How to Do a Weekly Reset

I've written about the importance of the Weekly Review in the past and any Getting Things Done fan knows it's a key (I would argue the key) to any well-functioning GTD system. One part of my Weekly Review has become so important to me and the way I work, though, that I've given it it's own name; the Weekly Reset.

The Weekly Reset is the part of my review where I focus on clearing out as much as possible from my informational backlog so I can go into the next week looking forward to new information and opportunities instead of dreading the idea of adding even more stuff on top of an already precarious pile. My full Weekly Review is the larger process of actually updating my task management software, assessing the previous week, and setting some intentions about the upcoming week in terms of what I want to accomplish (here's the template I've created). If you aren't doing a full Weekly Review yet I think instituting a bit of a Weekly Reset is a good first step in that direction. Here's a handful of things I like to do during mine:

Friday Afternoon

I'm experimenting with shifting my Weekly Review from Sunday afternoon to Friday afternoon. So far I really like the sense of closure to the week it gives me. As part of my Weekly Review each Friday afternoon I try to complete as many little tasks as possible. Throughout the week I'm constantly booting administrative to-do items to appear on Friday in my task management software which allows me to focus on more important things during the prime parts of my work week and gives me a handy list of easy tasks to crank through when my motivation is generally low and I'm looking forward to the weekend on Friday afternoon.

The other aspect of the Weekly Reset that happens on Friday is making sure that everything I might want to read is waiting for me in Instapaper. This means that all tweets I saw throughout the week sharing articles and everything in my RSS reader that I actually want to read is sitting and ready to go in Instapaper. The nice trick for this is to use IFTTT to automatically send the links of starred tweets and favorited items within RSS to Instapaper.

By the end of the day Friday I've done my Weekly Review, knocked out a ton of small tasks, and have an Instapaper queue busting at the seams with a bunch of things I'm excited to read.

Saturday or Sunday Afternoon

On Saturday and Sunday I try not to think about work at all and I rarely check email. Instead, I complete my favorite part of the Weekly Reset -- reading! I try to work my way completely through my Instapaper backlog over the course of an afternoon. I also receive an absurd amount of magazines thanks to some frequent flyer miles I cashed in so I try to work my way through that backlog every weekend as well. Finally, I also try to make sure I listen to all the podcasts that I didn't get to during the week (usually a handful of episodes). Most weekends I'm able to find a couple hours to kick back with a cup of coffee (if I'm getting to this first thing in the morning) or a beer (if I'm getting to this first thing in the morn... just kidding) and just read. If I finish all my queues and I still have some motivation I'll kick back with a book and read that as much as possible. I actually read books almost every day during the week and read almost no internet "things" until the weekend so I'm okay if my Saturday and Sunday are dedicated to clearing out internet-based reading instead of whatever book I'm working on.

In order to make this work I had to get better at identifying which things could get by with a power skim and which things I could read more slowly and completely. I have almost no qualms about power skimming most things I read on the internet (except for the occasional long form article that requires deeper focus). The same goes with podcasts. I had to get very real with myself in terms of how many podcasts I could feasibly listen to in a given week. I reduced it down to about four weekly podcasts and two shorter dailies. I don't like feeling "behind" in anything so I'm willing to listen to less programs if it means I won't have them sitting unlistened in my queue for a long time. It's just the reality of how my brain works and what I need to do to feel good about what's going on around me.

The end result of all of this? I get to go into Monday morning with a ton of ideas for articles thanks to the copious amount of reading accomplished over the weekend, an empty Instapaper queue, an empty magazine rack, an empty RSS reader, and most importantly, excitement for what new things might be waiting for me instead of dreading the addition of new responsibilities or opportunities. That ability to raise my gaze away from the nitty gritty and scan the horizon for new opportunities is profoundly liberating and all it takes is some conscious effort and a couple hours of work to get myself prepared to embrace the world instead of shying away from it. That's a pretty worthy time investment in my book.

Photo by Patrick Lauke