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
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
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.