Having a checklist for a recurring project is a good way to free your mind from worrying about small but important details. Before 2020, the checklist that both of us used the most was our travel packing list. On the eve of James’ first post-pandemic trip (to Disneyland, of course), we talk about what needs to be updated on that trusted list.
In this episode Jean and James talk about how life is beginning to change as they and so many others become vaccinated. James celebrates his first hair cut in over a year. Jean continues to settle into her new place. Jean is looking forward to more casual gatherings with family and friends. James misses playing music with other musicians. And looking at his trusted system, James is finding many projects put on hold can now be made active again. Both wonder if they will return to their pre-pandemic patterns or if new habits developed during the past year have taken hold.
James found the “get out of jail free card,” and Jean is happy to use it.
Upon rereading the GTD book, James came across this definition of the weekly review: “It’s whatever you need to do to get your head empty again and get oriented for the next couple of weeks.” No matter which tool you use, from simple written notes to OmniFocus, getting yourself oriented for the next couple weeks is the goal. Considering that neither Jean or James did their official weekly review this week, it was nice to let us ourselves off the hook.
PS: It’s our third anniversary! We’ve been publishing an episode every Friday since April 29, 2018. 🎂🎂🎂
In this episode Jean and James discuss the announcments from the recent Apple ‘Spring Forward’ event. Will Jean get a new M1 iMac? Does James misplace his keys often enough to justify getting an AirTag? The conversation turns to product color a number of times leading James to a minor chromatic epiphany. Both Jean and James are tempted by the new iPad Pro but may stand pat with their existing models. James is looking forward to the new Apple TV remote. Also the secret fictional origins of The Weekly Review podcast.
Jean made a big decision this week. After 13 years, she’s moving—and that wasn’t a project or goal she had noted anywhere in OmniFocus. James offers good advice, both on how to look at big decisions in the context of a trusted system and how to process house projects that will never be done now.
And we affirm our podcast’s mission statement: we don’t claim to be productivity gurus, just two friends who help each other get things done.
This episode Jean and James talk about their most plentiful and precious digital assets—photos. Jean expresses frustration at not being able to find an Easter-themed photo of guinea pigs Grace and Ada from a past year. James describes how even a dark, blurry photo of time spent with friends is a great way to bring the moment back into memory.
Jean sets out to prune her photo library of unwanted photos that don’t make the cut—with unintentional guinea pig butt photos being a surprisingly common category. James continues to be a digital pack rat with even the bad photos as he continues to purchase more drive and clould storage over time.
A photo by James looking up at the Incredibles Arch on Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure.
This was taken on the last day of James’ last visit to Disneyland before the pandemic.
A Christmas photo of guinea pigs Grace and Ada by Jean.
The sort of photo, with a guinea pig butt to the camera, that Jean plans on deleting.
We started this episode out without a specific topic, but that didn’t stop us from reviewing what things we got done this week and how we did it. We also took the opportunity to talk about Dance Party! and give James kudos for completing three months of his fun automated exercise program.
This episode, Jean and James talk about their strategies for managing passwords. Both have seperately arrived at similar but not identical approaches. Jean admits that she sometimes saves pieces of information in 1Password and forgets it is there when she needs it. James realizes that he needs to take care of the various warnings in his password managers. Both Jean and James conclude that a little bit of time spent tending to your passwords can go a long way and both intend to add a recurring periodic task in their trusted systems to do so. Finally, the duo bats .500 this week in accomplishing weekly reviews and weekly to-dos, but who did and who didn’t? (Hint: J did but J didn’t.)
This week we turn our attention to one of those essential but often cluttered repositories: our Contacts database. Jean embarks on a quest to clean up her Contacts, organize people into groups, update info and delete some names too. It feels a bit like the Inbox Zero projects we did when we launched the podcast, but the goal is not to reduce it zero, of course!
With spring fast approaching, Jean and James discuss a variety of topics in the waning weeks of winter. James procrastinates tackling some tasks as he eagerly awaits the arrival of a whiteboard. Jean reveals the proper way to dispose of 2020 wall calendars. James extolls the virtues of unplanned activities while Jean suggests a strategy to get Dexter the cat drinking from his water fountain again. Other topics include mangled math and more examples why its better to keep things in your trusted system instead of your head. It’s a wintery mix.
Life may be just a bowl of cherries…but it’s also filled with the open loops that sap mental and creative energy.
The good news is that we both completed a weekly review this week. The better news is that we have identified some aspects of our trusted systems that could be refined, making it more likely that we will continue to make those reviews weekly in the future.
For the 150th episode, Jean and James talk about enhancing your productivity by a seemingly unproductive approach—doing nothing. Or at least doing something else. Topics include sleep, background processing, and James’ dad’s oft-repeated three day rule. The conversation then turns to ways of reacting to life’s little mishaps.
Inspired by the winter weather emergencies in Oregon and Texas, James and Jean revisited the topic of preparedness. After last summer’s wildfire emergencies, Jean realized it made sense to download videos in advance in case of internet failure, rather than using power bank reserves to run the internet for streaming video. We also talk about the ideas that Ben Brooks outlined in a recent article about “go bags.”
As we approach the anniversary of when many locations began shutting things down due to the pandemic, Jean and James reflect on various things that were commonplace in their lives but that they now haven’t experienced or done in over a year. Other topics include competing Groundhog Day groundhogs, the atrophy of packing skills, and whether James misses his sister or Disneyland more.
It’s the last episode in our consideration of the planning horizons above where we mostly concentrate, Ground Level (Next Actions) and Horizon 1 (Projects). This week, James and Jean talk about Horizon 5: Life, or alternatively, Purpose and Principles.
Somehow the conversation leads us to Las Vegas. Whether it’s craps or slot machines, there’s always a metaphor for life to be found in Las Vegas, as well as some excellent restaurants.
Continuing on the path of ever-widening horizons, Jean and James move on from one- to two-year goals to consider their visions for the next three to five years. Jean notes that although the word ‘vision’ might imply a grand world-changing scheme, in a personal context it could mean something life-changing or life-enhancing instead. Then the conversation takes a turn to barnacles and DNS configuration. It’s been that kind of a week.
We continue our review of GTD’s Six-Level Model For Reviewing Your Own Work, and this week we are looking at “Horizon 3.” We both discovered that it’s been a long time since we looked at one- to two-year goals, but given the major life upheavals we’ve experienced the last few years, it isn’t surprising that long-range plans have been neglected.
Following last episode about the Six Horizons of Focus, Jean and James begin their ascent through the horizons by talking about Horizon 2: Areas of Focus and Responsibility. As Jean and James share some of thier own items from this horizon, conversation includes whether areas of focus are different than responsibilities, and some thoughts on how to represent this horizon in OmniFocus or the productivity tool of your choice.
How do you decide what to do next? In Getting Things Done, David Allen talks about several strategies, including the Six Horizons of Focus. The higher up you go in the list of horizons, the more you can see of the big picture. Yet things actually get done on the ground level (next actions and calendar) and Horizon 1 (projects), which is where this podcast and its hosts are focused.
It’s a good practice to step back from the nitty gritty work, and consider how it fits into bigger goals and responsibilities. We discuss our plan for kicking off 2021 with a closer look at each horizon.
(If that sounds very serious, don’t worry. We also talk quite a bit about pierogies.)
In this episode, Jean and James talk about the recently released Pixar movie Soul. The conversation delves into some of the concepts presented in the movie such as having a passion turn into an obsession. Jean and James connect that to how too strong a focus on productivity has to potential of having you lead a less fulfilling life. Also, Jean and James discuss a whimsical new invention for 2021.
Finally, Jean and James wish all of our listeners a Happy New Year!
In this episode, Jean and James dig deeper into building habits. James makes the case that Habit Tracker apps should really be called Habit Trainers. Jean resolves to pick more concrete tasks for the Weekly To Do. The conversation turns to how seasonal changes, like shorter days, can affect daily habits. After reading a few chapters of Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood, James starts thinking about the difference between things done routinely, and those that are truly habits—done without conscious thought.
We met some goals this week, just not the goals we said we would meet on our last episode. We talk about the experience of sharing fitness updates via the Apple Watch and our 7-day challenge results and commiserate about the vagaries of the Stand goal.
In this episode Jean and James both find themselves accomplishing things even as they neglect reviewing their trusted systems this week. Jean finishes a month of daily microblogging and follows it up with a month of updating Micro.blog documentation. James creates and launches a website for Swift developers. Jean talks about using the Do app for daily reminders, while James lets his neighbors’ garbage cans serve as his weekly reminder to put his trash out.
During this holiday week in the U.S., James and Jean take time to reflect on things they are thankful for in their workflows, both hardware and software, as well as new habits like Dance Party.
For his “Weekly To-Do,” James tried to find the shutoff valve for his water main, but it eluded him. Maybe one of our listeners will have a suggestion… or James will eventually call the plumber anyway. Jean’s Weekly To-Do was watching the Neflix series The Queen’s Gambit, and she managed to get it done. 😏