Weekly Review


[FONT=&quot]I have been a GTD practitioner for over a decade and have been a reader on this forum for a while and up until now I haven't felt the need to ask for help. I don't believe there is an easy solution to my question, but I thought I would enlist the readers for their thoughts.[/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]How do you determine your weekly "capacity?" By that I mean how much you can put on your plate until you have to say no or renegotiate your commitments? All of my next actions are captured accordingly in my system and my commitments are in my calendar.[/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]Every week I write out all my commitments and all of the things I need to get done that week, I do this because I like to see at a glance what I have going on and to make sure I keep focused. However, when look at the my weekly list I am left with not knowing if I have overcommitted myself or not.[/FONT]
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[FONT=&quot]I am not one to assign time blocks to each task or commitment. I have tried that in the past and I find it sets a false sense as I might miscalculate and it ends up adding a level of complexity that I find burdensome. Has anyone found a way of assessing this other than just a gut sense? Thanks in advance for your insight. [/FONT]


I am afraid I have no answer to the question as such (i.e. how to best assess the amount of work), but what I do is this - I do not even try to assess it with any degree of exactness at all. I am quite happy to just have a feeling of "lots", "little" or "normal" and from there on to just work off my complete lists (menus) of actions. I usually pick the most important or interesting ones to do, or the ones that best fit the contexts that I find myself in. I also use a color marker to help me spot the critical, normal and non-critical actions.


I use a system similar to Folke.

During my weekly review I flag the most critical next actions that should be done before the next weekly review. Then I use a view that show me only these items when I have free time to get work done. During the week, if necessary, I don't hesitate to add or remove some items from this list to reflect change of priority.
Non-flagged items have less chance to get done during the week but I consciously made that decision during the weekly review. It is during this review that I can feel if I am getting overloaded after having reviewed all project in detail including their degree of importance / urgency.

It is hard to determine the amount of work that you can get done in a week because there is so many factor that will most likely change your plans. In my case it's more of a guts feeling ;)


Bob Hendriksen
This is a good question, and I'm certain, a challenge for most of us. I have a friend who tries to calculate how much time each task and project will take, and plans it all out during his review (in 15 min. increments). That's too complex for me, so my approach is that, during my Weekly Review, I do my calendar review (2-3 weeks out) BEFORE looking through my lists of commitments. Then I set / adjust dates for my tasks and projects. This way, I have already seen how much capacity I have available (free time on my calendar), before committing myself to my work. More time available, the more I will put on my plate.
It actually works pretty dang well.
Another thing that correlates to this, is scrutinizing meetings, so as to attempt to open more capacity. Our team has rules around meetings: No meetings can be scheduled without clear "purpose" and "desired outcome". We also, hardly ever have meetings more than 30 min. These constraints force people to be more careful scheduling meetings, and be more prepared and concise during. This all adds much needed capacity.
Hope this helps a little.


You might look into kanban if you're not familiar already. WIP (work in progress) limits come to mind specifically, because they help you plan to do as much work as possible without exceeding your capacity. I'm no expert, but maybe you would find this interesting at a minimum.

Sergio Tango

I would suggest that you use the method used in Agile project management to calculate the weekly velocity. Here's how it works:

1) You start by giving each task that you have to do a relative effort estimation with one of the following numbers: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233... This is the Fibonacci sequence but it is not that important. What is important here is that these numbers are different enough.
For example,
Buy milk on my way back home could be an effort level 5.
Go to the garage for a revision of the car could be a 13.
Prepare a presentation for the next board meeting could be a 89.
The important part here is to be consistent and to remember that these numbers are relative effort estimation. They are not hours.

2) At the end of the week, you will review all the tasks you completed and sum the effort you achieved. This is your weekly velocity. If you are consistent in your attribution of effort numbers, you will see that your velocity is quite constant week after week with small variations.

3) After a month or so, you will be confident enough in your weekly velocity to start making predictions. Say you achieved weekly velocities of 198, 209, 188, and 205 for the last four weeks, you will know that your average velocity is 200. Again, this number doesn't mean anything to anyone else, it is your own velocity based on your own consistent evaluation of the effort level of your own tasks.

Now, say that the total amount of effort estimation of your entire task list is 400, you will know that you cannot achieve it this week and you have overcommitted yourself. But in two weeks you will be able to make it.

Once you get at ease with this simple yet powerful method, you will be surprised how consistent your velocity is.

In Agile project management, we apply this method to whole teams and get very accurate results.

Hope this helps!