How to Conduct a Weekly Review to Do More of the Right Things


Ali Abdaal (a well-known voice in productivity and known for his time management strategies) expressed a sentiment, in one of his tweets, that many of us share:  some habits, like a weekly review, are incredibly beneficial, but difficult to maintain.

If you frequently juggle tasks, feel overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list, or want to enhance your productivity and clarity, then the weekly review is what you need.

In this blog post, we'll talk about what a weekly review is, why it shouldn’t just be a 'nice-to-have' but a cornerstone of a well-organized life, and how to conduct one.

What is a Weekly Review, And Why is it Important?

A weekly review is when you set aside time each week to look back on what you’ve learned, what progress you’ve made toward your goals, and what adjustments need to be made to keep moving forward effectively.

A weekly review helps you keep your life and work in order while ensuring you're learning, growing, and moving in the direction you want to go.

Here's why it's such a good idea:

  • Learn from the past: By looking back at what happened in the last week, you get a chance to think about what worked and what didn't. This isn't about beating yourself up over mistakes but understanding them so you can do better.
  • Celebrate achievements: It's easy to overlook the small wins when you're busy chasing big goals. Taking time to recognize what went well not only boosts your mood, but also motivates you to keep pushing forward.
  • Cement learning: When you jot down something new you've learned each week, you're not just making a note of it; you're helping your brain lock in that knowledge. This can be anything from a new skill at work to a personal insight.
  • Make a plan: Planning your week isn't just about listing tasks; it's about thoughtfully considering what's important and what's realistic for you to achieve. This helps you set priorities that align with your goals and your actual schedule, making your week feel less overwhelming and more in your control.

An intentional reflection ensures that you're not just busy, but meaningfully engaged in activities that contribute to your broader vision of success and happiness. Through these weekly checkpoints, you gain insights into your habits and working style, offering numerous opportunities for personal growth and improvement. This strategic approach allows for a deeper sense of satisfaction and progress, knowing that you're making choices that truly fit who you are and what you want.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Your Weekly Review

Set a specific time for your review

A set time each week helps establish a routine, making it more likely that you'll stick to doing the review. A dedicated time slot also allows you to mentally prepare and gather thoughts, making the review more effective.

Many people find Friday afternoon effective because it allows them to wrap up the week and plan for the next. Doing the review on Fridays also provides a psychological end to your workweek, allowing for a more relaxed transition into the weekend.

If you use Sunsama, it will prompt you every Friday to reflect on your week & show you how you spent your time:

While Friday afternoon is a straightforward choice for many, it's worth considering more nuanced factors if you're looking to tailor this practice even further to your personal and professional life. These additional criteria can help refine your decision:

a) Reflective mood: Choose a time when you naturally feel more inclined to reflect and think deeply.

b) Work cycle: Align with the end of your typical work cycle, whether it's Mon-Fri or another pattern.

c) Energy levels: Opt for a moment when you're mentally alert and not exhausted.

d) Interruption risk: Select a time when you're least likely to be disturbed by others.

e) Weekend plans: Consider how your review might impact or be impacted by your weekend activities.

f) Preparation for the next week: Ensure there's enough time after the review to act on any planning or adjustments.

g) Review duration: Factor in how long your review typically takes and when you can fit that block of time into your schedule.

In Sunsama, you can turn on the weekly review feature and choose which day and time works best for you. If Friday afternoon doesn't suit you, just pick another day and time that fits your schedule. Try Sunsama for free for 14 days to experience a smooth weekly review session.

If you toggle the settings to include weekends in your reviews, Sunsama also accounts for any work done outside the conventional workweek to ensures your review is comprehensive.

Review your week

As you start your weekly review, remember to focus on the specifics and not to see it as a checklist you have to complete. It's a chance to gain real insight into your personal and professional growth, rather than feeling like it's just a pat on the back or a slap on the wrist.

To facilitate a review that is both meaningful and effective, consider starting with these questions:

  • What specific tasks did I complete successfully this week?
  • What specific tasks did not go as planned, and what can I do differently?
  • How much progress did I make on my main goals?
  • What new skills or knowledge did I gain this week?
  • Do I feel there's a work-life integration or is there an imbalance I must look at?

With each question, don’t just answer it—think about what those answers mean for the week ahead and how they can lead to concrete steps for improvement.

The beauty of a personal review is its flexibility. The questions above are a starting point. Depending on your unique situation, you may find some questions more aligned with the aspects of your life you want to review. Here are some extra questions you might consider including:

  • What brought me the most joy this week and how can I incorporate more of that into my life?
  • What drained my energy the most, and how can I minimize or eliminate it?
  • In what areas am I feeling the most satisfaction or dissatisfaction with my progress?
  • Who are the people who supported me this week, and have I expressed my gratitude?
  • What are the biggest distractions I encountered, and how can I reduce them going forward?

Feel free to add, remove, or tweak these questions to fit your life. The goal is to create a tailored review process that works for you—one that provides clarity drives your decision-making, and ultimately shapes a week that aligns with your personal and professional aspirations.

Audit your time spent

It's a good practice to record how you spend your time each day, whether that's through a digital tool, app, or a simple notebook. This comes in handy during weekly reviews where you can compare how much your time was spent on working toward your goals versus other activities.

Running a timer on a task while you work on it is a great way to record the actual time accurately and stay focused. Sunsama allows you to do this in a few clicks — open the task, click on the 'Start' button and you're done.

Once you have a record of time spent on different tasks, ask these questions:

  • How much time did I dedicate to my main goals?
  • What tasks took up most of my time?
  • Did I spend time on things that weren't as important?

This reflection helps you understand if your efforts align with your priorities.

Keep your answers for your reflection questions brief and to the point— 40-50 words per question. You could write them down in a journal, or even scribble them in Sunsama. The simpler you keep this process, the more likely you are to stick with it week after week.

Think about your big picture

The last part of your weekly review is about asking, "Am I on track to where I want to be in a month, a year, or five years?"

Whether you’re aiming to grow a business, get a promotion, or start a blog, it’s good to check in regularly and ask yourself if these are the goals that you still want. And if so, are you actually moving closer to achieving them?

Life has a way of pulling us in unexpected directions, and without these moments to pause and assess, we might find ourselves far from where we intended to go. Recognizing early if you’re veering off track can be a real time-saver, allowing you to adjust your sails sooner rather than later.

Tips to make your weekly review effective, and not feel like torture

  1. Reframe your perspective: Instead of viewing the weekly review as a burdensome task, try to see it as an opportunity for personal growth, reflection, and goal-setting. By acknowledging the benefits of this practice, you may find it easier to approach it with a more positive attitude.
  2. Reflect, rather than criticize: Weekly review is to reflect, recalibrate, and re-energize your efforts toward your goals, not to serve as a session for self-criticism. Refrain from beating yourself up for hitting a few goals. Pay attention to the language you use during your review. Replace negative self-talk with constructive, encouraging language. For example, instead of saying "I failed to complete X," you might say "I will explore new strategies to complete X next week."
  3. Break it down: If the weekly review feels overwhelming, break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. Start with a simple review of your accomplishments, challenges, and lessons learned from the past week. Gradually, you can incorporate other elements, such as goal-setting, task prioritization, and schedule planning.
  4. Make it enjoyable: This could involve choosing a favorite spot, playing calming music, or having a special beverage or snack. A comfortable and pleasant environment can transform the review from a task into a cherished ritual. You could also reward yourself with a small treat or activity after completing the review.
  5. Find accountability: Consider involving a friend, colleague, or accountability partner in your weekly review process. Sharing your progress, goals, and challenges with someone else can provide motivation and support, making it less likely for you to skip or neglect the review.
  6. Customize the process: Tailor the weekly review to your personal preferences and needs. If you find certain aspects of the review more valuable than others, focus on those areas. Experiment with different methods, such as journaling, mind mapping, or using productivity apps, to find the approach that works best for you.

Final Thoughts

Now that we've explored the ins and outs of conducting a successful weekly review, it's your turn to make this practice your own. The real magic happens when you step away from this screen and put these ideas into action.

Think about what you could do differently this coming week to be a little more productive, a bit more balanced, or even just slightly more mindful of where your time goes. And don’t worry if the thought of starting feels overwhelming—start small, make it a routine, and you'll soon see the benefits unfold.

If you're keen on making weekly reviews a seamless part of your routine, take advantage of tools designed to streamline this process — like Sunsama.

Sunsama is a daily planner for busy professionals built to help them organize tasks, reflect on accomplishments, and plan for the future. Claim your free trial here, and try it for 2 weeks — all without requiring a credit card to get started. Take the first step and sign up for Sunsama's free trial today. It’s a simple, no-risk way to discover how much more you can achieve with a little structure and reflection.

And as always, keep tweaking your weekly review until it fits just right.

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