I’m trying to avoid OF 4 & looking at alternatives - I’ve basically created tag-based (#review:1stWeek etc.) lists. Unfortunately it’s a fiddly solution which is part of what I want to get away from by abandoning OF.
I use a kanban board on Trello, so review is basically integrated into the process: as I finish things in the leftmost column of the board, I check the lists to the right to see if anything can now be moved forward. Takes maybe 10 seconds total per day and keeps things cleaned up. About once a quarter I scan through the whole board to do some cleanup and make sure tasks are still up-to-date.
Occasionally if I want to get an idea of how a project is going I’ll filter out the board to only show items tagged with a certain project name, which gives me a quick overview, but this is a pretty infrequent use-case for me.
After using Omnifocus for about 7 years, I became discouraged by them moving to a subscription model and the fact that OF is way more complex than I need. I moved to Things3. Much prettier and simpler and no subscription, at least for now. It is very capable for my needs which are probably less demanding than the typical OF user.
I used OF for about three years and love the Review feature–it is the only feature I miss. Apart from the Review function, I found OF to be unnecessarily fiddly for managing projects and tasks.
I don’t have a sophisticated solution to suggest so my approach may not be helpful to you but I’ll share it nonetheless.
My approach is straight forward, I’m rigorous with myself about doing a daily quick review and a thorough weekly review. I review all of my projects each week. Because of the daily and weekly reviews, I know what projects I can “skip” during a given weekly review because having looked at them constantly I know they don’t need a review for several more weeks so I just “pass by” that list during the review. My weekly review takes about 1 hour.
I have created three areas in Reminders with projects listed under each as shown below.
Yes, I have it scheduled for 7:30am every Friday. I go through my lists and calendar. Again, because I do this weekly, I can safely “skip” reviewing some of my lists because I already know there is nothing that needs immediate review. Being consistent each week means my weekly review only takes about an hour. Bottom line, I’d love to have a Review feature built into my task manger but as long as I do my weekly review, it is a nice to have, not a must have.
Here is a screenshot showing my blocked time for deep work, which on Friday’s includes my weekly review and review of the strategic plan. The blue is the work calendar, which my EA sees, showing “No Meetings”; the purple is my personal calendar that only I can see showing the weekly review and SP review.
Similar to @Bmosbacker I do a weekly review where I review every project. I find the most important thing about the weekly review is to kill tasks and projects that are no longer being worked on. Either sent to Someday or just deleted altogether. I need to be ruthless and make sure the tasks are things I’m actually going to do in the next 3 months or so. It shouldn’t be an aspirational list of things I should do. If a task has been on the list for more than 3 months or so, it gets deleted.
I do keep a list of aspirational projects in Obsidian, just so I can feel better about myself.
I am a fan of Trello. There’s a Trello power-up called Card Aging which will show you which haven’t received attention in awhile. You can use that to get something like a dynamic review list so you don’t have to look at everything every week.
We moved some things to ClickUp at work. It’s fairly fun to use and you can automate and extend its functionality similar to AirTable. I’d recommend trying it if their marketing site made a good impression on you.
I’m an Omnifocus user, but I don’t use the review function. I have a separate printable checklist that I use every Friday afternoon for my review. (For planning / higher level stuff I like paper checklists - so I have printed checklists for a weekly plan, a weekly review, daily tasks, and a monthly review). Having the review printed helps me go through in a structured manner - heavily based on GTD weekly review with modifications for me.
The full list is below, but the unfortunate thing is a lot of the time is summarized in the step “Review projects list, dive deep into key projects” which is probably where the OF review feature would normally be used. I usually can decide just looking through the list which ones I should spend actual time reviewing that week (and this is often tied to how much time I have - I’ll review more if I have 2-3 hours than if I just have 1 hour). It also helps that my projects are split by areas of focus, some of which don’t need much in depth review to make sure things are on track. Then to make sure I don’t miss something I later look specifically at those that don’t have an action associated (custom perspective but I would assume possible with other software).
The list prints nicely to a single page, and ends with a trip to the vending machine as a reward.
Collect loose papers & materials
Process any notes on desk
Process new email (work, home) to OmniFocus
Process OmniFocus inbox
Process Drafts inbox
Process Reminders – weekend list,
Full mindsweep (checklist in blue folder)
Process mindsweep items in OmniFocus
Review waiting for list
Review action lists
Review past & future calendar data - capture ideas / actions
Review forecast view in OmniFocus
Review Timing report for week: [specific questions about my target time breakdown]
Update book, writing project tracking page at back of theme system
Get Projects Moving
Review projects list, dive deep into key projects
Review areas of focus list - any new projects or actions? any without a project? anything I’m missing?
Review yearly & semester work goals
Should any projects be incubated? moved to someday maybe? deleted? delegated?
Any project stuck? (check stalled perspective) Why is it stuck? What needs to happen? Does it need to happen? Should it be incubated/SM/deleted/delegated?
Review general someday maybe lists (personal, professional)
Review specific someday maybe lists (research ideas, home projects)
Should any projects be de-incubated to an active project?
Get creative - new ideas? new projects? new goals?
This is very intensive! Do you often spend 2-3 hours on this? What made you land on doing it on Friday? When you get to work on Monday, do you ever find you’ve forgotten your intentions over the weekend?
Timing depends a lot on the week. Typically ~ 1 hour, although when I have more time I’ll spend 2-3. Friday is good for me so I can go into the weekend without the worry about having missed something. Then Monday AM I’ll do a planning session for the week. Sometimes when I have something to remember on Monday (or over the weekend) I’ll either print out my weekly plan checklist or just write it on a post it, or in OF or somewhere so I do remember. Typically though, during the review I’m specifically NOT planning out next week, but reviewing the current week, so not as much to carry over to Monday.
Figured I would include my weekly planning checklist too. More formatting involved, so I attached it as a picture. After my planning session, I fold it in half and use the bottom for the rest of the week. Then I track (with the boxes on the right) when I spend a lot of time on each one.
Quite a comprehensive list! I could see this being very useful for folks, particularly those who don’t already have something like this built into their app of choice. I’m doing something similar in practice these days, but it’s not documented the way yours is.
Amazing Marvin has a weekly and monthly review. They’re probably good (everything else on the app is!) but I ignored them… sadly that’s a problem at the human interface not the app
I’ve now switched back to Todoist and Reminders (Amazing Marvin doesn’t have good iOS apps). Todoist has a template for a weekly review (GTD Weekly Review - Templates | Todoist), but ignore that too…
I’ve been mostly ‘firefighting’ at work since January and I’m finding it very hard to justify doing a 1hr review a week, even though everyone says how beneficial it is. Now that the fires are mostly out I really need to break this mindset. But this is part of a bigger problem of tackling my to-do list, to which I have no easy answer and enjoy seeing how everyone else tackles this!