In January 2019, I was looking for a job.
Frustrated with how ineffective the normal application process was, I decided to try something else.
Instead of sending my resume to random businesses and hope for the best, I picked out a handful of companies and wrote down tips they could implement right away. The goal was to show that I could do what I said I could. It worked, but at the time it felt like an inefficient process.
Afterward, at the end of the year, I went over my weekly reviews and it struck me that it wasn’t an inefficient process at all. What felt like ages, were only 4-5 weeks in retrospect.
4-5 weeks to find a great job is quick. Some people spend months, if not years, sending out resumes without getting a reply. Even if it works they end up with a company they hate.
But I only realized this when looking over my weekly reviews. If I didn’t have them, I’d still be wondering if giving those tips would be a good use of my time.
A weekly review doesn’t have to take long. The goal is to look at your week, see if you’re on track for your big picture goals, get some perspective, and make adjustments for the next week. You don’t need a 2-hour long GTD weekly review that you’re going to do once and never again. The bulk of the value is in doing it consistently so you can spot patterns over time.
How to do a weekly review
Set aside 10 minutes to work on your weekly review. I suggest doing it on a Saturday somewhere before noon. If you do it on a Sunday or the Monday after, the gap between last week is too big and you start to forget things. Saturday is great because it has enough of a gap after the workweek, but it isn’t enough to forget everything.
Use either a note-taking tool like Obsidian or pen and paper. If you’re planning on doing this consistently, create a template for yourself so you only have to sit down and fill it in. I’ll share my template later in the article.
First, write down how things went the past week. Use questions that make you think about what went well, what you loved doing, or what you hated doing. the goal of this first part is to take stock of where you are right now.
Second, write down what’s important to you. Use questions that highlight the parts of your work/life that will have the highest impact when you work on them. For this part, it’s good to have questions that force you to look at your week through a different mental model. Applying inversion or the theory of constraints, for example, helps you figure out what’s important.
Third, write down what you’re going to do next week. The last part is about setting an intention and figuring out your next actions. If you make it too big you’re not going to do it. Make it small so there’s no barrier to implementing it. If you do this every week, you’d be surprised with how much you can improve over the span of a year.
- Save your review.
Remember: The easier you make your review the better. Once the time is there you’re not going to feel like doing the review. Make it so easy you just have to put your butt in a seat and start writing.
Questions to ask in your review
If you’re struggling to come up with good questions to ask for your weekly review, pick a couple from each section and see if they work for you. If they don’t, use other questions or use these as a prompt to come up with your own.
- What were some highlights last week? What progress did I make?
- What did I enjoy doing the most this week?
- What did I enjoy doing the least?
- What do I wish I would have done differently this week?
- What went well?
- When did I find myself procrastinating?
- How did I feel last week?
- Out of 10, how would I rate this week?
- What people are helping/supporting me the most?
- What people are helping/supporting me the least?
- What is the biggest bottleneck in my life right now? What can I do to eliminate it?
- What am I afraid of right now? What tough decisions am I delaying?
- If I had to mess up next week, how would I do it? (use inversion to find what is crucial)
- What habits are preventing me from getting where I want to be? What can I replace them with?
- Where do I find myself losing track of time?
- What 20% of projects are bringing in 80% of the results?
- What’s one problem I can solve that would make other problems easier to solve?
- What small improvement can I implement next week?
- What’s the biggest challenge going to be next week?
- Who can I ask for help from next week?
- If I could only work 2 hours next week, what would I focus on?
My weekly review template
Below is the markdown template I use. Every week, a Python script automatically sets up my to-do list, creates a new file, copies this template, and adds a link to it in my to-do list. I just have to open the file and start writing.
**What were some highlights last week? What progress did I make? (celebrate as much as you can)** - **What did I enjoy doing the most this week?** - **What did I enjoy doing the least?** - **What is the biggest bottleneck in my life right now? What can I do to eliminate it?** - **What do I wish I would have done differently this week?** - **What am I afraid of right now? What tough decisions am I delaying?** - **What small improvement can I implement next week?** -