Reviewing with GTD

If we want an efficient GTD system, we must have a routine of review of this one, in order to have the control and know in any moment what things we have, when we need manage a change or when we must do or execute anything.

The aim of the review is to reorganize and update the inventory information, preparing the next actions to be executed, selecting the useful information and discard the information that is no longer needed. The review checks the elements of all lists in order to plan the things to do and update the inventory, according to current circumstances. This elements update entails an adjusting of its properties (such as the priority) and the movement of elements from one list to another list.

All the principles of GTD are important and fundamental. But the review is, possibly, the most determinant principle.


Recommendations for an efficient review

Given the importance of the review, it is essential:

  • To have a dedicated time, exclusive and uninterrupted.
  • To have a quite place in order to review with the maximum concentration.
  • To acquire the habit of reviewing with often enough.


Daily review

The daily review checks the system and prepares the working plan for the current day. This review should be the first action of the day, with the following tasks:

  • Review of the agenda, in order to know the commitments today, obtaining a composition of the tasks, the time allocation and the identification of free plots to locate other tasks on the day.
  • Review the tasks by context, in order to put focus in the current context.
  • Reviewing the “Next” list in order to identify if a task can be dealt today. It is also possible to identify changes in other tasks, which can be reclassified and reorganized in other schedules.
  • Instant review of the “Pending” list, in order to know if a delegated task will be ended today or soon.

Optionally, you can perform other daily review for verification at the end of the day. The first review makes a preparation or planning of the activity for that day. The second review would serve to verify if the plan is fulfilled, identifying deviations, analyze errors and evaluate and assess the most important events.


Weekly review

At the end of the week, you will need to execute the most important review, whose goals are the following:

  • Reorganize and update all the lists, adapting them to the circumstances and the current goals.
  • Have the inventory up to date, in order to get a clear vision of it and of all its tasks. This gives you control, provides carefree and relieves stress.
  • Review and execute things pending, leaving empty the inbox every week (golden rule).
  • Evaluate which tasks have not been completed this week and why.
  • Define the objectives of next week, updating the agenda in consequence.
  • Review and update projects, updating their progress and identifying and preparing the work of the week.
  • Remember reference material and the tasks “incubator” (“Someday”), evaluating if can be necessary and feasible to start a project about it.
  • Clean redundant, duplicated or rejected tasks from the inventory.


How much time do you need to review?

The time required to perform the review will depend on factors such as workload, the number of commitments, of how much meticulous we are, the organizational chaos or the complexity of the tasks.

Once implemented GTD, the acquired habits will improve your efficiency and time taken to review. In my particular case, I do not usually need more than 10-15 minutes to the daily review, or 30-45 minutes for the weekly review.


Classifying actions

The classification of actions defines or adjusts the properties of each action, thus facilitating the decision making in different scenarios.

The classification criteria suggested by GTD are the following:

  • Context. Defines the location or the tool in which the action is performed: office, home, phone, computer, email, errands…
  • Urgency. Urgent tasks overlap the rest, because they acquire the focus and require completion as soon as possible. These tasks must allow renegotiate the delay of other ongoing tasks. The value of this criterion should be: High, Medium and Low.
  • Priority. The priority criteria will depend on several factors, such as the importance, the level of complexity or the dependence with other important tasks. This value criterion should be: High, Medium and Low.
  • Estimated time for execution. Estimating in advance how many time need the actions for implementation, will allow you to select the appropriate task according to the available time or adjust the plan or schedule.
  • Estimation of physical/mental effort. When an action is undertaken, it will require a type and amount of effort or concentration. Estimating this information will facilitate you the decision of what action to take. To assess this estimate, it is necessary to indicate whether it is a physical or mental effort (concentration), and the level of effort required: High, Medium or Low.
NOTA: Classification is essential in order to have the most concise and accurate information about each of the actions contained in our inventory. This information is key in order to make the best decisions for the organization and the execution of tasks, resulting in efficiency and productivity.


Schema of the review in GTD


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