Opening your to-do list on a Monday morning can be pretty depressing. Looking at the long list can put you in a funk because you intuitively know you can’t get everything done all at once. But an investment of about thirty minutes ahead of time can help you get more done and avoid that feeling of task management failure.
My weekly planning meeting has proven to be very helpful to my ability to be more productive. I am not alone. In his book, “Getting Things Done,” David Allen popularized the idea of a weekly review meeting. His plan encourages you to set aside time to review all of your lists, calendar, email, and lose papers to clarify what you will need to do in the week ahead.
I’ve been doing that for decades. It is a big part of my Sunday night routine. Now I have a plan before I turn on my office lights on Monday.
In addition to the items cited in the GTD methodology, I review all of the notes I have taken in the previous week. I want to make sure that I haven’t forgotten to transfer any action or follow-up items from those notes to my to-do list.
I also spend time reviewing my calendar. If my week is overloaded by meetings, I have to be realistic about how many projects I can complete. I will write about controlling your calendar in another post.
Then I review my work list for deadlines that are closing in whose projects deserve immediate attention. Even in a good week, I may not be able to finish more than three significant projects. So, if I have two project deadlines in the week ahead, I know I probably won’t get many other big projects done. This allows me to set realistic expectations for the week early.
Some people like to end their week by doing a planning review on Friday afternoons. I happen to do mine on Sundays. You should schedule yours for whatever seems appropriate to your workflow. Just don’t neglect to do a weekly session. You will feel better about looking at your list on Monday morning.
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