Today, I bring you a guest post from my good friend, Larry Port, Founding Partner
and Chief Software Architect for Rocket Matter, LLC (www.rocketmatter.com), a web-based law practice management system. You can follow him on Twitter here:
GTD For Legal: The Weekly Review
As part of our weeklong legal efficiency-fest, we’re discussing the Getting Things Done productivity system in the context of a law firm. Each day this week, we’ll write guest posts at prominent legal blogs exploring the system in more detail.
A perfect way to wrap our Legal Getting Things Done Week is a discussion of the Weekly Review, one of the most important ideas in the GTD system. In fact, I would argue that if you were going to take away one thing from GTD, implementing the Weekly Review will keep you in touch with your priorities and prevent your organizational system from coming unhinged.
What is the Weekly Review?
It’s a simple concept, but harder
than it sounds. You need to find an hour or two each week.
Block off time on your calendar where the phone can’t ring and the
door can’t open. For a busy attorney this can be very difficult,
since deadlines, opposing counsel, and judges can pop in at any time.
We have some ideas about scheduling later on in this post.
In these review sessions, you
must clear your head and process everything that happened that week.
Any notes jotted on legal pads, calendar appointments, or loose ideas
need to be gathered up and captured. It’s also a good time for
a mini Mind-Sweep (click
here to read our post on Mind-Sweeps).
Once you capture all of your loose ends, take a look at upcoming calendar events and determine any actions they need. Then, organize your inbox into lists and review everything. According to the GTD book, you’re done with your Weekly Review if you can say “I absolutely know right now everything I’m not doing but could be doing if I decided to” (Getting Things Done, Chapter 8).
Review your projects and take note of their status. Examine your Next Action and Waiting For lists to check off anything completed and note supporting actions that might need to occur. Look at your “Someday/Maybe” lists and see if you’d like to promote a project or remove ones that no longer hold your interest. If you missed our discussion on some of these list categories, click here for an explanation.
Why is the Weekly Review of such paramount importance?
Busy lifestyles aren’t the problem. It’s when an individual has a constant whirlwind of activity and doesn’t take time to organize action based on priority. Attorneys, who live under the threat of looming deadlines, get called away to handle emergencies, and have family commitments, can quickly become overwhelmed by responsibilities. The result is that individuals constantly find themselves in “reaction” mode, leaving the individual unfocused, and when the dust clears, there’s not a system in place to handle activities in an organized way.
The Weekly Review allows you to operate as your own CEO. Your Next Actions will descend from your priorities, and you can see each project or matter from a clear perspective. You will also permit yourself to play catch-up with all of the incoming bits of information you collect throughout the week (that you can’t possibly deal with as they stream in).
I’m so busy. How and
when could I possibly schedule a Weekly Review?
Since the Weekly Review is very important to your organizational life, you’re going to want to make a positive habit out of it. Even if your life seems too crazy to accommodate a couple of hours a week, it helps to recognize “the value of sacrificing the seemingly urgent for the truly important” (Getting Things Done, Chapter 8).
For attorneys, who often deal
with mission-critical situations, you may need to find islands of time
beyond normal work hours. If you can swing Friday afternoon from
4-6PM or early Saturday morning, the extra time investment will pay
dividends in the rest of your weekly operations. At those periods
at the end of the week, fresh from the week’s battle, you allow yourself
to clear your mind, set up your next week, and focus on the weekend.
Thanks For Reading!
We hope our legal GTD week blog posts are beneficial to you. For a list of all five posts for the week, click here for your future reference. And thanks to our host bloggers, The Mac Lawyer, Grant Griffiths, Sam Glover, and Niki Black for allowing us to guest post on their sites this week!
Purchase “Getting Things Done” at Amazon.com.