How to do a weekly review using Things.


Frustrated by your lack of a GTD-style weekly review of the outcomes and accomplishments of the past week? Here is a short primer for all of you Things users.

It's 7am. Sunday morning. You rise out of bed early enough to grab that amazing cup of coffee and enjoy some quiet time while your spouse and kids are still resting peacefully. You had it on your calendar for this morning :

"Do weekly review".

You sit down with your iPad, you launch your calendar, and then...45 minutes later you're watching three teenagers play that cover of a Metallica song on YouTube, and your family is now up and ready to start the day.

Sound familiar? You're not alone.

I loathed the review process so much that I used to look for reasons not to do a weekly review, until I made a checklist that ensured that I got in, got out, and was thorough in my review in a short amount of time.

If you're not familiar, a weekly review is essentially a meeting that you hold with yourself every week to capture the ideas that may have slipped by you, to reflect on the past week and to ensure that there are no surprises in the one ahead.

The Goal

The weekly review process should really just be about making sure that you gather the thoughts and commitments that are important to you in a clear and concise manner to move your life and your goals forward. Whatever the goal, it must be tracked from start to finish to be certain that you don't miss any steps along the way.

That being said, the process definitely does not have to be stiff or cumbersome. Quite the contrary : the weekly review is also the time to get real creative and just let your thoughts flow. We will walk through that, but first let's take a look at the necessary tools to get this job done.

The Tools

  • Things app (on either Mac or iOS)
  • Your calendar app (the native iOS or Mac calendar in weekly view works great)
  • Your notes application (or physical notebook of choice)
  • A quiet place
  • About 30 minutes

The Steps

  • Review Things's areas on your sidebar.

Do you remember doing a mind sweep initially? Do you recall that feeling of calm once you were done? Have you done one since? If not, the weekly review is a great time to get that going again.

Look at the Areas on the left panel (iPad or Mac) or using the primary home screen of the Things app (iPhone). All of your areas of focus should be there.

Start by looking at that first area. What about that area needs to be ... :

  • completed?
  • enhanced?
  • purchased?
  • renewed?
  • input?
  • scheduled?

You get the idea.

Just repeat this process with each area, one by one, and with each new thought that comes to you about the area, simply enter it into Things' Inbox. This will help clear the cobwebs of your mind to capture what is truly important to you, but that you have been mentally holding onto.

  • Review the past week's appointments.

Check out last week's appointments in your calendar. Yes, every single one of them. Right on up through yesterday. What about each appointment remains a mystery? Was everything completed about this appointment? If not, record any new ideas in Things' Inbox. You can parse through this information later, but for now simply record it. It's amazing how many actions I thought that I had nailed down for a project until I see a meeting about it. Invariably, this inspires me to add maybe one or two more next actions that will help bring the project to closure.

  • Review the next week's appointments.

Same principle as last week's appointments, but you may want to record next actions, in addition to any agenda topics or thoughts for upcoming meetings. To that end, I would advise that you have a set of Tags within Things that equate to the names of people, teams or scenarios that you see or deal with on a regular basis. It might look something like this :

  • Agendas
    • Bob Manning
    • Jacksonville Team
    • Sales department
    • Sue Schroeder

In this way, when you add an agenda item to your Things Inbox, you can tag it appropriately for recall later.

  • Review your notes application or physical notebook.

Finally, it's very important to review the notes that you have taken in the past week. You could find scribbles like, "Bring cookies", that, on the surface, may be vague as to who should receive said cookies. But I bet that once you stare at that note, it will spark the thought that you had when you took it, which may allow for creation of a new task or project. This is the whole point of a weekly review.

Try it.

Don't believe in weekly reviews? Try one. Next weekend (or weekday, depending on your schedule), try doing a review following the steps above when you have about a half hour of totally uninterrupted time.

You may actually love doing the weekly review, after all!