I just did a Review and it took 4 hours guys! Opinions

I just feel if I did that every week, it’s time spent that I could be focusing on my Business.How long does it take you guys to Review?

For perspective, I own and rent 3 properties and currently developing a retail Business. I am also moving countries in December and then will be moving back to England in March.

I am thinking to next time Review only the most important projects. Tonight I just did everything, and things like my ‘books to read’ list does not need to be review every week if you get me.

I don’t have Pro for Mac but is there a way to setup a Perspective with Reviews, like, I can choose the specific folder for Review, e.g., I could load all my business projects and label it Business Review, and another one called ’ Home Review’ and list all my rent reminders and stuff in that one.

The books’ to read type can wait.

What are you guys doing, how long is it taking you???

Part of me was thinking after the 4 hours tonight, just to skip the whole review idea altogether. I mean in the end we cannot control anything outside of ourselves, we can only try and put in the effort, stress is not in the ‘event’ it’s in the way we react to the challenging events in our lives anyway.

What are the reasons for you guys doing reviews and how does it help, not help???

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I stagger my reviews. See this post.

My reviews take about 15 min per day in the mornings. Over seven days, that is a total of about two hours.



I agree with @DrJJWMac. My reviews take just 15 minutes per day in the morning as well. It’s tough to find a 4 hour block to do anything for me nowadays. Maybe 30-60 minute blocks. But I’d be surprised to see a solid block of free time over 90 minutes which is something I don’t often get.

I stagger many of my reviews for the different projects. Maintenance single action lists (just stuff to maintain my life such as clean the bathrooms, mow the lawn, file weekly reports) are reviewed once a week just so I know what is going on.

Stuff like the books reading list are probably once every 6 months to a year. This kind of project doesn’t really need much oversight.

If it is a current Big Rock project that I am actively working on now, I’d like to stick to a weekly review. But if the Big Rock project has a lot of activity (new tasks added, deleted, or completed on a constant basis) will probably get a shorter review such as 1 day to every 3 days or so.

For example, I might have a “Coordinate Christmas advertisement campaign” set to be reviewed once a year. Typically, about October 1 every year for me. I don’t need this to be reviewed every month. Once a year is fine. When Christmas season starts, this becomes my Big Rock project. I’ll want to keep a closer eye on this. So I’ll set the review interval to once every 3 days (or even once a day if needed). When I wake up in the morning, this will show up more frequently and I can monitor this project more closely. When Christmas season ends, I can reset the review interval back to a longer timespan.

Most of my Someday/Maybe projects are set to once a month. I’ll get a chance to see these On Hold projects and figure whether I want to delete it, delegate it to someone else, or set the project status to Active.

As soon as a I mark a project as reviewed, I’m confident enough to know that I can pretty much forget about it until the next review. I’m not worried about forgetting about because I safely stored it away in OmniFocus.


Lengthen and stagger your review times. I have some up to three months, & part of my review is to decide if the interval can be increased. 4 hours is crazy. I rarely spend over ten minutes.


To stay on top of things. I can become aware of a project’s activity or inactivity and be informed. Then I can decide whether to take action now, keep it in Someday/Maybe mode (project status is on hold), delete it, or revise it to make action-taking more realistic.

If I had to do 4 hour reviews, I would also be more inclined to not even do it anymore. Breaking it up into 10-15 minute increments a day encourages me to do the daily review. The weekly review was a GTD convention that was helpful in 2001 when the GTD book was written. Nowadays, apps such as OmniFocus can help deal with the review cycle more easily. It’s easier to do a daily review for your more demanding projects, a weekly review for projects that don’t require so much handholding, a monthly review just to see your someday/maybe stuff, and even longer reviews for projects that are way off into the future.

When you feel that your life is spiraling out of control, then you can do an overall review to try to reset yourself and re-prioritize your projects.This overall review will probably take you up to 4 hours.

The very first review is also the lengthiest because you have to look at everything for the first time. Afterwards, it gets easier. When I did the weekly review earlier in my GTD life, it would take me 2 hours. I hated every minute of it. But now, I actually look forward to the different review cycles. It’s much cleaner and painless.


I review for two reasons only

  1. Should I change the status of this Project?
  2. Should I add tasks to, remove tasks from, or mark tasks completed in this Project.

Short, sweet … done.



I think cadence and consistency play a role here. My first reviews also took hours to get through. It felt like for every project I reviewed, I spawned three more, and had several actions needing to be added to each (it probably felt that way because that was what was happening).

The good news for me was discovering that my mind is not infinite. The volume of things I would need to add shrank sharply after a few reviews, and my system started to stabilize. In other words, as my reviews triggered mental backlog, that backlog cleared over time.

I’ve also gotten better at sorting out how often I need to review my system’s various sections. Some are daily, some weekly, some monthly, and some only when I feel a need to (ranging between quarterly and never).

YMMV, but I found that creating a consistent practice made reviewing much easier, not just because practice improves the process, but because practice also actually reduces how much there is to even do.

Good luck!



I agree with wilsonng’s comments that DrJJWMac posted. If it is taking you four hours to do a review you probably have too much active in Omnifocus. Next time you do your four-hour review think about each item and ask yourself if you need to do it in the near future. If not, put the action or project into a Someday/Maybe project.

Your books to read list is a good candidate for Someday/Maybe. Figure out which one you want to read next and leave it active, then put the rest on the Someday/Maybe.

I would not encourage staggered reviews. One of the advantages of the weekly review is thinking of other projects that I don’t currently have, and I only have to think about those once a week. If I were doing something like a project a day, I would either be ignoring new projects and tasks, or thinking about the new ones each day.

Regarding why to do the review, the goal is to have a next-action list you can trust, that doesn’t have a lot of cruft to ignore. That’s why you should move most or all of your books to read to the Someday/Maybe, and perhaps other stuff. It is also a chance to check off items that you completed. A test of the system is to look at your next-action list one day at work and see how much of it you can actually do right now. If you find yourself mentally skipping items, then you need to prune more in the review. If your next actions all are things you could be doing, then you may have to move some things to Someday/Maybe, delegate, or postpone.

To counter … I’d encourage them. I gain much by doing a review of my “Big Rocks” more often than a review of my one-off @Admin lists. I stagger my Big Rocks that are due in the next week to review daily. Others stagger every 2 or 3 days (depending on my sense of importance). At the far extreme, I have my someday list that only gets reviewed every few months.


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It is fine to review some projects more often than weekly, but a weekly review to catch things outside of your projects, review your calendar, and get your inbox to zero is still good so you know you have everything cleaned up.

Same here.

And I’d say there’s nothing to do with too much active or not. On-Hold projects are also reviewed.

The first reviews always take a lot of time - you are thinking new things and usually fiddling with small details that really don’t match with your ideia.
When your system (and I don’t mean projects) stabilizes, the time to review usually shortens a bit mostly because the recurring mind sweeps clean up everything, and you get in the habit of doing them.
I have taken a whole day to do a weekly review because it was a hectic time in office and at home and so things pilled up.

The discussion of full or staggered reviews is enormous and will usually result in you seeing what works for you, nothing else.
I do a full review every week to see how much my plate is full and how I’m encompassing all, making sure that all areas of my life are in place, including on hold and someday projects. And then I do staggered reviews through the week in more active (changes a lot) projects, so they can be up to date.
But this decision is yours - do you fell that you are in control with smaller reviews or you get the feeling that something is missing? If it is missing, do a full review.
Perhaps you can do smaller reviews and then do the full review once a month, or once every two weeks.
Your intuition is at play here, how do you feel relaxed?

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Most , if not all, of my on hold projects are set to once a month. There’s a reason why it’s on hold. I’m not gonna worry about them. They’re all on the back burner. They don’t need to be reviewed on a constant basis. The only projects that are reviewed more frequently are currently active projects.

Projects, whether it is active or on hold, will eventually be reviewed anyways.

I need 15-30 minutes for my weekly review, which is not too bad, but it feels very exhausting. I insist on reviewing my whole OF list every week because I sometimes make typos and accidentally add tasks to a completely unrelated project that might even be on hold – only a thorough review will catch those.

To keep reviews short, I have moved a lot of “stuff” from OmniFocus to other services: If I want to see a movie, I put it on my watch list on IMDb. If I want to read a book, I order the free excerpt to my Kindle as a reminder. Hobby programming projects go on GitHub and I can file issues there instead of having them in my OmniFocus. etc…

Projects and actions in a Someday/Maybe list won’t be as detailed as ones that are active, to they can be reviewed more quickly. Pretty much all that needs to be checked is the project name. Only if you decide to make the project active will you then need to go through the project tasks, otherwise you can move on to the next project or task in the list. This saves time in the weekly review as well as every day when reviewing the list and deciding what to do.

Your choice, your setup. Projects, on-hold or not, will always show up for review. OmniFocus won’t treat them differently.

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I use the OF Review function only for my full reviews which occur once a week during a scheduled 30 minute block of time. I do a full review of all projects and someday/maybes once a week with the exception of my reading wishlist which happens every 3 months during one of those weekly full reviews. So that’s 30 minutes per week for a full review.

I also do mini-reviews every workday which takes 5-10 minutes per day. I do not use the Review function for the daily mini-reviews.

In total that’s about 80 minutes per week for OF maintenance overhead as part of reviews.I personally find this time well spent—I never question whether I’m forgetting something I’ve committed to, or whether I’m taking action towards completing one of my objectives for the quarter.

I probably don’t have to spend a lot of time during the full weekly review because of this daily review and the intimacy and familiarity with projects that it creates. Another thing to keep in mind is that my weekly review is directly linked to my 90 day plan. Every week during the review I ruthlessly trim active OF projects to ensure all activity aligns to objectives in my 90 day plan. This keeps the number of active project concerns under control and focused.

My workday mini-review consist of this checklist:

  1. Look at my current goals and outcomes [summary of my 90 day plan]
  2. Process OF Inbox
  3. Review calendar [scheduled commitments]
  4. Review Waiting and Delegated actions that I need to follow up on [I always assign a due date for delegated actions so I take follow up action in a timely manner if needed]
  5. Timebox what I must complete today
  6. Timebox what other things I’d like to complete today

I do spend perhaps 4 hours once per quarter for my quarterly planning. I don’t count that as OF review time because it happens apart from the OF review. The quarterly plan becomes the blueprint and drives what remains a project in OF, or what is culled every week.


It depends. My regular weekly reviews are usually less than an hour. If I’ve missed one or get sidetracked into doing they can morph into several hours but I find that is not very efficient. Quarterly reviews when I do major changes of seasonal items are typically about 2-4 hours spread out over a week.

One critical thing I had to learn, and it seems re-learn ever few years, is that I should always go into review with empty inboxes. If I haven’t spent the hour to hour and a half each day it takes to process my inboxes down to zero then my weekly review is time consuming and draining. When I start with empty inboxes, or at least less than a dozen items to process first then review flies by and is invigorating and up-lifting.

Lots of my someday/maybe stuff doesn’t even live in OF so it’s easy to read it as needed. Whole classes of stuff only needs to get reviewed once a quarter which is why the quarterly reviews take longer.

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It doesn’t matter that OmniFocus handles Someday/Maybe projects the same way as other projects, the point I am making is that as a human you can treat them differently. Say I want to build a deck in the back of my house, but I’m not ready yet. Maybe I want some other projects to get done first, maybe I want better weather, whatever. There is no way I can do it now. I put it in my Someday/Maybe list as “Build deck”, and I’m done. When I review it, I see “Build deck” and move on until I’m ready to start that project. When I do I flesh out all the details and make it an active project. In the meantime I have saved lots of time not reviewing the whole project every week.

Say, though, I want to plan out the project ahead of time even if I’m not ready to do it. I’m still going to put it in the Someday/Maybe list, but I’m not going to go down into the details unless I thought of something new. I’m still going to see the “Build Deck” project and move on unless I’m ready to start work.

If the project is in my active projects, though, I need to go through each step for each weekly review, because I need to know exactly what I should be doing now. This requires more work each week, a problem I’m trying to avoid. So putting projects I have no chance of actually working on for a while onto the Someday/Maybe list saves time in the weekly review.

Suggest increasing the time between reviews for your SM projects. That will make a big difference.

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