What I’ve gathered from Getting Things Done (GTD), is a set of commonsense habits that, when brought together, help a person learn how to build a trusted system.

One of GTD’s major recommendations is to review your system weekly. In time, our projects, tasks, and lists go stale. Looking through and updating them weekly makes the system trustworthy again.

While the sentiment is all well and good, a common error is to start relying on the weekly review to organize. For example, let’s say you are writing a report. When done for the day, you close it up. You let the reference materials just sit there. A website is still open. Tasks are out of order.

You think, “I’ll take care of that when I do my review.”

But at the time of review, you’re likely tired and looking forward to the weekend. The work of review is hard enough. Looking through all one’s projects can be draining.

Decisions sit there waiting, all harder to make if you’ve let things accumulate. To do this type of review well, you’d need to envision each project, picturing next actions.

In other words, the more messes we leave, the more tiring the weekly review will be.

The best time to make work ready for next time is at the end of a session, when materials are most fresh in mind.

So what is review good for?

Review seems to go well for recognizing those things we inevitably miss. The world is not fond of waiting its turn. As a result, things do get forgotten or lost.

When we catch these types of “misses” in a weekly review habit, things start to feel interesting. Review is no longer a chore. Instead, it might even feel engaging.

To mix metaphors, in order to maintain course, we are now making slight adjustments to the wheel rather than steering wildly. Not only are we less prone to run into an accident, we can even enjoy the scenery.