When the first version of David Allen’s Getting Things Done was published in 2001, the world was very different from what it is today. Back then, business email was still in its infancy and the iPhone wasn’t even on Jonny Ive’s drawing board. The kind of work we did and the types of commitments we had seem almost prehistoric from the kind of work and types of commitments we have today. I would hazard a guess and say that most early GTD adaptors were using notebooks and pens to maintain their GTD system, and because for the most part GTD was analogue, a daily mini review seemed unnecessary.
But times have changed and the kind of work we do and the types of commitments we have today are very different. Email is ubiquitous. It is everywhere. On our home computers, lap top, tablets and phones. Email is today what MSN Messenger was back in 2001. The amount of inputs we receive each day has expanded also. Now it is normal to have received more than ten work related messages by the time you get off the bus.
This substantial increase in the amount of inputs our tired brains receive each day means that solely relying on a weekly review to make sure your GTD system is working is not enough. There are far too many things being dropped into our inboxes every single day. So many, that the risk of something slipping through the net has increased exponentially. If you allow things to slip through the net, then your system breaks down and you no longer trust your system. Not trusting your system is the death knell of any GTD system.
So how do you prevent this from happening?
The way to prevent this from happening is to begin forming the habit of doing a daily mini-review. The daily mini-review is a scaled down version of the weekly review. You do not need to go through every project in your system in a daily review, you only need to go through those projects you are actively working on in that week, or just the projects you have worked on. A mini review is by its nature a review of only the basics. You need to be aware of what is going on in and around your life at that moment. A mini review is not the time to review your higher life goals or your contexts. A mini review is just a review of what is going on in that moment.
As for when you do the mini review, I would suggest you do that at the end of every day. A mini review should take no longer than fifteen minutes and can be tagged on to you processing. Once you complete your daily processing, go through the projects, calls and other regular activities and check they are still functional. This way you minimise the risk of anything slipping through the cracks and being forgotten.
Here’s how I recommend you do a mini review at the end of each day:
- Process you inbox
- Are there any other things that come to mind?
- review the projects you have worked on today
- Review projects you plan to work on tomorrow
- What things do you want to achieve tomorrow? (Flag them)
- Review your calendar for tomorrow
- Quick mind-sweep
And that’s it. In my experience depending on how busy the day has been, a daily mini-review doesn’t take much longer than twenty minutes to complete, but I find by doing this last thing in the day (for some it is better performed first thing in the morning) I sleep better and I begin the next day knowing exactly what I want to achieve and what I need to complete for the day. This is truly “the Art Of Stress Free Living”
Carl Pullein is the author of Your Digital Life: Everything you need to know to get your life organised and put technology to work for you, a book about how to get yourself organised in the twenty-first century.