Secret to Sanity: Allison’s Weekly Review

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pencils-sqOver the past couple weeks, I have written about how Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done has changed my views on habit-forming and reinforced my love of, and utilization of, systems. Today, I want to share how the course taught me a brand-new practice within my household management routine: The weekly review.

Frankly, I am not sure how I missed this key element of household management. For the first 14 years of our marriage, I handled things immediately. Every piece of mail that came in, every email that required a response, every paper that had to be dealt with – all of these were addressed on the spot in order to ward off the accumulation of papers on the counter, an overlooked deadline, or an overflowing inbox.

This may sound wonderful, but I always felt as though there was a better way to manage the amount of information processing that came along with managing a household of six while homeschooling four children, not to mention a family lifestyle that includes a fair amount of travel.

Enter the magic bullet of the weekly review.

It actually seems a bit counter-intuitive at first to let the inboxes pile up. However, I am now handling things more efficiently, precisely because I am letting them accumulate.

A weekly review can help you stay sane by giving a broad overview of life without focusing all mental and emotional energies on long discussions.

So, throughout the week:

  • Every piece of mail that needs addressing goes into one basket. (90+ percent of our mail is thrown/shredded on the spot, so very little mail makes it into the basket.)
  • Every email that is of a household-management nature that requires follow-up steps (normally, online bills or accounts, homeschool things to be researched) remains in my inbox until Saturday morning. These number only 2 to 4 a week, so it doesn’t stress me out to see them sitting there for a few days.
  • Every paper that has the possibility of becoming a keepsake goes into the same basket as mentioned above. By Saturday morning, I have a fairly clear idea ff whether I’ll keep it (a card, a special letter from the kids, etc.) and so it goes immediately into the keepsake bucket or into the trash.

Saturday morning, I pull out the accumulation of papers from the week and quickly process them.

Because I am in “process mode,” this all goes fairly quickly, and I don’t need a lot of brain power to do it. If there is a bill, a church newsletter, or something else that doesn’t need processing until the following week, it simply goes back into the basket.

Then I turn to the email, processing everything remaining in my inbox, bringing it down to zero.

Next, I turn to the family calendar and see what is ahead for the following week, noting any special outings, hospitality events at our house, and so forth.

After only 30 minutes, I walk away from my desk with an amazing sensation that our decks have been cleared and we are ready to go for the following week.

More Brain Space

Having done this for several months now, I realize how much brain space has been freed up. Rather than dipping in and out of lots of little decisions every single day, I mentally set them aside, knowing they will be appropriately dealt with Saturday morning. I love this! It feeds my craving for efficiency and also tremendously reduces decision fatigue throughout the week.

More recently, I have created a second sort of Weekly Review. Every Friday, my husband and I go out to lunch for a “business meeting.” It sounds really formal, but it’s not. We will spend about 45 minutes at a nearby quick-service restaurant (usually Panera) reviewing the upcoming week’s schedules, meal plans, and travel schedules. Because my husband travels a lot for his job, and because he is the Chief Cook for our home, these are key elements that need to be hashed out ahead of time so that we know who will be where, when, and how food will be getting into our house and into our bodies.

We also take some time to discuss what’s going on with, the podcasts, our plans/goals for buying property next year, and any other big-picture-type things. These are not long, drawn-out discussions; there is no time for that, nor is there always emotional energy available for it. Rather, we are just touching on the current key points in our lives to ensure things are not falling through the cracks. This has really freed up a lot of burden from my shoulders and has helped both of us feel invested together and on the same team.

The weekly review has been such a blessing on both a macro and a micro level, and I have no desire to ever go back to the Dark Ages when I operated without one!

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  1. […] Secret to sanity: Allison’s weekly review […]

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