Get Your Crap Together
I'm not a productivity junkie. I don’t nerd out about my workflows. I don’t customize my keyboard shortcuts. I don’t make templates or checklists for every little thing. I’m not a power user of anything besides La Croix. To be honest, I’ve always felt like spending a ton of time optimizing and organizing and systematizing and nerd-ifying my work was just another rabbit hole to help me avoid doing my work.
So, when my productivity-and-systems-obsessed husband recommended that I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, I was beyond skeptical. "I get plenty of stuff done,” I generously thought about myself. But, it was the “stress-free” part of the book title that intrigued me to the point of reading it.
It only took a chapter or two to turn me from skeptic to true believer, and now I run most of my life and business according to the GTD method (check out the website for a deep dive).
There is one practice that he teaches in the book that I cannot imagine living without. It is the two hours of my week that literally makes everything else in my life happen. It is the practice that I proselytize to all of my friends and clients. Whether or not you are the type of person that owns a label maker, you need to consider adopting a weekly review.
What is a Weekly Review?
A weekly review is simply a time that you set aside every week to review the things that you have to do and make a plan to actually do them. It is a process to ensure that small things (and big things) don’t fall through the cracks and to help you move your most important projects forward.
The thing is, most of us already have at least some basic systems and tools in place to organize ourselves. You probably have a calendar, some sort of to-do list, an email inbox, and a file cabinet. We know how to get organized. We don’t know how to stay organized. All of our organizational systems are meaningless if we aren’t actively maintaining them.
It is kind of like having a budget. You can have the best, most detailed, most well thought out personal budget in the world. But if you don’t have a system in place for tracking your spending and making sure you are staying on your budget, what does it matter?
The same is true for personal organization. Have you ever spent an entire weekend just clearing out your email? Have you ever forgotten to pay a bill because you let so much mail pile up on your desk? Have you ever missed a work opportunity because you couldn’t get your act together in time? Have you ever forgotten an important birthday? You need a weekly review.
Why a Weekly Review is Non-Negotiable for Creative Entrepreneurs (and Everyone Else)
There are a lot of reasons why I think a weekly review should be a non-negotiable for creatives, but here are just three.
You can "wear all the hats". One thing I hear all the time from creatives is just difficult it is to be responsible for every aspect of their business. Whether you have a staff of 30 or are a solopreneur, you are probably wearing more hats than you would like. A weekly review gives you a process to manage all of the disparate tasks involved with running a business, and it also gives you the peace of mind that you haven’t forgotten anything, big or small.
You can focus creatively. You can’t get into a state of creative flow if you are trying to keep your to-do list in your head. I have said many times that my weekly review is what makes everything else in my life possible. This isn’t only because I am able to get more done (I am) but because having a good system in place helps me approach each day with mental clarity and focus.
You can make progress on your most important projects. Many entrepreneurs struggle with a sense that they can’t move their businesses forward because they spend all of their time and energy reacting to what is urgent. A weekly review is a powerful tool to transform you from reactive to proactive. Do you have big goals to achieve? A big idea to flesh out? A big problem to solve? A weekly review will keep you on track.
Let’s Do This
There are no shortcuts or quick fixes here. Building this habit, like any important habit, is going to take hard work, consistency, and patience. But, I guarantee you that it will pay off in big ways.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I get into the details of how I do my weekly review. And make sure to download my free weekly review checklist here.