How I Gradually Improved My Review Process

Improve your weekly review process
wrote this on April 22, 2013
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Today, my review process is quite effective, but that was not the case when I began. Nobody starts as an accomplished reviewer.  My first weekly review was all over the place; it took me quite a while to develop and improve the way I review.

As a GTD® practitioner, I review my work quite often.  It provides insights into my work process; insights that we all seem to overlook when we are doing our daily battle with chores, tasks, and the unexpected emergency.  Following an effective review, I always feel relaxed, in control, and surer that I am not only getting things done, but rather getting the right things done.

But reaching the state in which I effectively control all the moving parts of the review process required quite a lot of testing, research and even mentoring of sorts.  This journey led me to a few eureka moments, a few periods in which I fell of the wagon, and victories in the form of climbing back up.

I did a lot of erase and rewind as a result because there’s no one way to do it.  Below are some of the techniques and tricks I used to get to the level I’m at today.  I’m sure you have a few too and I’d like to hear about them in the comment section :)

Let’s begin…

Review process: office compared to home

Although it makes more sense to review your work while actually at work, it’s better to review your work at home, and there’re a few reasons:

– We need to take our time while we’re reviewing.  At work, at least for me, it’s difficult to find an uninterrupted period of time.  Rushing makes our work review process less effective.

– It’s harder to see the big picture while you’re still connected to the source. Disconnecting from the environment you’re working in can help identify patterns that you were previously unaware of.   Ultimately, helping you conduct a review process much more effectively.

– This is where it starts to be a bit unintuitive: a recent study suggests that we’re basically honest at heart, except when we’re at the office . That’s a problem because the review process requires an honest “no B.S.” approach.  Although most of us work better at the office, our review of said work is riddled with the influence of our environment.  You are calmer at home, thus you review is better.

– Mixing work and home life stinks? Apparently that’s a good thing! Being a bit grumpy because you have to take your work home is a good thing. In general, negative mood triggers a more attentive, careful thinking, which helps us pay greater attention to the external world according to a study conducted by Professor Joe Forgas from The University of New South Wales.

As I mentioned before, honesty makes you a better reviewer. Mix said honesty with a dash of grumpiness and you’ll get the most out of your review in terms of environmental influences.

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Always keep testing

As I said, reviewing has a learning curve.  The more you’ll do it the better you become. I sum up the number of tasks I review each week. In the end of the month I run a comparison table in which I compare effort and time invested vs. the results I was able to produce for said week.  Sounds a bit insane but it works for me, and is actually quite addicting.  During the week as I complete my tasks, it’s in the back of my mind and gives me an added push.

I use this progress chart so I can isolate various elements and events; helping me to get to the bottom of what made me more (or sometimes less) efficient than the previous week.

The metrics I check range from the type of tasks completed, time it took, progress on projects compared to last week, and quiet important, situations/elements that were present that may have influenced my performance.

This is how I found btw that my work review process is much more efficient when conducted on Wednesdays compared to weekends.

Master filtering and organizing

Besides your environment, time, and testing the various elements during your review, you also need an excellent tool to help you filter and organize your email, calendar, tasks, notes, and projects.

One of my key lessons was to keep my lists manageable.  I often abandoned my process and tool once I found that my action list had grown to 200 + to-do’s.  It simply became overwhelming.  One of my golden tips is to pick a number that you believe it manageable for you; if you are wondering my magic number if fifty.  During each weekly review, look at your actions: are they meeting your current priorities and objectives?  Are they really someday items?  Should they be in your Tickler list and not clogging up your Action list?  Are they really Calendar Events?

In IQTELL, everything is in one place; saving you the time of hopping between apps, emails, and Calendars.  We’re about to launch IQTELL in the coming weeks; make sure you hit the ground running when we launch, utilizing all out app’s features and capabilities.

Until next time.

* GTD® is a registered trademark of the David Allen Company. IQTELL is not affiliated with the David Allen Company.

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6 responses to “How I Gradually Improved My Review Process”

  1. Doug Hankel says:

    Haim, the weekly review process continues to allude me. I know I need to do it, but I side step it – maybe out of a fear of what I haven’t accomplished, but your tips about doing the review from home, and the act of keeping the tasks/actions to a 50 or so count sound good. You mentioned that in the past you have had some mentoring on your review list. I think having a person do the weekly review with me would force me to spend the appropriate time and effort in the weekly review. Any tips on how to enlist a person to help you in a weekly review?

  2. I’m a fan of weekly reviews on Tuesday afternoon, I’m self-employed and work from home but I take myself off to a coffee shop with a pad of paper and my laptop and review everything there for an hour. Pairing it with the break from routine and good coffee makes it feel less of a chore and capping the time to about 40-60 minutes stops it drifting into micro-planning!

    • Team IQTELL says:

      An excellent approach, changing your environment gives a great boost to productivity. When something doesn’t feel like a chore, you do it more (it even rhymes :)

  3. Daniel G Taylor says:

    Before IQTELL, I found the Weekly Review a tedious process that took forever. I have my third one using underway and I’m making a massive dent in the clutter. I now have a to-read file I can carry with me everywhere I go, I’m making progress on all my important projects and actions, and I’m close to achieving Inbox Zero. This is a seriously amazing app that does what it says on the box.

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