Jumping to a Higher Horizon of Focus in the Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Reviews

The GTD Review is the glue that keeps my system together. But it’s often a tough habit to adopt. I’ve been able to get a daily review going which takes care of my day-to-day needs. It took care of today’s fire and look ahead to tomorrow’s schedule But it didn’t cover anything past tomorrow. My daily reviews weren’t giving me a sense of direction and progress towards my goals.

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I was finally ready to up my game and move to the Higher Horizons of Focus. I started my Daily Review in get control of my day. Next, I worked on improving my Weekly Review, Monthly, Quarterly, and Annual Review to move my path towards a purpose-filled life.


My Daily Review

My daily review currently includes:

  1. Clearing the inboxes in various apps and the physical in-tray.

  2. Reviewing any currently active (not someday/maybe) projects that I am working on this week.

  3. Reviewing the calendar to see tomorrow’s schedule.

  4. Reviewing any agenda items and waiting-for’s.

  5. Review any completed tasks and create followup tasks if needed.

  6. Planning tomorrow’s to-do list by choosing 1 Big Rock project and 3 MITs (Most Important Tasks).

  7. Journal any new thoughts, ideas, and how the day went. I record victories and things to work on.

To get to the next Kung Fu belt level, I had to construct my own GTD Weekly Review. The official GTD Weekly Review is a good starting point and is available here.


My Weekly Review

My current Weekly Review includes:

  1. Planning the Big Rock projects for next week.

  2. Look at next week’s calendar for any commitments.

  3. Review last week’s journal entries to mine for ideas and new projects.

I need to stay on top of my projects and checklists on a weekly basis. I plan my projects for the next week by balancing my calendar events with the various projects I want to work on.

Planning My Big Rocks for next week

I plot my days with the Daily Review to take care of the daily emergencies and barrage of workload coming my way. The Weekly Review is focused on specific goals for the week. These goals take form in the various active projects and Someday projects that fill up my task manager. I review all of my projects and choose three to six Big Rock projects to focus on.

Review next week’s calendar

It helps to plan ahead. I look at next week’s entries to see what lies ahead. I might have to start a new project or activate a project ahead of time to prepare for any events that will happen soon.

Mining for new project ideas in my journal

I like to review the past week’s journal entries to get a feel for how my week went. Oftentimes, I get new project ideas or suggestions on how to improve a current workflow or look for a change in mindset.


Monthly Review

I haven’t quite fleshed this review yet. I don’t do it often enough to flesh my Monthly Review yet. But I do have a few steps in place.

  1. Curate my projects

  2. Curate my checklists

Curate my projects

I look at my current smorgasbord of projects and evaluate their place in my life. Some projects may have stalled out and needs a little reboot. I rewrite the task description or break the next actions down a bit further to kickstart it. Or the project’s importance has degraded over time. Maybe my enthusiasm for a project has waned a bit. I can either defer a project to a future date when I have more time and energy to work on it. Or I can delete it if I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and not gaining traction.

Curate my checklists

I have some checklists that are daily or weekly routines. They might need some fine-tuning to reduce any needless friction. I also evaluate checklists that have single one-off tasks. I may have forgotten to check off a task or I no longer need to do it if I ignored it for too long.


Quarterly Review

This is a new realm that I am about to jump into soon. I don’t have anything here just yet but I do have some ideas.

  1. Use the 12 Week Year to choose goals and projects for the quarter.

  2. Review current projects to see if I am hitting my monthly milestones. Recalibrate my projects if I need to catch up or I need to redefine the goals to hit.


Annual Review

This is the big vision board stage. I sit down with my wife and evaluate what we’d like to work on for the next 12 months. We set our general directions here and brainstorm for projects that can bring us closer to our goals. We establish monthly milestones and re-evaluate during the quarterly and monthly reviews.


Climbing the Ladder to reach New Horizons of Focus

Each review (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual) hits a different target.

The Annual Review sets out to plan my goals for the year. I create milestones and a vision of what I would like each quarter to look like.

The Monthly Review and Quarterly Review checks on my project statuses. Am I bogged down in a current project? Do I need to re-evaluate my workload and deactivate some projects so that other projects get started now? Can I delete or defer some projects that don’t contribute towards my current quarterly goals?

I use the Monthly Review to plan the next batch of tasks that will help me complete my Big Rock projects.

During the Weekly Review, I choose the small handful of Big Rocks to work on. I try to plan out time during the week to work on specific projects and ignore all the other projects waiting for me in my task manager. I squeeze these projects in between different calendar appointments and keep buffer time in the week to handle the daily onslaught of outside requests that come in via email, messaging, and walk-in customers.

The Daily Review is where I spend my time putting out the fires and try to bring make progress in a Big Rock that I want to work on today.

I’m slowly starting to master the different review levels. I had to take care of the Daily Review first. Master my day and then I can corral the week. When I can master the Weekly Review, I can step up to the Monthly Review and go upwards all the way to the Annual Review.

It wasn’t easy. I thought I could do the different review levels. But I found lost if I didn’t get the lower levels well thought out. I’m looking forward to fine-tuning my game. I have typically lived in the “now” and not worried too much about the future. But the more in control I have of “now”, the more I look a little further into the future. I’ve achieved yellow belt at the Weekly Review level. I can see the Monthly Review is within my reach and I’m practicing on it every month. I set my foundations so that I can get to the Quarterly Review and the Annual Review.

It’s the end of the year and I’m looking forward to having better vision with the different review levels. As a matter of fact, I’m printing out this post and using it as a checklist whenever I’m not sure what I’m doing during the different reviews.

Have you mastered your review game yet? Lay the foundations by creating your checklists for the Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, and Annual Review? What do you need to review at these stages? Write them in a notebook and refer to it when you’re doing your next review!

Enjoy Life! Enjoy the Process! :man_astronaut:

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In reading your initial assessment of Daily Review, it looked like you might do this at night but this implies that you do it in the morning. Or is this an ongoing checklist that you work through throughout the day?

It’s ironic that i got this email this morning because I was in the process of constructing new daily/weekly/monthly review templates for Orgmode. Mine are obviously a lot different than yours but the concepts are similar. I’ve fallen off of my reviews since leaving OmniFocus and trying to build up a trusted system with what I really need to be proactive and not reactive.

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I actually prefer doing it at the end of the day and I don’t space it out throughout the day.

I plan tomorrow’s work by looking at perspectives such as my Agenda (waiting for’s and agenda items that needs to be discussed with other people tomorrow), a list of available actions (pick 3 MITs for tomorrow) and choose 1 Big Rock to focus on tomorrow.

Currently, I’m not a big fan of keeping my task manager visible when I’m working on the computer. It’s too tempting for me to root around there looking for another more appealing (and easier) task to work on. So I don’t look at my task manager for most of the day. At the end of the day, I pick the 3 MITs and 1 Big Rock (and the 3 next actions for this project). I write them down in my BuJo. Then I work from my BuJo. I keep my BuJo open on the desk so it is always visible. It’s too easy to switch lists or perspectives when I should return back to the Today perspective.

I do keep my task manager running in the background so that I can hit the keyboard shortcut for the quick entry screen to quickly capture tasks into the inbox. Otherwise I never try to look at my task manager unless I need to refer to it to answer a question in the middle of the day.

I’d love to see an example of this in Orgmode! Of course, subtracting out sensitive information. I’m always looking for something else that I may have missed.

Yes, I’ve been thinking of how I would do the review if I’m not in OmniFocus. Perhaps breaking it down would be helpful. I was considering reviewing my single actions checklists every other day (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). Then I review work projects on Mondays and Fridays. I might review my home/personal projects on Fridays. The intervals will vary. Not everything needs to be reviewed daily.

I think @Kourosh said it best about task managers…

Our task manager easily gets out of sync on a daily basis. Events and external factors can change a project and its importance/urgency. Perhaps a family emergency or a tornado sweeps in through town? A client might cancel an appointment which pushes the project further into the future. These are factors that a task manager won’t acknowledge unless I actively update the app.

I use the daily review to update any tasks that may be changed by today’s events or future events. Projects and tasks get out of sync quickly if not updated daily.

I get the vague idea that some don’t bother with the daily and weekly review because it might deflate them when they see how much they didn’t get done. It’s disheartening to see ourselves so busy in the daily grind but we aren’t making progress towards the goals that will improve our lives. I’ve oftentimes looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. Goals were neglected while I pretended to be busy with “busy work.”

Performing the different reviews forces me to always check my cockpit dashboard and make sure I’m headed in the right direction.

Then I use the weekly review and monthly review to set goals to work on for the week and month.

You hit the nail right on the head! I wished I had a task manager that would pro-actively know what I want. But that’s not going to happen (at least not yet). The daily review keeps me actively engaged when I am performing the daily review at the end of the day.

The weekly and monthly review allows me to evaluate my progress towards goals. I’m still trying to figure out the quarterly goals but that’s for another post.

@gnewman, I hope you’ll be able to share some of your own personal experiences with reviews and goals!

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I almost forgot! I think I need to put the Mindsweep in my weekly review and/or monthly review!

I don’t know if I need to do it daily but it might be helpful on a weekly or monthly basis.

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