Your world is made up of more than one workspace. There is more to who you are and what you do than your “job.” Because if this, reviewing your world on a regular basis is super important.
When I started introducing a weekly review into my workflow it seemed like a logical fit to do it on a Friday afternoon. The problem I encountered was context. Because I was usually at my desk at work on Friday afternoons it felt like the only thing I could review was that kind of work. The weekend would hit and I would be left feeling free! A little too free. Sure I had the regular parental commitments (sport/ballet etc) and the regular home washing stuff, but aside from that there was nothing… Or so it seemed.
One day (while letting the kids run around at the park) I opened Asana on my phone and switched worlds to my Personal Projects. Having some time to kill I lazily flicked to my list of all projects and casually went through each one. This was an eye-opening activity. As I reviewed each task I had created for myself I was continually struck with thoughts like “oops, forgot about that”, “wow that’s old and not needed anymore” or “I did that ages ago, didn’t I?”
It was then that I realised the obvious truth: there is more to life than work, and those extra things need just as much attention.
My Weekly “Real-Life” Review Process
When reviewing your projects do not forget about the things you have going on on the periphery of your current context. What I mean is, don’t let your current situation blind you from everything that you have going on in your world. Here’s my new process for executing a comprehensive review of everything I have going on:
- Process my email inboxes – both work and personal. Emails I wish to keep are archived, others are deleted, but the important ones, the ones I really want to keep handy, are forwarded to Evernote. I actually work on doing this daily so that the task is not as overwhelming on Friday, it also helps to keep my updated on what’s going on.
Further reading: The 4-Systems of Ultimate Productivity: 1. Capture
- Process my Evernote Inbox – this is a logical follow on step from processing my email inboxes since some of those emails will find there way into Evernote. At this point I review each note, adjust the titles and tags, and file in the appropriate notebook. If needed I’ll also link the note to other existing notes, building on a particular index of related information. Should any note conjure an action I, or someone, else needs to take I will quickly add a new task to Asana.
- Review recent notes in Evernote – using a saved search I pull up all my notes that have been modified in the last 7 days. I then review each one to make sure it’s currently. Often this process produces additional tasks that need to be actioned or followed up. Again, these are immediately added to Asana for processing.
Further reading: The 4 Systems of Ultimate Productivity: 2. Reference
- Review weekly summary and mini goals – opening my Evernote Planner to the current week I review all the appointments I had locked in and evaluate whether they actually occurred or were moved or canceled. I then go over the summary I had written for the week along with the mini goals I had defined (more on this later). For each I decide whether the goal was met and if so it gets a tick. If not, I consider whether the goal is still applicable for the coming week and if it’s nature has changed or not. For the mini goals that are still valid I add any missing next actions to my task list in Asana.
- Review Tasks and Projects in Asana – starting with my work Workspace, I will start by reviewing the My Tasks list, including everything marked as Upcoming and Later. I review each task and decide if an update is required, if the due date or priority has changed, or if the task is no longer needed. I then ensure that the tasks I wish to complete in the following week are added to the Upcoming section. Next, I move on to reviewing each project I have marked as a favourite. Here I perform the same actions – updating, prioritising and adding tasks. Finally, I review a few saved searches to look for tasks across other projects where I am involved and am waiting on input. I also look at all the tasks I managed to complete over the last 7 days just to make sure I’m making good progress across my projects. Next, I will move on to each of the other workspaces I use, landing lastly on my Personal Projects. Here I also pay special attention to what bills are due in the following 7 days, what things need to be done around the house and more.
- Update my calendars – based on all the activities I have reviewed and created, and meeting invites I have received, I review what my calendar has for the coming week. I often block out chunks of time at this point to work on tasks since a lot of my time is at the mercy of others booking it. This ensures I have enough time in the week to get my (real) work done, and not just be sitting in (often superfluous and unstructured) meetings.
- Build a plan – with all my notes and tasks now reviewed, and my commitments locked in I take a step back and take in the bigger picture. Using my Evernote Planner I note down those appointments that are locked in and then add some other objectives I would like to get done. Finally, I spend some time just describing the upcoming week, the workload I’m expecting and the kinds of goals I’m setting for myself. I then identify three to five areas of focus for the week. These are the things that if completed will let me class the week as a success. I mark these with an empty box so that I can tick them off later. They are not so much tasks that I would put in Asana, but more like mini goals. I leave half a page so that at the next review I can look back at what my plan was for the week and reflect on how accurate or inaccurate it was, what went right and what went wrong (see step 4).
This entire process is highly rewarding. It allows me to start the working week with a clear vision of what needs to be done and when, and the goals that I’m working towards. Come Monday morning I review my Evernote Planner and the areas of focus I had defined. This fuels me to resolve outstanding issues and work hard on my goals for the week, keeping them top of mind.
What’s unique about my review process is just that – it’s unique. And I believe that’s how each weekly review should be. We all work very differently and live very different lives, and while we can take advice from blogs, or books, or anything else, ultimately, those recommendations need to be moulded to suit your own particular workflow. But one thing that should be maintained regardless of your process is that that process must include everything you have going on in your life!
Evernote Every Day
Find out more about processing your inbox with Evernote with Evernote Every Day: Getting more out of Evernote.
Do Better With Asana
Discover how you can easily manage everything you need to do with Asana in Do Better With Asana.