The Power of the Yearly Review

GTD methodology call of frequent review of projects and associated task lists. In fact, the whole system crumbles if this critical operation is not performed regularly; you need to trust that it contains everything in order to make the right decision at the right time with regard to which task(s) to take on at any given moment and not miss anything. However to enable you to make these daily decisions that move you toward a larger goal, the latter needs to be established up front and also revised on a regular basis. Enter the yearly review!

While, you may want to review your short-term goal(s) on a more frequent basis, the yearly review is a time to perform a few key tasks, which you might want to incorporate into a yearly maintenance project that contains recurring tasks.

Reflect

  • Have my decisions/actions in the past year move me toward the longer-term goals I set for myself? 
  • Did I meet my short-term goals? 
  • Is there in missing actions that should be accomplished in the coming days/weeks to close some gaps? 

If so, it is time to get them all of your head and into your task manager (and do a bit of planning).

Plan

  • What is(are) my goal(s) for the coming year? 
  • Is the state of my system ready to tackle them: do I have all of the projects and next action items ready to launch me toward that (these) goal(s)?

If not, it is time to get them all of your head and into your task manager (and again do a bit of planning).

Review your long-term goals

  • It is also a good moment to review what GTD refers to as “the higher altitudes views”: 5, 10, 20 years and lifetime goals. These will strongly influence your early goal(s).

Tidy-up

At this juncture, you should:

  • Archive completed projects (ideally along related e-mails if applicable) and get them out of your ongoing projects materials (either digital or physical). 
  • Review all remaining projects and make sure they still correspond to your need and have next action items ready.
  • Get any last-minute ideas, projects or tasks out of your head. 
  • Ask yourself if your system is still serving your planning and documentation need adequately. This is a good time to make small adjustment (or large adjustment if it cannot keep up with demands) to your system.

With everything out of your mind and into paper or in your digital task manager,  you are ready to spend a relaxing, worry vacation. Not only will you feel better when you come back to work but new ideas will pop up and generally productivity is increased!

How much time is needed?

I systematically reserved two days before leaving for the Xmas break every year to perform the above tasks. Depending on how things went in the previous year, it could be more than enough but I could also need a few more hours on a 3rd day to complete everything. Milage will vary, so you should give yourself enough time. This is an investment in yourself after all…and it will pay itself back easily as you start the new year.

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