Todd Henry

Project Management with the Getting Things Done Method: Reviews

Getting-Things-Done-FileWelcome Back Readers! Before you read this post, read the first of this 2-part series: “Project Management with the Getting Things Done Method: An Overview

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GTD Reviews

To realize the full potential of the Getting Things Done method, you must regularly review your work and personal project lists.

Regular reviews keep your mind focused because reviews allow you to stay on top of what you need/want to do without forgetting a single idea or action step.

Review schedules vary depending on the person. As I mentioned in “3 Project Management Tips That Will Make You a Better, More Prolific Writer,” I conduct the weekly, monthly, and quarterly reviews advocated by Todd Henry in [amazon_link id="1591846242" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]The Accidental Creative[/amazon_link], an idea which he borrowed from David Allen’s GTD system.

Henry’s review interval works well for me. Quarterly reviews provide me with a large, but not overwhelming, picture of what I need to get done over a 3-month period. Monthly and Weekly Reviews help me to establish smaller and more manageable action plans for how I will complete my quarterly projects.

Each of my reviews has 3 main components.


Female business hands working on table.Quarterly Reviews

I conduct a quarterly review every 3 months.

1. Project Review: I review of all work and personal projects that I have listed in my Omnifocus app. This step helps me figure out which projects I need to work on and complete over the next 3 months. Quarterly reviews also allow me to see whether I can move any of the projects or actions from my “Someday/Maybe” lists into my active project roster.

2. Calendar Review: I go through my calendar and list any appointments, trips, meetings, or special events that will take place during the upcoming quarter. Listing these events helps me keep them “front of mind,” which helps me plan around them if and when I need to.

3. List Goals: I list goals for each quarter. In most cases they seem like a “wish list,” but for whatever reason making this wish list actually causes some of my goals to happen.

At Todd Henry’s suggestion, I begin each goal item with “It would blow my mind if…”

To get you started here are 2 items from my goals list for the December 2013-February 2014 quarter: “It would blow my mind if I launched my consulting business and landed a client.” “It would blow my mind if I revised 1 chapter of my book.”


action plan checkboxMonthly Reviews

I refer to my quarterly review when I conduct my monthly review.

1. Project Review: I select projects from my quarterly review that I will either complete or make progress on over the course of the next month.

2. Calendar Review: I go through both my calendar and my quarterly review and list all of the appointments, trips, meetings, or special events I need to schedule around.

3. Progress Assessment: At the end of my monthly review, I ask myself whether I am happy with the work I am doing and the progress I am making. If I am not happy, I spend a few minutes free writing so I can better articulate why I am unhappy so I can try to fix it.


Weekly Reviews

I conduct my weekly reviews on Friday evening.

I have tried conducting my weekly reviews on Monday morning and Sunday night, but I disliked how Sundays cut into my “family time” and Monday morning reviews made me feel like I was starting my week behind.

Friday evening reviews help me start organized on Mondays and get me ready for my upcoming weekend.

I use my monthly reviews to help guide my weekly work plans.

1. Inbox Review: I use the OmniFocus inbox feature to capture and store all of the ideas that come to weigh on my mind each day. Before I conduct my weekly review, I go through my inbox and assign each idea a project, place it into my work or personal single-action list, or file it into my work or personal “Someday/Maybe” lists. Reviewing my inbox keeps my ideas organized and the action steps I need for each project up-to-date.

Calendar2. Project Review: I identify projects from my monthly review and list the action steps I will take to either make progress on or complete the project.

3. Calendar Review: I review my calendar once again so I know when I need to schedule my writing around work and personal events and appointments. I like to schedule my writing time in as many 2-4 hour chunks as possible and reviewing my calendar at the end of each week helps me do that.



Reviews are vital to how I manage my projects and get things done, which is why I schedule them in my calendar. I do not want to forget to conduct them.

This 2-post series has provided a broad overview of how I manage my time, writing, and research projects.

GTD may look like a long, complicated process, but after the initial time you take to get organized, you will find that it becomes second nature. You will also find that you are more productive.

If you would like to learn more about GTD, you should check out [amazon_link id="0142000280" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity[/amazon_link] by David Allen, [amazon_link id="1591844118" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Making Ideas Happen[/amazon_link] by Scott Belsky, and [amazon_link id="1591846242" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]The Accidental Creative[/amazon_link] by Todd Henry. Allen created the GTD system, but Belsky and Henry explain the system in a way that writers and other creatives will find more practical and accessible.


time-to-shareWhat Do You Think?

How do you organize your time, writing, and research projects?

Is there a part of my system that you would like me to explain in greater detail?


3 Project Management Tips That Will Make You a Better, More Prolific Writer

overwhelmedDo you have too many research and writing projects going on? Are you tired of trying to manage these projects with calendar and to-do apps that leave their promises of an easier, more organized life unfulfilled?

I used to feel the same way. I had too many projects and not enough time for the project I most wanted to work on most: my book proposal. Or so I thought.

My search for solutions led me to Todd Henry’s book [amazon_link id="1591846242" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice[/amazon_link]. The book promises to “help you establish enough structure in your life to get the most out of your creative process…to stay engaged and prolific over the long term.”

Convinced that this book would fall short on its promises, just like my calendar and to-do apps, I borrowed it from the library. However, Todd Henry proved me wrong.

The Accidental Creative lived up to Henry's billing. Using Henry’s practices, I have become an effective project manager and a better, more prolific writer.


AccidentalCreativeBookGraphicSynopsis: The Accidental Creative

In The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry outlines the creative process. He asserts that “by building purposeful practices into your life” creatives can “stay engaged and productive over the long term” and “increase [their] capacity to do brilliant work, day after day, year after year.”

The book has 2 parts: Dynamics (Part 1) and Creative Rhythm (Part 2).

Part 1 describes who creatives are, the kinds of work they do, and why many creatives burnout.

Part 2 lays out Henry’s 6-step plan for managing creativity, which will help a creative avoid burnout.

The heart of Henry’s plan is conscious recognition. Creatives must be conscious of all of the information they take in, the time they spend consuming information, meeting with other people, and creating.

Once creatives become conscious of the information, experiences, and time they consume, they can manipulate those factors into productive creative time.


3 Project Management Tips from The Accidental Creative That Will Make You a Better, More Prolific Writer

genius at work title written with chalk on blackboard

1. Notation: Write down all of your ideas, even if they are not immediately relevant to your current project.

Henry advises readers to keep an idea notebook and to regularly review it.


Henry's 4 Tips to Optimize Idea Notebook Organization and Review Time

1. Keep the first few pages of your notebook free for the “Idea Index.” 2. Number the pages of your notebook. 3. Each time you write down an idea, flip to the index and record a brief summary of your idea and note the page number where you wrote down the full idea. 4. Take a few moments each day to scan your “Idea Index” as old ideas may help you with your current project.


2. Checkpoints: Take time each week, month, and quarter to conduct a checkpoint.

Checkpoints are written action plans or schedules that you create on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.

Henry offers a specific checklist of items you should think about when you conduct each type of checkpoint in Chapter 9.


Checkpoint Basics:

  • Set aside time: Weekly Checkpoints: 20-60 minutes; Monthly Checkpoints: 60-90 minutes; Quarterly Checkpoints: 4-8 hours
  • Identify the projects you want to complete and the tasks, research, and meetings you need to accomplish them.
  • Recognize and take into account all non-work related projects and familial, friendly, and professional obligations when you create your project schedule.


3. Pruning: It is okay to "prune" or let go of activities and commitments that "inhibit your ability to effectively perform."

Pruning doesn't mean saying "No" to every project that comes your way, but it does mean letting go of time-consuming projects that do not add to your overall professional and creative goals.



Todd Henry's "Accidental Creative" practices work.

These 3 valuable techniques have helped me better organize my projects and my work.

Keeping and reviewing an idea notebook has relieved my mind of the burden of trying to remember the ideas I have for my various writing, research, and consulting projects. The notebook holds my ideas until I need them.

The practice of conducting weekly, monthly, and quarterly checkpoints has provided me with the roadmaps I need to complete my projects. Knowing exactly what projects I must complete each week ensures that I make time for them.

I have more focus because I have eliminated time-consuming projects that do not help me get to the “Freelance Historian” life I envision.

The best part: Following Henry’s advice has enabled me to be a prolific writer. As a result, I accomplished my goal: I finished my book proposal.


What Do You Think?

How do you manage your projects? What methods work, or don't work, for you?

Have you read The Accidental Creative? What practice do you find most helpful?