Join David Allen for an in-depth discussion in this video Reflecting on your system, part of Getting Things Done.
Well, now that we've captured what's got your attention, clarified what they mean, and actually organized it, you can't just leave it there. A lot of people maybe make lists, but then they don't look at them, and don't engage with them, and they're still using their head again. So, the strange thing about this, is you actually have to engage with your mind, to be able to get things off your mind. What do I mean by that? Step four, reflect. Review. Step back and take a look. You know, fairly simple.
I'm sure you've probably looked at your calendar, some time in the last 48 hours. Well that's what you were doing, was, I need to orient myself, so give me the map, which would be your calendar for, this afternoon or tomorrow, whatever, step back, take a look at the larger picture. Oh, that reminds me. Gives you a sense of it. I certainly do, usually the night before, I'm glancing at my. What I call my hard landscape on my calendar. So, I'm reviewing and reflecting at that level. Now, review and reflect happens on multiple levels, all the levels that we have our commitments. As I said, reviewing your calendar is the most common that people would do, to stay oriented, and make sure you're not missing something that you don't want to miss.
If you've been creating some next actions list, then those would be wa, something you'd need to step back and see, when you actually have discretionary time. Many times I don't need to look at my next actions list, because my calendar is just socked in all day long. I've already looked at them to make sure nothing would die. But that was the review that I needed to do, was to make sure I can, okay then, I'm not going to do any of that tomorrow. You know, my day is full. So, all of those become. The ways to use the system to make sure that you can stay present with what you're doing, and not have that anxiety that something, you may have missed something, or something's, sort of nibbling away at you.
The most commonly needed review, we've seen in reflection, is what we refer to as the weekly review. I've mentioned in, in several times already. This project list. How powerful and how creative and important that is, to keep you oriented on a longer horizon. Like week to week, as opposed to just hour to hour. So I need to step back and look at those 30, 40 or 50 of those projects, on a regular basis, as well as look. Forward and backwards on my calendar. So that's part of this regular kind of reviewing, where I've got it all out of my head. I've clarified what it is, but now, in order to go to step five, which will be where I start to make decisions about what I'm doing.
In order to be able to trust that, I need to build, in some consistent review and reflection time, so, if you've been able to fill out your organization system, with enough things, and you've gotten that sort of complete, then when you step back and take a look. Then it becomes a lot easier, and that review and reflection time becomes very creative. You'll actually have ideas you wouldn't get, just day to day out there dealing with emails, and phone calls, and interruptions, and people coming in and out. So, being able to hold the world back, so, building and good review and reflection time, a lot of the executives that I work with, that's their biggest hunger, and there biggest need, is reflection time.
I need to be able to sit back and think. It won't happen by itself, and so, building those kinds of islands of time in, are really critical, and also having, a getting things done system set up, so that you have the orienting maps. If you're set up, step, stepping back to review and reflect, but you don't actually have the things to reflect on, and you're just trying to it all from your head, that's not nearly as effective. As having an externalized system, and then stepping back for the review, will automatically make you more creative and more strategic. So building that in. Do you have a one to two hour window, at the end of every week? Well, your action for this would be, ask yourself that, and would it be valuable or useful for you to be able to somehow structure that? Many people structure that.
Let's say, early Friday afternoon, if they have a typical Monday through Friday kind of work week. They'll step back and say, okay, let me block in a couple of hours, close the door, if you have a door to close, and hold the world back. And that's where I'm going to reflect on, you know, how things are going, catch any new projects that have shown up that haven't made it to my list. Clean up my system, and, basically catch up. You know when most people feel best about their job, from my experience? Is a week before you go on a big holiday or vacation. Why? Well, think what you're doing. A week before you're leaving, you're probably going through all your stuff, reflecting and reviewing, and then renegotiating all your agreements with yourself and everybody else.
So that when you're on your vacation, none of that's bothering or bugging you. I just suggest you build that in weekly instead of yearly. But, that's the idea, I need to clean house, bring up the rear guard, if you will. So, reflect, very important, to make sure that this whole system works.
NEW for 2015: In an exclusive bonus chapter, David Allen answers some of the most frequently asked questions he receives about Getting Things Done, including why GTD is different and how it can scale for larger teams and organizations.