Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Weekly Review

LifeTopix and My.Agenda are personal organization apps for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Both apps are especially useful for those who utilize David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD) method. The GTD method is an excellent method for organizing your life and getting things done for both life and business.

Getting Things Done

We’re constantly incorporating features that are useful for GTD, and we enjoy sharing our best practices for using these features. In this post, I’ll show you how you can use LifeTopix’s features for the Weekly Review phase of GTD. Keep in mind that our starter App, My.Agenda, can include many of the features discussed by purchasing the Get Things Done Pack as an in-app purchase.

What is GTD?

If you’re not familiar with GTD, it’s “the groundbreaking work-life management system by David Allen that provides concrete solutions for transforming overwhelm and uncertainty into an integrated system of stress-free productivity,” according to David Allen’s website. Allen lays out five key phases of the GTD process, which include 1) Capture/Collect, 2) Process, 3) Organize, 4) Review, and 5) Do. This post focuses on the Review phase of this workflow. In earlier blog posts, I’ve described the first four phases. At the end of this post, you’ll find links to those earlier posts.

What is the Review Phase in GTD?

In many productivity systems including GTD, experts recommend that you set aside time every week for approximately an hour to reflect on the items that you’ve completed, determine what needs to be completed the following week, and to contact people who you need to connect with. Allen recommends that you select a consistent place and time so you develop a habit for your Weekly Review. Schedule your Weekly Reviews on your LifeTopix calendar to ensure your process remains consistent.

The following table provides an overview of the items that you should include in your Weekly Review and how LifeTopix provides a feature or view to make the Weekly Review painless.

Weekly Review Checklist LifeTopix Feature or View
Calendar (Time Sensitive Items) -> Calendar / Agenda View
Email and Someday/Maybe Items -> Quick Inbox
Projects -> Tasks + Projects Topic
Contacts -> People + Services Topic (or) Context Tags
Checklists and To-do Lists -> Notes + Files Topic or Agenda view
“Waiting for” and Catch All -> Context Tags and Recently Updated
Loose Papers -> Box, Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive Integration

How Do You Review These Items in LifeTopix?

LifeTopix and My.Agenda are both very flexible apps so there are several ways that you can approach your Weekly Review. The following sections describe different approaches for viewing the items you wish to review.

Calendar / Agenda (Time Sensitive Items)

Items you’ve placed on your calendar are important for your Weekly Review because they’re time sensitive. You’ve given them a date for a reason, whether it’s a hard deadline, meeting, or other event.

When performing your Weekly Review, review the items that you’ve scheduled and create any new items that might be a result of your scheduled items. For example, you might have a meeting with a client coming up, but you haven’t reviewed your client’s requirements. Put this prep time on your calendar or use your LifeTopix Quick Inbox to collect this information.

LifeTopix Calendar

The LifeTopix Calendar is an essential tool for your Weekly Review. Looking ahead 30 days will give you a good “big picture” view of your scheduled items. Make sure that your daily tasks are aligned to your strategic initiatives.

LifeTopix’s Month view is very handy for reviewing time-sensitive items. Review the next two to three weeks to get a sense of what is immediately ahead of you. The image below shows an example of the calendar with the Month view selected. The calendar shows a clear marker on each day that you’ve scheduled an item. You can filter the calendar to view the types of items that are important to you. For example, if you want to view tasks, but not media items — this is certainly possible.

LifeTopix Calendar

LifeTopix Agenda View

You’ll find your Agenda view to be priceless during your Weekly Review. The Agenda view provides you with an easy-to-read, high-level view of the items that you’ve scheduled for the current day and the next seven days. It also includes your to-do lists, checklists, overdue items, and undated items. Just like the calendar, it includes filters so you can decide which types of items you wish to view on your agenda. The image below shows an example of the Agenda view.

LifeTopix Agenda View

Review your to-dos, overdue items, and upcoming items on your calendar. The Undated items section is especially useful because they may not be on your radar yet. This is a good time to decide the fate of your upcoming undated items, tasks, projects, events, and other items.

Email and Someday/Maybe Items (Quick Inbox)

Utilize the LifeTopix Quick Inbox for items without a clear due date, with a due date in the future (ticklers), that you’ve collected from your email messages, or that you wish to do someday (such as learn to speak another language). These items should be reviewed during your Weekly Review. Quickly review items in your someday/maybe lists to determine if you want to convert them to projects or other items. Remove any items that are no longer of interest to you.

The image below shows an example of items waiting to enter the Processing Phase in the LifeTopix Quick Inbox.

Quick Inbox

In LifeTopix, it’s easy to convert these items to actionable items such as projects, tasks or events, as shown in the following image.

Quick Inbox Convert

Projects (Tasks + Projects Topic)

In GTD or other productivity systems, a project is an objective that requires one or more actions. The Weekly Review is a good time to determine what you need to accomplish to move your projects forward and the due dates for the tasks or other items associated with the project.

In LifeTopix, you can create tasks (as task lists) or as a part of a project in the LifeTopix Tasks + Projects topic. These tasks can remain undated if you wish, and you should review them regularly. In LifeTopix, you can create general projects, education projects, health and activity projects, and other types of projects. You can review them all in one place — the Tasks + Projects topic, which is shown below.

LifeTopix Projects

Once you tap on any project, you can view and associate additional items, such as a task list, to-do lists, checklists, appointments, files, notes, expenses, services, shopping items, etc. The project gives you a complete picture of each project and organizes all associated items.

Contacts (People + Services Topic)

During your Weekly Review, you should decide if you need to contact friends, family, or colleagues regarding projects, tasks or other items. Your Weekly Review is a good time to manage your follow-ups. In LifeTopix, when you create tasks or other items, you can assign a contact as an “owner” as shown in the image below:

LifeTopix contacts-owners

During your Weekly Review, in the LifeTopix People + Services topic, you can view all your recent activity in the “Recent Items” section and easily identify any owners that you’ve assigned to items, as shown in the image below:

LifeTopix contacts-recent

Tapping View/Edit in the screen above enables you to easily view the assignments for this person, as shown in the image below:

LifeTopix contacts-associations

You can also easily contact your selected person via phone, SMS, Twitter, and Facebook through the Person view, which makes follow-ups a breeze.

Checklists and To-do Lists (Notes + Files Topic or Agenda View)

During your Weekly Review, it’s a good idea to review your to-do lists and checklists. I usually reserve to-do lists for lists of items that can be completed fairly quickly and checklists for things such as packing lists. You can view checklists and to-do lists directly from the Agenda view, shown earlier in this post, or you can manage these lists directly from the Notes + Files topic, as shown in the following image.

LifeTopix notesandfiles

Tapping on the tile that shows your to-do list or checklist allows you to view it and check off completed items.

Context Tags

One of the most powerful features of LifeTopix is the implementation of tags. In LifeTopix, Context tags are multi-purpose tags used for the purpose of identification of items. With tags, you can label items for identification or to give GTD Context. When items are tagged with matching Contexts, you can define your own views with your defined groupings.

In the GTD method, Contexts are typically based on a physical location, resource, or the equipment that’s necessary to complete a task. Examples of Contexts are @office, @home, @grocery store, @computer, @train, @vacation, or @phone. Also, in GTD, items are allowed more than one Context. For example, you could assign a Context of @office and @phone for phone calls that are completed at the office.

One way that you can identify items that you wish to include in your weekly review is to tag items with a tag defined as @Review. In LifeTopix, you can use multiple tags on items; therefore, you can implement GTD Contexts, and you can use tags to flag items for review. The image below shows an example of how this appears in LifeTopix:

contexttags

LifeTopix enables you to tag several types of items including:

  • Topic Items: Asset, Event, Gift, Note, Person, Project, Service, Service Provider, Shopping Items, Shopping List, Subject, Trip, Visit
  • Data Items: Appointment, Audio, Bookmark, Checklist, Drawing, Expense, File, Photo, Reminder, Task, Video
  • Log Items: Activity, Health Stat, Medication, Nutrition, Wellness

Tagging Items

One strategy you can utilize is to be cognizant of projects, tasks, and other items you want to include in your Weekly Review and tag them when appropriate. For example, if there’s a document that you plan to review by the end of the week, tag it with @Review.

In GTD, Waiting For is the list of items that you cannot complete because you’re blocked in some way. For example, your TPS report may be due; however, you’re waiting for the new cover sheet. Consequently, you would tag it with @Waiting For. This way, you will make sure to follow up on these items before they become overdue. You can tag items with context tags, such as @Assistant, @Boss, or @Spouse for items that you’ve delegated or are waiting for an answer before you can proceed.

In LifeTopix, you can apply your tags to any of the items listed above by simply tapping Edit in the appropriate screen for the item, such as a task. The image below shows one method for tagging an item. In this example, the item is a task.

set tag

When you perform your Weekly Review, you’ll save time because you can view all your items that you’ve tagged with @Review or other tags in one place, as shown below.

GTD Weekly Review

This view gives you full access to your items with editing capabilities and allows you to view the items by Type, Updated, or Name. You can modify due dates, priority, effort; remove items that are no longer required; and mark items complete — there are several options based on the type of item that you’re modifying.

Keep mind, if you don’t believe you have the discipline to tag your items with @Review throughout the week, LifeTopix includes many other options for organizing your Weekly Review — don’t fret!

Loose Papers – Online File Integration

The Weekly Review is a good time to pull out any of your loose papers that you’ve gathered during the week. LifeTopix supports access to files and notes in Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Evernote, and Toodledo and also supports media files such as photos and video. We recommend that you digitize your files, store the files in the Cloud, and access those files via your LifeTopix items.

More Information

GTD is a great system for managing your busy home and work life. If you’d like to know more about best practices using LifeTopix for GTD, refer to the following posts:

Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Prioritizing Tasks in LifeTopix
Best Practices for Getting Things Done with LifeTopix Categories and Contexts
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Capture and Collect
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Processing
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Master Organizing
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Doing Phase

Your Turn

We enjoy hearing from you. Please share your best practices for using LifeTopix.

GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. LightArrow Apps are not affiliated with or endorsed by the David Allen Company.

8 replies
  1. Janus Guttmann-Fich says:

    Hi LightArrow people,

    Thank you for all your hard work and an outstanding product in LifeTopix!

    The only thing I miss is the ability to mark a project completed and then have it automatically be hidden from view.

    I believe it is a very important function when using any TM system, especially GTD. I find it very frustrating to have to chose between on one hand, keeping completed projects and having them clutter up my overview of my projects list, and on the other hand deleting completed projects but then losing the possibility to review past learning experiences.

    Am I the only one with this challenge?

    All the best,
    Janus

    Reply
    • Team LightArrow says:

      Hi Janus,

      Thank you for reaching out to us and for the very kind words.

      You can currently achieve this by creating a project status and naming it “Archived” for example. Make sure to set the “Hide” field of this status to Yes. Now when you assign this status to your projects the projects will be hidden from the project lists.

      You can create a project status from the “Tasks+Projects” topic by tapping on the “Project Statuses” tile.

      Please let us know if you have any further questions. We are always happy to help.

      Best Regards,
      Team LightArrow
      Austin, Texas

      Reply
  2. Dan says:

    I purchased the everything package but I’m disappointed about some things. I can’t figure out how to reverse the priority sort it shows low at the top and high on the bottom. Also the only thing I see you can set the default for tasks on is calendar and date, not even start date. I want to change default priority etc. Thanks

    Reply
    • Team LightArrow says:

      Hi Dan,

      Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us.

      We can set up a phone call with you tomorrow to walk you through the product. If you would prefer a phone call please email us at
      “support@lightarrow.com” with a time that works best for you and a phone number we can reach you at.

      Best Regards,
      Ray
      Team LightArrow
      Austin, Texas

      Reply
  3. Dan says:

    How does toodledo integrate with your app? Can you import and export or sync?

    I’m not sure if you know the Manage Your Now system but one of the things that s frustrating about other apps (not a fan of toodledo’s) is you can’t sort by more than one category. MYN requires tasks to be sorted first by priority then by start date but with newest start dates first. Is this something doable with you app? Thanks

    Reply
    • Team LightArrow says:

      Hi Dan,

      Thank you for reaching out to us.

      We support Toodledo integration with Tasks and Notes.
      Here is a summary of our Toodledo integration:
      1. Browse your Toodledo Tasks/Notes from within our App
      2. Selectively choose a subset of tasks/notes or all tasks/notes under a Toodledo folder and sync them to LifeTopix tasks/notes.
      3. Once they are sync’ed, that sync’ed task behaves just like a local task – You can associate it with any other item, add LifeTopix-specific properties like Context Tags, specify location, add Reminders, etc. Whenever you save that sync’ed task, we also sync it with the Toodledo task and use the timestamp to overwrite the (toodledo or local) task with the older timestamp.

      Here is a help page that details this integration: http://lightarrow.com/toodledo-integration-information

      We support CSV export and import for Tasks, Checklists, Metric Log items, Shopping Items and Contacts. Please see this help page for more details (you may need to scroll to the import/export sections): http://lightarrow.com/lifetopix/online-help/common-features

      In our Tasks (and other items’) list views, we currently support Task grouping by Category, Context Tag, Due Date, Priority, Timestamp, Status, Task Owner, etc. We also support filtering of tasks by open/closed/all, etc.

      We are currently looking in to ways to improve the user experience in our lists views, in general.

      We welcome and appreciate your feedback.

      Best Regards,

      Team LightArrow
      Austin TX

      Reply
      • Dan says:

        Thanks. The only part I’m still not clear about is with sorting can you simultanenous sort by priority then start date. For example with Excel you can sort Rows by Column A, then by Column B, etc. Thanks

        Reply
        • Team LightArrow says:

          Hi Dan,

          Thank you for reaching out to us.

          We currently do not support simultaneous sorting by priority and then start date.

          However, we support grouping of Tasks (and other items) in our task (and other item) collapsible list views using various criteria (Cat­e­gory, Con­text Tag, Due Date, Pri­or­ity, Time­stamp, Sta­tus, Task Owner, etc.) and the ability to filter the tasks (open/closed/all, etc.). The list views can be collapsed or expanded based on the grouping.
          Within the grouped & filtered tasks, we sort them in alphabetical order.

          We are cur­rently look­ing in to ways to improve the user expe­ri­ence in our lists views, in general. This includes adding a way to support multiple levels of sorting wherever necessary.

          Should you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us again.

          Best Regards,
          Team LightArrow
          Austin TX

          Reply

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