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Please Share Your Best Practices for Prioritizing

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  • Please Share Your Best Practices for Prioritizing

    Okay, so I've captured everything that has my attention. Now I have lots of list staring me in the face. When, where, and how does prioritizing play a role in your daily and weekly planning? If I simply choose to work on what has my attention, how will I ensure that deadlines and the most important areas get the focus that they need?

  • #2
    Originally posted by debbieg View Post
    Okay, so I've captured everything that has my attention. Now I have lots of list staring me in the face. When, where, and how does prioritizing play a role in your daily and weekly planning? If I simply choose to work on what has my attention, how will I ensure that deadlines and the most important areas get the focus that they need?
    I assume first of all theyre all split into contexts. If not, do that. Next, anything that is day specific goes into your calendar (i.e. has to be done that day or youve missed your chance).

    I put reminders about hard deadlines into the calendar - so for a report due on Friday I put the reminder in on Monday, just as a safety net. I sometimes also put a reminder on the day, just to make sure it gets filed/emailed/posted.

    If I have a soft deadline, i.e. really should get in done by such-a-time but nothing more, I put the date prominently in the support folder. (the support folder for me is digital). This means that whenever I do a weekly review, or do some work on the project, the reminder is there staring me in the face.

    Sometimes if a project is a bit of a long one and I need to make sure im progressing on it, in the support material Il put a few key dates that I need to meet to make sure something gets moving along nicely. Again, a reminder in the calendar can be a nice little message to yourself, but you dont wanna abuse the system.

    Part of the point of the weekly review is that you get familiar with all the moving parts of work, so you get a feel for what's important and what's not, what's become a greater priority as time passes and what becomes less important. You just kind of get to know your work, so you have a lot less worrying about whether you're doing the right thing at a given time.

    If you can get all your Next Actions done in a week or less, you don't generally have to worry too much about daily reviews, I find anyway. however if you have far more than you can do, you need to spend an extra 10 mins or so in the morning looking through and choosing the ones with the biggest impact. Personally I print off the list and highlight the key ones.

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    • #3
      Thanks and a follow up Q

      Originally posted by bishblaize View Post
      I assume first of all theyre all split into contexts. If not, do that. Next, anything that is day specific goes into your calendar (i.e. has to be done that day or youve missed your chance).

      I put reminders about hard deadlines into the calendar - so for a report due on Friday I put the reminder in on Monday, just as a safety net. I sometimes also put a reminder on the day, just to make sure it gets filed/emailed/posted.

      If I have a soft deadline, i.e. really should get in done by such-a-time but nothing more, I put the date prominently in the support folder. (the support folder for me is digital). This means that whenever I do a weekly review, or do some work on the project, the reminder is there staring me in the face.

      Sometimes if a project is a bit of a long one and I need to make sure im progressing on it, in the support material Il put a few key dates that I need to meet to make sure something gets moving along nicely. Again, a reminder in the calendar can be a nice little message to yourself, but you dont wanna abuse the system.

      Part of the point of the weekly review is that you get familiar with all the moving parts of work, so you get a feel for what's important and what's not, what's become a greater priority as time passes and what becomes less important. You just kind of get to know your work, so you have a lot less worrying about whether you're doing the right thing at a given time.

      If you can get all your Next Actions done in a week or less, you don't generally have to worry too much about daily reviews, I find anyway. however if you have far more than you can do, you need to spend an extra 10 mins or so in the morning looking through and choosing the ones with the biggest impact. Personally I print off the list and highlight the key ones.
      Thanks for sharing this. To answer your question, yes, my system is sorted by context although I am still experimenting and tweaking which lists are the right ones for me. Do you have a separate list for each project or do you move action items from your project list to other context lists?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by debbieg View Post
        Thanks for sharing this. To answer your question, yes, my system is sorted by context although I am still experimenting and tweaking which lists are the right ones for me. Do you have a separate list for each project or do you move action items from your project list to other context lists?
        I use a program (OneNote) that does both for you. You write the Next Actions under the heading of the project, tag them with the appropriate context, and then the program will then pull out and sort all the tagged next actions for you. Several programs will do this, including Omnifocus I believe, and Remember the Milk.

        The idea is that if theyre only in one place, theyre in the context list, not under the project heading. Otherwise you have to look through every project each time you want to find something to do. if nothing else you might not have access to the project list when you're out and about, but you can take a @Shops list with you.

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        • #5
          I use Outlook for my action lists, so if there is a deadline, I just set that as the due date. That way, I can sort my action lists by due date as well as by context, so if I'm in a context with relatively few limitations, like at work, I can see what is the most urgent thing to work on. I have my taskpad set to show only tasks that are due today, so once I've dealt with the hard landscape, I work on the taskpad tasks first. If I have time left over after that, I go and look at the other task views to see what I feel like doing next.

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          • #6
            Covey

            I think, after many years of playing with other "tools" that Stephen Covey's approach is still without peer.

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            • #7
              gery: after many years of playing with other "tools" that Stephen Covey's approach is still without peer.
              For higher level thinking, Covey does a great job in their approach. There can be a wonderful marriage for people who want to use both the Covey and GTD approaches. If you think of the GTD Horizons of Focus, Covey focuses primarily at the Purpose/50,000 level. GTD starts where people often have their attention at the Runway level and goes up the Horizons from there.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by kelstarrising View Post
                There can be a wonderful marriage for people who want to use both the Covey and GTD approaches.
                I have to admit I haven to yet figure out how to do it exactly, and I'm new to GTD. My approach is evolution rather than revolution -- I want to try GTD concepts and see how they work for me.

                The main idea that attracted me to GTD is it's focus on managing "stuff", as I see myself accumulating more and more of it without any effective tool to utilize it.

                The bottom line questions for me are: Do I need it? Why do I need it? and How do I make it useful? -- all three in the context of time management?

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                • #9
                  Hello again Gery!

                  You wrote: I see myself accumulating more and more of it without any effective tool to utilize it.
                  This is exactly where GTD excels (and where Covey users most frequently share with us that they are struggling by the way.) I would suggest the GTD Implementation Guide to walk you through the tactical steps of getting a GTD system off the ground. I think it will really help with the foundational pieces of GTD to be able to layer the higher-level work you like with Covey on top of.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks.

                    Originally posted by kelstarrising View Post
                    For higher level thinking, Covey does a great job in their approach.
                    I know it's about GTD, but I would like to emphasize the Covey's concepts that are worth considering:
                    1. The focus on who you are -- "the roles" before what you do.
                    2. The focus on people rather then "things" -- people are the most important context of our lives.
                    3. The focus on the weekly framework as primary perspective.

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                    • #11
                      You have to have time!

                      Originally posted by gery View Post
                      I know it's about GTD, but I would like to emphasize the Covey's concepts that are worth considering:
                      1. The focus on who you are -- "the roles" before what you do.
                      2. The focus on people rather then "things" -- people are the most important context of our lives.
                      3. The focus on the weekly framework as primary perspective.
                      Yes, it is very important but you have to have time to think about your roles.

                      People overwhelmed by the incoming stuff don't have any spare time.

                      GTD creates a thinking space in their lives.

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                      • #12
                        I didn't mean to start an argument about GTD versus Covey -- just shared my perspective on prioritizing. Both approaches (top-down & bottom-up) have their uses.
                        Great topic!

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