Part of the GTD 5 Stages of Mastering Workflow is “Review” (the others are “Collect”, “Process”, “Organize” and “Do”.)  As described by David Allen in Getting Things Done, “You need to be able to review the whole picture of your life and work at appropriate intervals and appropriate levels… . [Review] is where you take a look at all your outstanding projects and open loops…on a weekly basis.”

The GTD system is about getting things out of your head and written down or stored somewhere. Well, to make use of all that stored info you need to take the time to look at it every now and then.  David Allen suggests a weekly review. At which time you would (at a high level):

  • Collect loose papers and materials
  • Get your “inbox” to zero
  • Empty your head
  • Review action lists
  • Review past and upcoming calendar info
  • Review waiting for lists
  • Review your projects
  • Review trigger lists for personal and professional items (scan through all aspects of your life.)

I’ve found that for me (and the system is about what makes sense for you) a more frequent review is needed.  To help me get there, I’ve created a Daily Review Checklist. I use this at the start of my day to help ground me and focus my efforts for the day. I don’t do a deep dive into each of these, but I scan through to be sure that I am working on the right things.  Here’s my current list:

  • Check Lotus Notes calendar for the day (what meetings, appointments I have for the day.)  This helps me decide if I need to do any preparation for a meeting.
  • Get Lotus Notes “inbox” to zero. Process through all new mail and decide “Actionable or Not”, “Do it, Defer it, Delegate it.” Yeah, I do get my inbox to zero almost every work day.
  • Review Lotus Notes “@Work” folder. This contains my “next action” emails. Many of these were moved from my Inbox.
  • Review Lotus Notes”@Waiting” folder. This contains emails I’ve sent to others in which I’m waiting for a response. If the response is due, I can send a follow up email. If I’ve received the response I remove the email from the folder.
  • Review my “@Work” next action list in my organizer.  If you read about my GTD system you’ll know I’m a paper-based kinda guy.
  • Review my “@Wait4” list in my organizer.
  • Review maRSS reader for interesting blog, wiki, or dotMars posts that I want to add to my “reading”
  • Review Gmail and get inbox to zero (not real good a this one.)
  • Review Google Reader for interesting blog articles to add to my “reading”
  • Review paper-based Work folder for items I’ve placed there that may need action.

Overall, this daily review can take between 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on how many items are out there.  But when I’m done I have good feeling about my work and my day. I feel I understand what the most important things I need to work on today based on the time I have.