Every week on a Sunday, I write a 'Weekly Review'. It's come up in a few conversations recently, so I wanted to write how I go about this, and the benefits I've felt from doing so.
The idea of a weekly review is to learn from things that could have gone better and aim for each week to be better than the last, through a combination of reflection and preparation.
I split my Weekly Reviews into three sections:
- Weekly Retro
- Weekly Reset
- Weekly Planning
When I was running Stairway, we ran regular round-robin retros at the end of every other week, which is a practice that I've encouraged at several other companies since then. If you're working in a leadership position in a company context, I'd encourage reading an article on this topic by Dave Bailey.
The same principles apply for doing this personally, but with a lighter weight version. I do this by asking myself these three questions:
- What went well in the past week?
- What didn't go well in the past week?
- How can I make improvements for next week?
For each of these, I try to write down between 3-5 things.
Resetting for the week
I find it valuable to start with a clean slate each week. To do that, I ensure that I've actioned all emails and messages that have accrued over the week, processed tasks that have built up (deciding when to do them, or just doing the quick ones in the moment). For me, all tasks feel like they weigh the same, so clearing many quick ones sets the week off in a positive direction.
I also write down in an empty note all of the tasks that are on my mind, regardless of whether I've added them to the application that I use to manage my tasks (Things 3). Every week, I find that there are obvious things to be done that I've not added, and not having these within my system adds unnecessary mental cycles to figure out what I need to be doing at any particular time.
Planning for the upcoming week
Similar to above, I take another clean note, and write down a few priorities for the week. Again, I find it important to start with a clean note and write these down from scratch, rather than referring back to something that I've created in the past. Priorities can change, and I have found that I'm much more likely to be attuned to the current priorities than past planning. If there are goals that I'm working to, I will know that and work that into the items that I write down, but I find it important to start from scratch each time - it reduces overwhelm.
I then look at my calendar and roughly allocate time to specific areas of work that I need to get done during the week (this is only rough as the time it takes to create more specific estimates is not worth the efficiency gained). I already have time blocked in my calendar to handle routine activities, like email + going to the gym.