Your weekly review is probably the key to keeping your trusted system running smoothly and most importantly out of your mind. For years, my review was little more than going through my list of projects every Sunday morning and making sure each was in an acceptable state.
But after reading Kourosh Dini‘s wonderful book Creating Flow with OmniFocus, I’ve taken his advice and implemented a more comprehensive weekly review that covers more than just my list of projects. It’s designed to be a whole review of every system in my life that accepts incoming data or holds reference material. This holistic approach does a much better job at keeping my mind free of open loops and all of my concerns written down in a trusted location.
To start with, I now have a “Weekly Review” project filled with all the action items it takes to complete my review each week. This project is on hold so the tasks don’t pollute any of my perspectives. When it’s time for a review, I drag the project to the top of the project list while holding down the Option key on my keyboard. This tells OmniFocus to create a copy of the project rather than just re-ordering it in the list. Once the copy is created, I rename it with the date (ex: “Weekly Review 2017-09-25”) and mark it as active. I then focus on the project and begin working my way down through all the action items – checking them off as I go.
Here’s what my weekly review project looks like…
The first task is to go through all of my inboxes and process anything remaining in them. This includes, of course, OmniFocus but also Evernote, DEVONthink, and a physical inbox for postal mail. This process is pretty painless. It’s just a matter of taking a few minutes and putting everything you’ve collected over the last week into its proper, organized place.
Next up is a review of all of the projects in my OmniFocus database. I won’t go into too much detail about this. If you’re curious, you can read Getting Things Done or Creating Flow with OmniFocus – as each one talks extensively about how to do a proper review. For me, it’s a brief moment to meditate on each project and make sure 1) there’s a next action waiting to be done and 2) there are no extra thoughts or tasks about this project bouncing around in my head that I haven’t written down.
After reviewing all of my projects, I specifically pull up a perspective showing me all of the errands I have to run. This creates a solid foundation in my head of where I need to eventually go around town throughout the week. Most of these tasks don’t have due dates. Rather, they just need to be done in the near future as appropriate.
Following my errands I do a quick look over of all my custom perspectives in OmniFocus. I’m looking at each one and deciding if 1) is this perspective still relevant and something I look at frequently? If not, I delete it. 2) Is it still showing me the correct data I need to see? If not, I adjust its settings. And 3) Can I think of any other common “queries” or views of my database that I could turn into new perspectives?
The next two calendar tasks help keep me grounded. I do a quick review of what’s been on my schedule the past two weeks, which can often jog a few extra followup items out of my head. And then I get a lay of the land for the next six weeks. This, too, can shake loose tasks related to your calendar events that may have been skipped over or forgotten.
Last, is a section where I add any other recurring things I need to check in on. Currently, that’s just Google Photos as I do a review and sort of all the photos my wife and I have taken over the last week.
Finally, there’s The Pause. Dini pushes this point hard in his book and I tend to agree with its importance. This is a moment to sit back, close your eyes, and just let your mind wander wherever it wants to go. And as it does this, take note of any action items it uncovers that you can add to OmniFocus. The more stuff you can get out of your head and into your trusted system, the more energy you’ll have to focus on whatever task at hand you decide to do.
So that’s my weekly review. It takes about an hour each week, but it’s completely worth the time.