GTD® Step 4: Reviewing

We are continuing our series on The Concepts of GTD®, using our one page graphic which can be found here.

As a quick refresher, GTD® is a five step system for processing, organizing, reviewing and doing your tasks and projects. The five steps are: Collection, Processing, Organizing, Doing and Reviewing.

We have previously reviewed the first three steps of GTD®: Collection, Processing and Organizing. Now we will discuss the fourth step, Reviewing.


Reviewing and updating your system is critical to the proper functioning of GTD®. There are two critical questions to answer when setting up your Review system: What do I need to look at?; and When do I need to look at it?

Daily Review
You will need to review your Calendar, Tickler and Next Action lists daily. First, look at your calendar and your tickler file which will give you the best idea of what your day will look like and how much time you will have for items on your next action list. Then, review your Next Action lists, especially those items that are set in the context you are in at the time of your review.

Weekly Review
The Weekly Review is critical to the proper functioning of the system. It’s where you take yourself back to the beginning and make sure that you’ve gotten everything off of your desk, and out of your head. It helps to set a specific day and time when you do your Weekly Review To start your weekly review, compile all of the loose papers, notes, etc. that have accumulated over the week and put them in your inbox. Next, write down all of the things you need to get done and any new ideas that you might have that you are now holding in your head. Then process each one ensuring that they go into the proper folder or on the appropriate list.

Review your Calendar items of the last week and place any remaining actions that have not gotten done into the proper file or on the proper list. Then look at your Calendar for the coming week and and capture and process any actions that need to be taken for those Calendar items.

Review your Projects, Next Action, Waiting for and Someday/Maybe items and update them by crossing off completed actions and transferring actions that are appropriate to other lists and/or files.

Periodic Review
In order to ensure that you never get that far out of the system and that your system is working optimally for you, do a periodic review of all of your folders and lists and your methodology. Look for areas where your are consistently falling short (ex. weekly review or getting everything into your inbox) and tweak the system do that it works best to address those shortcomings.

In our next installment we will discuss the last step of GTD®: Doing.

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