How I Use A Weekly Review to Achieve My Goals (& Reduce Overwhelm)
Do you end each week wondering what the heck just happened? You did a bunch of admin and put out some fires, but not really sure where the rest of your time went?
I felt like that for years until I put together my simple weekly review process.
In my work with 1:1 client as well as the students in my programs and courses, the greatest gift I’ve found I can give is either clarity or focus – sometimes both.
I know that these two things are the game changers. I know you’re a hard worker. I know you’re smart. I know you’re good at what you do. But if you don’t have clarity on what you’re working towards, or focus on how to get towards that outcome – then I’ll bet you spend a lot of time wondering what the heck it is you should do. And that’s not a good use of your time, your energy or your talents.
My weekly review comes tried and tested – I've been tinkering with it all year to make it as quick and impactful as possible, which increases the chances that I'll actually do it.
I personally do this at the end of my week, so when I sit down and start my week, I already have my goals set. That works for me, but you could also do it on a Sunday night or a Monday morning. Whatever works for you.
In my weekly review, I:
Step 1: Reflect
So when I start my review, I first reflect how I went with last week’s priorities. Each week as you see I set three priorities for my week, so I start by looking at those and seeing how I went with them all. If I didn't get to them all, I like to ask myself why – and how I can make sure that doesn't keep happening? Can I postpone some less urgent work so I can prioritise this? Can I block out time to focus just on this task one morning? What can I do to ensure this work gets done?
The next thing I reflect on is this question: “what was the most impactful thing I did this week?”
Khe Hy introduced the idea of $10K work – work that is both high leverage or high impact, and also requires the best of you. The opposite of $10K work is $10 work, which is work that you can do hungover, to quote Khe Hy. So in asking myself about the most impactful work I did each week, I'm checking in with myself that I'm actually doing $10K work, not $10 work.
And the final question I reflect is if I need to ask for help. Asking “where do I need to ask for help?” is something that's become important to routinely build into my weeks because, basically, I suck at asking for help. So sometimes this is outsourcing a job – getting a gardener in one week was on this list – and sometimes it's anticipating that I'm going to need more support than usual. If I know next week is going to be busy, maybe I'll be asking my partner to help with certain tasks around the house, or maybe I'll bring in a HelloFresh box or something to make life easier.
This question has started to help me both look ahead to anticipate stress, but also slowly, slowly shed my identity of the person who does everything... maybe you can relate.
Step 2: Review
Moving onto Review, I like to review the list of goals I’m working on. Am I doing the things I know will help me reach these goals? Am I embedding the habits I need, or working towards the right milestones?
If you're interested in goal setting more generally, you may be interested in my Annual Goal Setting & Planning Masterclass, which goes from big picture bucket lists all the way down to my daily shutdown routine – it's comprehensive!
Step 3: Rank
With my goals front of mind, the next thing I do is set my top three priorities for the week. The question here is "if I only accomplish three things this week, what do they need to be?"
At least one of my Top 3 needs to align with my goals. Sometimes they all can, but other weeks there are just other things that need to happen. But at least one a week is helping me work towards a bigger goal.
Once I decide on my top three projects, I block out time to work on those things in my calendar, estimating how long they're likely to take. I'm generally pretty good at anticipating how long different projects take, but I'm not going to lie – just last week something I thought would take an hour took me six... that was a late night.
Parkinson's Law is the old adage that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. So reverse engineering your time allocation by telling yourself "I will spend no more than two hours on this" can be a good way to keep yourself in check.
With those priorities in my calendar, I then block out anything habit related, such as workouts, as well as checking what meetings and events I have – and if anything needs to be changed, moved or removed.
Now that I have that structure, I plan out all my client priorities and deliverables, again time blocking these in my calendar to ensure everything actually fits.
This just gives me a really clear picture of how I need to spend my week, and shows me where I need to make changes, such as postponing meetings or not going to events... which as an introvert is almost always welcome!
You may have noticed I use my calendar a lot for blocking things out. I believe in asking “does my calendar reflect the things I say I value?” And I really believe we can use our calendars as a tool in goal achievement instead of crowding them with other people’s priorities.
Step 4: Reset
And finally, with my week sorted, I reset before pouring that Friday afternoon glass of wine.
I first respond to as many emails as I possibly can. I do sometimes reach the elusive Inbox Zero, but even if I can't, I try to get as close as possible. I also try to get both my desktop and downloads folders empty, because... they can get a bit out of control if I don't check on that each week! I also try to close all my tabs.
To emphasise – these are things I try to do! I do not get these clear every week, but my attempt is still always good at reducing the volume in my inbox, downloads and Chrome tabs.
Finally, I'll wipe down my desk and take any lingering mugs and cups to the kitchen so my desk is clean and tidy for Monday.
And that is my weekly review!
If it sounds incredibly over-engineered and time-consuming, I want to assure you this takes me no more than half an hour, often less. And it saves me a TON of time the next week, so that alone keeps me in the habit of doing it – I can see it reducing my overwhelm, anticipating blowing out deadlines, and also just keeping me delivering good work for my clients and working on my goals.
So to recap, in my weekly review, I:
This is just a snippet of what I cover in my Annual Goal Setting & Planning Masterclass. Make sure you check that out if you want to dive a bit deep into your goal setting and planning processes.