How Often Should I Review the Someday Maybe List?

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.

If you’ve been doing GTD a while, you probably have a huge someday maybe list full of ideas and wouldn’t-it-be-cools going back years. I do. It got me thinking about how often I should be checking them all. So how often should you review your someday maybe list?

Someday maybe should be reviewed once a week during the ‘Get Creative’ section of your weekly review, according to David Allen in Getting Things Done.

But do you really need to look at some of those lifetime goals, such as retiring in Thailand every week for the next 30 years? Check out the solutions below for a more efficient weekly review and a more streamlined Someday Maybe.

In this post, I will also answer the questions

  • When should you review someday maybe
  • How long should I spend reviewing someday maybe
  • How to review someday maybe
  • How to spend less time reviewing someday maybe

So how often should You Really Be Reviewing your Someday Maybe Lists?

I polled a few people I know that do GTD, and the answers came back from ‘daily’ to less than once a year. The average was about three months.

The truth is it depends on what’s on the list. If your list only contains life goals and things you might want to do in ten or more years, you don’t need to be reviewing it every week. On the other hand, you might move a project you don’t think you can get to soon to your someday maybe list. You might want to move that back to your projects list and ‘reactivate’ at any time. A regular review of such a project would help you know when it is right to start working on it again.

In reality, most people’s someday maybe list contains a mix of cool ideas, short-term goals, things they might want to buy, inactive tasks/projects, and things they don’t want to think about for another 30 years.

If you’ve just started GTD, your someday maybe list might not be too long, so reviewing it every week may not take too much time. As it grows, you might find yourself dreading having to go over it again, though.

As your list grows longer, it’s good practice to split up your someday maybe list.

Rather than splitting your someday maybe list based on category, such as ‘purchases,’ ‘things to learn,’ ‘experiences,’ ‘places to visit,’ etc., which is logical, split it by how often you think you will need to review its content.

For example, I have a someday maybe list called ‘Not Now.’ Anything that isn’t going to get done now goes on that list. Usually, I move them back to my active lists when I have more time. Every week I check Not Now in my weekly review as there is almost always something on there I can pull back into my action lists.

I also have a ‘Not Soon’ list that I don’t review weekly. Usually, I place tasks or projects on it that I know I will not work on for the following year. Often, if a task has been on ‘Not Now’ for a while, I may move it to ‘Not Soon.

I review my ‘Not Soon’ list every month or so or whenever I feel like taking a look. Usually, I don’t end up making anything active without a good reason.

Finally, I have my original ‘Someday Maybe’ list. This is for my actual long-term ideas/goals. It is usually months (sometimes years) between sitting down and reviewing this list. As I’ve gotten older, though, some of those long-term goals seem to be getting closer and closer, scary!

When Should I Review Someday Maybe?

When you do a Weekly Review

Your weekly review is the best time to review your someday maybe list. During your review, you have the time and space to think about those tasks. “Do I still want to do this?” “Should I start making progress on this now?” “Do I have the time/energy to start this now?”

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may want to think about moving the item from someday maybe into your active system.

You may also have tasks/projects on your active lists that you haven’t gotten to; if they’ve become less of a priority for you, you can consider moving them to someday maybe.

When you have a perspective shift

There are many circumstances in which you may want to review your someday maybe lists outside of the usual weekly review. Usually, it will be when your perspective has been bumped up to the higher rungs of the horizons of focus.

A death in the family may cause you to think about your life at the vision and principles levels (40,000 and 50,000 feet.) While thinking about your life at that higher altitude, looking at your long-term someday maybes may give you the perspective you need. There may be things on your someday maybe list that you know you want to achieve in your life but that you need to make some changes to be able to do in the future.

For example, if you see yourself retiring in a foreign country one day far off in the future, starting to learn the language (which will take years) might be something you should start thinking about now.

Similarly, if you get a job offer that may require you to move away next year, there may be things on your someday maybe lists that you thought you had plenty of time to do. However, the relocation may force you to consider doing them sooner than you expected if they are location specific.

When you’re not busy

Do you ever find yourself with not enough work to do? Do you ever have a weekend with nothing going on? If you do, it could be the perfect time to review someday maybe.

Of course, you could enjoy the free time and have what might be a well-deserved rest. But if you’re chomping at the bit, you can go through your someday maybe lists and move some tasks/projects over to your active lists.

And Boom, something to do! Bye bye weekend.

How long should I spend Reviewing Someday Maybe?

How often

Spend about 20 minutes reviewing Someday Maybe during your weekly review. A Weekly Review usually takes me between 60-90 minutes. Most of this time is (rightly) spent collecting loose tasks and ideas, corralling them into your system, and reviewing the active parts of your system (calendar, action lists, projects list, etc.)

I usually leave about 30 minutes for the ‘Get Creative’ section of the weekly review. I spend 20 minutes reviewing my Someday Maybe lists (usually ‘Not Now’ and ‘Not Soon.’)

Then I spend the remaining time just allowing my mind to wander and daydream about other cool things I would like to have or do. Any item that comes up I add to the someday maybe list appropriate to the time frame.

How to Review Someday Maybe and Spend Less Time Doing It

It is easy to get wrapped up in the daydreaming aspect when reviewing your someday maybes, imagining all the fun things you want to do eventually. But, unfortunately, if your list has 500+ someday maybes, you will never finish it.

It helps to be purpose-driven when reviewing your someday maybes. What is the purpose?

Reviewing your Someday Maybe list is to find anything that should be moved into my active system.

  1. Is this someday maybe now active? If so, move it to the appropriate list.
  2. Do I still want to do this one day? If not, delete it.

Once you have gone through your list with these two questions in mind, you can spend the rest of your review daydreaming.