GTD ✅ – Reflect

The next step of David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) system is Reflect. This step is focused around ensuring your system is working effectively.

There are two main components to the Reflect step. One of these is what Allen refers to as Horizons, which are used for gaining greater perspective; this is done less frequently so we will talk about this later on. However, the core component is the Weekly Review. We will focus on this component in this post.

The purpose of the Weekly Review is to keep track and on top of everything you’re working on. This has the benefit of removing this responsibility from your mind, which hopefully encourages you to relax.

Allen suggests setting a regular time each week to do the Weekly Review. More specifically, he suggests doing them on Friday afternoons. It may take a couple of hours to do your first Weekly Review, but in my experience, they get much faster as you get used to the process. This may feel like a long time, but it is worth the benefits it provides.

Here are the steps for completing a Weekly Review. It may be useful to create a checklist based on this that you can use each week as you complete your review.

  • Tidy your environment and mind
    • Add any loose papers, sticky notes, business cards, etc. to your Inbox.
    • Add anything you’re thinking about to your Inbox. These may include things to do (eg. talk to Bob about the new designs) or information you’ve gathered throughout the week (eg. an online article that may be useful for one of your projects).
  • Review your Calendar
    • Review your past week for any action items, follow-ups, or useful information that you haven’t yet collected. Add these to your Inbox.
      • For example, suppose you had a meeting with a coworker to collaborate on a presentation for the Developer All Hands. Looking back at your calendar, you recall that you wanted to schedule another meeting with them to have a practice run before the actual presentation, and also add some finishing touches to your slides. Add these items to your Inbox.
    • Review the upcoming two weeks for any action items that you haven’t yet collected. Add these to your Inbox.
      • For example, suppose the Developer All Hands that you’re presenting at is coming up. You see this two weeks out on your calendar and remember that you wanted to reach out to the organizers to clarify some logistics. Add this to your Inbox.
  • Review your Waiting For List
    • Add anything that requires follow-up to your Inbox.
  • Review your Someday/Maybe List
    • For any items that you want to start actioning on in the immediate future, move them to your Inbox.
    • For any items that you’re no longer interested in doing, remove them from this list.
  • Process your Inbox
  • Review your Active Projects List
    • Any active projects that you want to defer working on until later should be removed from this list and added onto your Someday/Maybe List.
    • Any projects that you have started or will be starting this week should be added to this list.
    • Every active project should have a next action in your GTD system.
  • Review your To-Do Lists
    • Reflect on any items that have been sitting in your list for an extended period of time. Some possible reasons for this may include:
      • Being assigned to the wrong Context. If “Write report draft” has been sitting on your Phone to-do list but you resist picking it up because you’d feel more efficient writing it with a computer, perhaps you should move it to your Computer to-do list.
      • Actually being a Project. Perhaps this next action actually requires multiple steps and should be broken down accordingly.

That is it for the Weekly Review. Depending on how your GTD system evolves, you may wish to add, remove, or change the components of your own review.

And we are now ready to move onto the final step of GTD: Engage.

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