Saturday, November 27, 2010

How to get things done: Review everything at least once a week


Now you’ve got your organizational system set up, and it includes:

  • a lists of projects you want to tackle
  • a way of reminding yourself about things that are coming up (your calendar, a tickler file)
  • a list of next actions to take

But this isn’t the sort of thing you do once and then forget about it. You’ll always be having new ‘stuff’ coming in: emails, appointments, news that ranges from surprising (your mum’s in town) to life-changing (your flat is being sold).

The trick, then, is to set aside an hour or two every week to catch up on everything that’s new in your life. You’ll have to review that new stuff (and look over your existing obligations and items on your to-do list). The idea behind this weekly review is to make sure that you know everything that’s going on in your life; the consequence of that is that you’ll feel confident that the things you’re deciding to do right now are the best possible uses of your time.

I’ve come across a couple of philosophies about what to do with the realizations that come out of your weekly review: they boil down to (a) schedule fixed amounts of time into your calendar to deal with particular issues or projects, or (b) rely on checking your to-do list to figure out what your next action should be.

I’ve tried (a) for a while, especially in a work context, but at the moment I’m more a fan of (b) … playing things a little looser is feeling both easier to maintain and easier to adapt to changing situations.

There’s a couple of deeper level reviews that you can do as well; the only one I’ll mention in any detail is that after I finish my two ‘New Things’ – the projects that I’m especially focusing on at the moment, I review my projects lists and goals for the year, to decide what my new New Things should be.
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