So now you know what the weekly review is, why it’s important for your productivity and wellbeing, you have downloaded the weekly review checklist, and you’re ready to do it.
But which day to choose, and what is the good time to do it in?
Best days to do your weekly review are usually between Thursday and Sunday, and the best times are usually between early morning till early afternoon. With that being said, the middle of the week can work, and you can do it late in the afternoon or night as well, provided that you fulfill the following tips and best practices.
Best day to do a weekly review
To be able to better choose the day to do your weekly review, you need to know number of weekly reviews you’ll do per week, duration of the weekly review, and 4 criteria you need to look for most of in a day before choosing it.
Let’s start with number
A- How many weekly reviews will you do in a week?
Generally speaking you should do 1 weekly review per week but in some weeks you can do more, and some weeks you might skip it entirely depending on the below 3 factors, 2 will increase the number and 1 will lower it.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a crazy week, with a lot of things going on in your work, and for that the best decision to ease the stress and relaxes your mind, is to do an ad hoc weekly review, even a shorter one.
This will hugely relieves the stress resulting from feeling out of control and it could make the next weekly review shorter now that you have gone through the system couple of days ago.
2- Multiple jobs
When you have one job, you do one weekly review, and you’re checking everything once.
But what happens if you’re like me, who has a primary full time job with 5 goals and 20 projects, and another personal one with another 5 goals and 20 projects?
For this, you can either have 1 long weekly review with around 4 hours weekly OR you do 2 weekly reviews, one for each job within the same duration.
Personally, I do a spaced 2 reviews in the week for 3 reasons:
- I can sustain booking 2 hours on a weekly basis but not 4 hours
- You’re doing effective weekly reviews for each job with the same levels of focus and mental energy.
- It’s ethical as many jobs, if not all, prohibit utilizing working hours to do personal or non-work-related tasks which is your weekly review for your personal job in this situation.
Obviously if you’re taking a week vacation or more, doing a weekly review then isn’t applicable for the following reasons:
- First you may don’t have access to your inboxes to clear backlog.
- Second, it’s going to be hard to update your actions and projects if you don’t have access to your recent emails or notifications.
- Third, it’s not good for your mental wellbeing to keep worrying about work related items when you’re supposed to be recharging.
This may apply to weekends if you are, like me, treating your weekends as your weekly vacations that you use to recharge and stay away from any work related actions or tasks.
That’s why personally I do my weekly review towards the end of week, but if I have to, then consuming 1-2 hours during my weekend won’t be a big issue compared to the outcome I’ll have.
Now let’s check the other point of duration.
B- How long should the weekly review take?
Generally speaking, the weekly review takes, around 1.5 to 2 hours in normal situations, give or take 30 minutes. With that being said, in some situations I say that it can take a minimum of 30 minutes up to 3-4 hours depending on 2 factors.
As things keep changing all the time, and since we all are subjected to surprises, some weeks you might be faced with a non planned life event that could cut your review window by an hour or so.
In this case you have 3 options assuming that the event can’t be postponed being an emergency for example:
A- Ignore the review completely for that week since the duration is compromised
B- Reschedule it within the same week
C- Do a minor version of it
There is no wrong or right answer here, because it will rely heavily on your assessment to your current situation, mental status, and confidence on having an updated system for that specific week.
However, most of the times, from my personal experience myself or through working with others, I find that option C is the most effective one. Doing a shorter weekly review.
In that case, I only focus on my top priority lists which includes, reviewing the actions and projects lists, checking the calendar for past and upcoming 1 week only, and spending fewer time brain dumping.
This way, it can take me around 30 minutes to be updated myself and update the system if needs be without rescheduling or ignoring it completely that week, which could be interpreted in your brain as a break to the habit pattern.
So, sometimes you could be faced with situations impacting your normal weekly review window, and doing a minor version of it in a shorter duration is an option.
On the other hand, sometimes you can get more window that you normally have. Maybe you’re having a slow week in work and the craziness levels are minimized.
Or maybe you’re traveling that day, so you have more free time with no or very minimal actions to perform in that plane or train.
In both scenarios, you can have a longer weekly review that could last to 3 or 4 hours as the window allows.
The difference here is that you can get more in depth when it comes to reviewing your projects. So instead of just checking what was done, and what needs to be done the following week, maybe you check the project plan again and evaluate it thoroughly, and you do this for all your projects.
Normal weekly review covers the basics when it’s done in the normal window, and sometimes you just need to do it on a slightly deeper level, like:
Needing to ponder on the project plans instead of just updating relevant actions.
Wanting to take your time when dumping your brain to make sure you 99% mind free.
Both are completely normal in my humble opinion and I personally, more than often, schedule to do a longer weekly reviews every other month or so to scrutinize my project plans, and I normally take around 4 hours.
C- Criteria to look for before choosing the day
Now that you know number of weekly reviews you’ll do and duration of each, it’s time to know how to choose the day itself.
Any day can work, but there are days that are better then others and provide better outcomes. Best practices are beginning of the week or 1-2 days before it ends.
When you’re choosing which day you can do your weekly review in you need to take into consideration most of the following points:
1- Slowest Day
You want to choose a day that you usually have less emails, or meetings or traveling, or physical visits.
This will give you more freedom to do your weekly review without being under pressure of doing other things or being mentally drained from having many meetings that day.
2- Accessibility to your space
If you have a dedicated physical space that you do your weekly review in, then the day you choose should be in line with that.
If you’re doing your weekly review in your office because your system is over there with the all the data that needs to be reviewed, then you should aim for a day that you can access your office in.
This is why, in the ToDo list managers toolkit, I recommended having a portable system so that you have the freedom of doing your weekly review, the basic one, almost everywhere.
For many weeks, I had to do the weekly review in the car, and I wouldn’t be able to do that without having my system portable in my phone. I can teach you how if you want
3- Beginning of the week or 1-2 days before it ends.
Doing the weekly review in the beginning of the week helps you enter the week prepared and stress free with your updated actions and projects to work on.
Doing the weekly review 1-2 days before the week ends is so powerful in being able to fix problems.
When I do the weekly review and I have this amazing sense of control and grounding, but sometimes I find myself faced with 1 to 3 things needed to be done that week.
Like couple of emails I forgot to send, or couple of requests that I didn’t follow up on, or couple of answers I should’ve gotten that week but never heard a response, etc.
When you do the weekly review on the very last day of the week, it could be too late, and this could come with a sense of “I should’ve sent those earlier”
So, doing it a day or 2 ahead, gives you time to act on the things forgotten. Now you can send those emails while everyone is still working, or you can call the person who should have responded to you and have that answer while he’s at work still.
So, if you’re last day is Friday, then aim for Thursday (optimal), or Wednesday.
Best time of doing a weekly review
Generally speaking, any time can work and for most people between early morning and early afternoon are the best times in the day to do their weekly reviews. However when you choose the time you want to have 2 factors.
1- Good mental energy and focus
Like I said, doing the weekly review is about turning yourself into a CEO for your own life, and make well informed decisions about your projects and goals.
This requires good mental energy and focus to be able to look for missing or needed actions that will take your projects, goals, and life forward.
2- Less distractions
You want to choose a time when you have the least distractions possible, be it digitally or physically.
Digital distractions could be your notifications about new emails or messages in your phone or online work platforms. Sometimes it’s not applicable to shut them down if your job is dependent on being notified.
Physical distractions include your colleagues interruptions, noise, heat, and everything that can get you off track.
As you can see from the above, there’s no one size fits all time for everyone. You just need to make sure that the time you’re choosing has very high levels of mental energy and focus, and very low distractions levels.
This could be mornings, afternoons, or evenings.