next week in order to get everything done?

Keep the answers to these questions in mind as you think about scheduling and blocking time on your calendar for the following week.

Some people find it cathartic to write out these questions and answers on paper (or electronically) and keep a record of it. This can be useful, particularly if you’re asked for process feedback at the end of a project: you’ll have a week-by-week record.

The answers can also be used in the reflection part of your review each week. If you respond “no” to “Did I get everything done this week?” for six weeks in a row, you may need to look for underlying issues either in the workplace or yourself.

Gather All the “Loose Ends”

This is a combination brainstorming session and list-making session.

First, write down everything that’s on your mind. Write down urgent items, pressing items, ideas, feelings, thoughts…anything. Some of these things will be worked into your weekly plan, most will probably be there already (tasks, deadlines, etc.), some are just stray, cluttered thoughts you’ll ignore.

(Consider setting a timer for five or ten minutes because it’s easy to get carried away and just keep writing.)

The idea here is to relieve the stress these thoughts place on your mind. Since you’ve captured them, you’re free to forget about them. This exercise is also helpful by enabling you to start next week’s planning with a clear mind.

Next, pull together any requests or tasks that have come from co-workers or management via email, phone, by the water cooler, etc. these will take the form of sticky notes, scribbled requests on scratch paper, and electronic files. Add them to your to-do list and discard the scraps and files.

Finally, re-read all the meetings and tasks on your calendar for the past week. Did you forget any task? Did you forget to follow-up with someone after a meeting? Did you commit to something in a meeting that you now have to schedule? Add these items to your to-do list as well.

Schedule Next Week’s Goals and Tasks

Transfer next week’s goals from your monthly calendar to next week. If you haven’t already, make your list of what tasks need to be accomplished in order to meet the goals and deadlines. Schedule time on your calendar to work on those tasks. (See this post for why you’re planning from the monthly calendar.)

Look Ahead Two Weeks and Beyond

Once you’ve scheduled the current week, it’s a good practice to look ahead at upcoming commitments. Do you need to do anything in advance to meet those deadlines? Is there time in your current schedule to get a head start on those tasks? Do you need to re-arrange anything based on the to-do list you just created? Or, do you need to re-schedule upcoming obligations on future dates because you realize that you need more time to accomplish current tasks? Add these to your to-do list so they’re not forgotten.

You’re Done!

Kelly Harmon is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. By day, she is the Webmaster of the National Agricultural Library, where she spends her time analyzing web statistics, supporting the various NAL web sites, and writing the occasional article for Tellus Magazine, produced by the Agricultural Research Service, USDA. By night, she is an award-winning journalist and author, and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association. She’s a bit of a word-nerd, and relies on her planner to keep life sane. You can read her posts here.

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