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My weekly review: process and Notion template

My weekly review: process and Notion template

The weekly review is one of the most important habits in my productivity system. It’s a time when I have the opportunity to (1) ask myself how things are going and how I can move towards my goals, and (2) plan what to do next.

Around the web, you’ll find a myriad of approaches on how it should be done and even my process has evolved over time. Its current form is very simple in order to minimize the effort required (I’m lazy) while still keeping its usefulness.

A simple system that works is better than a complex and super-advanced one you get tired of after a month.

Every Sunday evening I open Notion and:

  1. review the closing week
  2. set the goals for the upcoming week
Weekly review Notion template

Past week review

In this first step, I look back at the closing week. This process is usually called retrospective and it’s widespread in the software development industry and particularly in agile methodologies. In my team we hold a retrospective every two weeks: we meet, each of us writes what went well and what didn’t, we discuss, and then we decide what to do.

This type of retrospective is suitable for teams, but it’s too complex for what you need at an individual level. However, even if the process I follow is much simpler, the underlying idea is the same: look at the last 7 days and ask myself how they went and why.

In a nutshell, I just check which goals I achieved, I compare them with what I planned, and try to reach some conclusion.

If I wasn’t able to complete all of them I ask myself why. For example, it could be that:

  • I didn’t work hard enough
  • the goals were not relevant
  • the planning was too ambitious
  • something unexpected happened

Even if I managed to complete everything there may be something to learn, perhaps the planning was not ambitious enough.

Also during this step, I attribute a general evaluation to the week — positive, meh, negative — which helps me, when I look at the list of past reviews, to get a sense of how things go over time.

Notion weekly review list

Eventually, I should have a more or less clear idea of what happened and what I could try to change for the future.

Next week goals

As the title says, in this second step I plan the goals for the upcoming week. Practically speaking I answer two questions that I added to my template to give me a direction:

  • What’s going to move you towards independence?
  • What’s going to help you improve (more competent, more productive, happier, etc)?

The first question reminds me to plan activities that will move me towards one of my long-term goals: to build something of my own and reach some level of independence.

This section usually contains goals related to my app and this website (or its Italian counterpart), for example: implement feature X, publish the update, write an article, send a newsletter, etc.

The second question is there to force me to plan something that pushes me to improve in some way. My goal is to make my existence follow a positive evolution trend.

Some examples of tasks that end up in this section: implement an exercise on annotation processing, take notes from Homo Deus, meditate all week, experiment with something new, etc.

After doing this my weekly review finally ends when I:

  • set up my daily to-do lists with the tasks that I will need to do to accomplish the freshly set goals
  • review the entries in my journal related to the past 7 days

Building the habit

As I mentioned at the beginning, I believe that the weekly review is one of my most important productivity-related habits. Therefore I can only recommend having this recurring moment to reflect and plan.

The routine I just described is quite lean, however, since implementing a new process is not always easy, you may want to start with an even more minimal version.

The absolute minimum is to choose only one of the two steps. You could go past week review only without planning. Or you could only do planning and skip the review.

Either way, the goal is to get to a complete process that includes both steps and is customized around your needs.

Clearly, the system I described, with the questions I listed, is built to be aligned with my personal goals. You’ll need to adapt the weekly review to yourself, for example by choosing questions that are appropriate for your needs. That’s how I did it anyway: start with something and then evolve.

In any case, I’ll leave my Notion template here, so you can use it at least as a starting point. Easy, isn’t it?