There are many. This is mine.
I use Omnifocus to track my tasks so some terms may not apply to you. My weekly reminder to do my weekly review, links directly to this post and I keep it visible whilst I review all the items in my bucket.
Is it done?
I don't tick off everything as I do it and nor does anyone else. Have a quick check to see if you’ve completed the project since the last review, or if anyone else has.
Should it be be on hold?
Will you make any actions on this project before it’s next review date? If not, put it on hold. This enables you to better focus on tasks you actually can do - your available task perspectives won’t be filled with tasks you can’t do right now.
Do you still care / Is the outcome still needed?
It’s probably been a week since you last did a review, depending on the frequency of review you’ve set for this project - possibly much more. Have your priorities changed? Is this project important any more? No?
Kill it. There are enough genuinely important tasks for you to attend to without adding more. Lose the guilt. drop the task.
If you're reviewing single tasks - should it really be a project?
I have many stacks of single tasks, piles of repeating tasks, lists of articles to read etc. Often, tasks creep in that really should be projects. Remember, a project is anything that takes more than 1 clearly defined step to complete. Breaking tasks down into the smallest practical step is key to actually getting things done.
Is the project described as an outcome?
I find that longer, more descriptive project titles such as “Go on a geeky holiday with your friends in 2013” is a lot easier to use than “Holiday?”. Is your task written as an actual outcome?
“describe in a single sentence the intended successful outcome for the problem or situation” It can help to think of this as writing for someone else - the you of next week really is a different person from the you of today.
If the project is significant, have you leveraged positive affirmation techniques to help it succeed?
I’ve writing a much longer post about this, suffice for now to say that projects of note have two questions asked and answered in the notes field:
- Why do I want to achieve the outcome for this project?
- What does the project outcome look like?
Is there a clearly defined next action?
Your project will not move on until you have identified (at least) the next specific task which will move you closer to completion.
Is this project stuck?
Reviewed this project more than once without it moving forward? You’re stuck. You might need to change your next action, maybe the existing next action should be split into two, or the order of the project changed.
Are you reviewing this project frequently enough? Or too often?
Review as infrequently as you can (to reduce admin overheads) but as frequently as you need to (to ensure things don’t slip entirely or slip back into your head space). Omnifocus defaults to a week, which is a good start but probably isn’t suitable for half or more of your projects. For example, The holiday you’re planning to take in 12 months, from here it’s probably a 3 month review, closer it becomes monthly, within 4 weeks it should probably become weekly. Changing the review frequency of a project is entirely appropriate and should be done as your relationship with the project and the projects relationship with time changes. Appropriate review frequency is a real example of ‘Mind like water’.
What do you think? Any feedback? This is a ‘live’ document that my weekly review reminder links to directly so any improvements or refinements are added into the process constantly. I owe a debt to the writers of this post which is the article I used for reviews prior to writing this.