I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with productivity, but last year, I started a habit that seems to have stuck: the weekly review.

You’ll see a lot of folks advocating for some form of review at the end (or beginning) of the week, just to help set yourself up for success in the week to come. In my experience, there’s one huge benefit to having a weekly ritual that doesn’t often get mentioned:

The Clean Slate!

Clean Slate

All too often, it’s easy to carry a bad mood forward from week to week. Some weeks, I feel like I didn’t get as much done as I would like to, and before I had a weekly review process, it was easy to carry that pessimism forward into the next Monday. Not anymore!

Now it’s a clean slate, no matter how the prior week went. And that feels fantastic.

But for all the talk of weekly reviews, I’ve found that often people are pretty sparse on details. For me, it’s important for it to be a ritual, and I figured I’d share it with you here:

My Weekly Review Process

The way I’ve structured my weekly review is pretty simple; it consists of four parts:

Cleanup

Assuming I’m at home and able to work from my office area, I spend fifteen minutes cleaning up my workspace. This was something I tacked on after the first few weeks - not because it was really crucial as part of reviewing the week, but mostly just so I’d have a time where I’d be forced to actually do it!

The Reflection Pomodoro

That done, I sit down and open an empty file on my laptop, and start writing for twenty-five minutes. My goal is to answer three questions:

  • How did this past week go?
  • What does next week look like?
  • How are systems working?

These are deliberately pretty vague, and one week I may focus on relationships, while another week I may be talking about finances, or critical tasks that still need to get done.

The third item - systems - is an opportunity for me to reflect on the tools I’m using to try and keep organized during the rest of the week. Am I remembering to check my task manager? Did I try using notecards? Or checklists? Or am I trying to stick to a budget? Is that working? It’s a chance for me to do some thinking about the systems in my life that I want to be able to avoid thinking about during the rest of the week.

The Sharpening-the-Saw Pomodoro

I hate that name. I just don’t have a better one. Yet.

This is another twenty-five-minute session, and the goal is to give myself a chance to have some fun and work on building systems to help things run more smoothly. Maybe that means messing around with a spreadsheet. Or writing some software to make life a bit easier. Honestly, this is usually wasted time. But I frequently have ideas for little tools that will speed up day-to-day things, and this gives me a time when I can mess around with (and subsequently throw away) those projects. It’s also the “reward” for getting done with the reflection.

The Reset Session

Here, I reset things for the next week. In practice, this usually means going through my task manager and setting new due dates for past-due items. Though it also can involve taking items that were quickly scribbled down and getting them fully flesched out and organized. Or moving items from my todo list to my calendar. The goal is that I shouldn’t feel friction on Monday when I go to use my tools.

This part is not to exceed fifteen minutes of time.

And that’s it!

That’s the weekly review session. It takes about an hour and a half, and it leaves me feeling very energized for the next week. But I honestly believe that just having a ritual to close out the week is immensely helpful for creating a natural break point in my life. If you feel like you might benefit from the chance to stop and reflect once a week, I highly encourage you to give this a try!