Rebooting your weekly review (or doing one for the first time)
Think back for a moment to the last time you took some real time off.
Now rewind to a week before you left, when you had one week to get everything done before your vacation. For most of us, that’s when you start to feel some serious pressure that’s not there in normal weeks. So with an ever-growing stack of to-dos, you take a few minutes to make some drastic cuts. Maybe even painful cuts. I can get to this project, but those two—seeing how little time I have left—will have to wait.
After you communicate those decisions, a sense of relief comes over you and you can get to work.
A weekly ritual
Here comes the good part: you can experience that sense of relief every week. You just have to take a little time to get yourself in pre-vacation mode. My weekly review, or Friday recap as I call it in GRIP, has become a pivotal habit for me. I like doing my recap on Friday afternoons, before I head into the weekend.
Let me give you the gist up front. A recap means taking about 30 minutes to look back over your week and map out the next one. You take care of any leftover tasks you missed, and then align your plans for the coming week with your priorities, projects, and goals.
And I’ll be honest. This can be hard. It’s one of those things that everyone says they should do but few actually do. Or maybe you’re like me, when I’m trying to get into an exercise routine. My first session is always way too long, intense, and complicated. It’s like I’m trying to make it perfect and all-encompassing from the start. But that means I’ll think twice before attempting session two.
The reason I’m highlighting the ritual aspect of the Friday recap, is that while you benefit from the very first session, the benefits multiply if you do it every week. And get this: even if it’s really short.
The way to get there? Start as small as possible. Make your first session SUPER-doable.
Here’s what I suggest for a tiny—but crazy effective—weekly recap. It’s just two questions. Ready? Grab your calendar.
Looking back over the past week, is there anything I need to finish?
There’s a good chance your calendar mostly contains meetings with other people. Take just a bit of time to make sure that whatever you promised or whatever was asked of you is actually getting done, and you’ll be building trust and defusing any bombs that would otherwise go off down the road.
I do this simply by running through every item on my calendar. Sound tedious? It’s not. It’s really quick. I’m looking for any thoughts or open tasks that I need to jot down somewhere in my system. I then add those to my to-do list or calendar, depending on the urgency.
Looking ahead, how would I spend this coming week if it was my last week before taking off?
Putting yourself in a This-Is-It mindset will help surface your true priorities. What things did you promise to make progress on? Next steps for key projects? Deliverables for clients or colleagues? Anything else that can’t wait?
Now use your calendar as a place to map out the next workweek, by blocking off time for your high-priority projects and tasks. That way, you’re sure to get to them. And you add an extra line of defense for when those unexpected meetings and queries start to creep in, which they undoubtedly will.
That’s it. Those two questions. Look back, look ahead.
No need to overdo it. If you’re out of practice, spending even five minutes looking at this stuff is a win.
Have a good week!