One of the most valuable components of a structured, effective, personal way of working is the weekly update.
If you in your everyday life complete and add tasks to your to-do-list, creating a continuous in and out flow of tasks, it is in itself a good thing. But it often tends to result in a situation where only the tasks of immediate importance are completed, for example the most recently added tasks or those someone recently reminded you to do.
There may be tasks here and there in the to-do-list that you added a couple of months ago, which are of vital importance for your business, but which you couldn’t do anything about at the time. Now might be the right time to complete such a task and if you do not at regular intervals go through your to-do-list, it can easily get lost in the crowd.
This is where the weekly run-through comes in. Decide upon a series of control activities that you set aside time to perform every week. Create a simple checklist you can follow so you won’t miss anything.
The run-through may for example contain the following activities:
First, skim through the vision you are aiming at when it comes to your business and/or your private life. If you are working in a big organization it may be easier to check that everything is corresponding in accordance to the long term strategic goal related to your own department/division/section.
Reflect upon whether the work you have done the past week has been in the direction of the vision. Would you like to focus on something particular in the coming week to put you on the right track again? Is the vision still attractive to you or maybe you have gained new experiences which have made you think twice about this long term goal? You might want to adjust the course slightly. Or, are you practically there already and therefore need to create a new vision? Adjust the vision if you think it is necessary.
What you have got to do
Pull out your to-do-list. Go through all the to-do-tasks and decide which of them that has to be actualized and therefore has a high priority, which ones that are already completed, and which ones that has to be removed from the list. Also add new tasks you come to think of while doing this.
What you expect from others
Open your ”waiting for”-list. Go through all the notes on what other people said they were going to get back to you with or what you have asked others to do. Consider if you have to do something to remind them, for example call or send an email. Remove those notes were the other part has done what was agreed.
Your ongoing projects
Go through your overview of your ongoing projects and add possible to-do-tasks, that is, the next step in each project. Which projects have come to a stand-still, which are completed and which ones have popped up without you having added them to your project-overview?
“Some day” or maybe-things
Go through the list of tasks you might eventually do some day, but aren’t certain you ever will get to. One example might be all those brilliant ideas that you get now and then, but which have to “ferment” before you can put them into action. Add, remove, check, actualize.
Your reference material
Go through the part of your system consisting of reference material that stand in line to be looked over and throw away what has become out of date and irrelevant. If you have got a suspension filing system, you can for example mark the upcoming folder with a piece of blu-tac which you move up one folder every week. If you are working with ordinary binders, sort out one flap a week (of all the flaps you have got in total in your bookshelves).
Go through your contact list according to the surnames that start with the letter that is next in line (that is, one letter each week) and consider if you need to define a task regarding keeping contact with each person at least one time every quarter, tertial or half a year (if you won’t meet sooner).
Go through the month that passed in your agenda and one month ahead, and add any possible tasks you come to think of when browsing what you just did and what’s coming up, to the to-do-list.
The advantage of going through the entire to-do-system once a week is that you feel confident that everything you need to remember is on the list. You can also safely add tasks you come to think of but don’t want to do right now, since you know you can trust that you will be reminded of them at least once a week so that you won’t miss the right opportunity to complete them.
To be in control of everything all the time is a utopia, but to be fully updated at least once a week makes it possible for you to focus on your long-term goals, confidently knowing that the short-term details are taken care of.
What suits you?
There are probably more appropriate activities to add to the weekly run-through. Which ones would you like to have on your checklist?
Please leave a comment below.