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Does David Allen pre-choose what to do the next day?

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  • Does David Allen pre-choose what to do the next day?

    Does David Allen pre-choose what Projects (Next Actions) to do next day or he chooses in the moment?

  • #2
    It's all about the Weekly Reviews.

    Originally posted by Makarin View Post
    Does David Allen pre-choose what Projects (Next Actions) to do next day or he chooses in the moment?
    I think it's all about intuition that is built when you consistently do the Weekly Reviews.

    Comment


    • #3
      It means yes or no?

      Comment


      • #4
        I think that is a yes and no

        it is yes, in a sense that during weekly review you do decide on which projects/NA's you will focus during the upcoming week

        it is no, in a sense that you don't actually make a "to do list for tomorrow"

        Myriam

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        • #5
          No.

          Next Action lists should allow you to select what is important right now given context (examples include Calls or Computer), energy level, time available compared to other actions on the list.

          This prioritisation is difficult to record in a structured way and relies on your intuition at the time. Regular weekly review will help remind you of areas of focus to 'tune' your intuition.

          If something has to be completed on a particular day, it could be included as an 'all day event' to be completed that day.

          Regards
          Paul

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          • #6
            Myriam, Weekly Review Q

            Originally posted by Myriam View Post
            it is yes, in a sense that during weekly review you do decide on which projects/NA's you will focus during the upcoming week

            it is no, in a sense that you don't actually make a "to do list for tomorrow"

            Myriam
            So when you do your weekly review and you decide you are going to work on X, Y, Z NA's, do you schedule those on your calendar? How do you keep those specific NA's top of mind for the week?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by debbieg View Post
              So when you do your weekly review and you decide you are going to work on X, Y, Z NA's, do you schedule those on your calendar? How do you keep those specific NA's top of mind for the week?
              I don't schedule them myself but I review all my next action lists every morning so I get reminded then of the things I need to focus on. So much of my stuff is weather related that I can't often put even an all day item into the mix as I may not be able to do it on that exact day.

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              • #8
                Consider my case. Tomorrow I have the following schedule:

                09:00 - 11:00 - Meeting 1
                11:00 - 12:00 - Commute to the next meeting
                12:00 - 13:30 - Meeting 2
                14:00 - 14:30 - Meeting 3
                15:00 - 15:30 - Meeting 4
                16:00 - 17:00 - Meeting 5
                17:00 - 18:00 - Commute home
                19:00 - 20:00 - Sports & Spanish lesson

                I have no too much time in between meetings. Some of that time is commute. I have on my actions lists 13 calls, 1 office action, 10 computer actions, 16 home actions and 22 waiting fors. How should I choose which of them to do tomorrow? Should I pre-choose not to waste time tomorrow for choosing and make sure I move the most important ones? Or what?

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                • #9
                  Daily to do lists

                  I've been wondering about this, too. Before GTD, I used to make daily to-do lists, or even sometimes micro to-do lists (for example, what do I need to do at home tonight?).

                  That wasn't working too well, which is one reason I turned to GTD. And I know GTD isn't about making to do lists.

                  But as I'm implementing, I still often feel the need to pre-define some specific tasks that I've decided I really want to work on TODAY (or in whatever time frame), if possible. I use Omnifocus as my list manager, and I don't necessarily want to have to review my possible next actions after each one if I "know" I need/want to do a, b, c and d today.

                  I feel like I can do a review for that day and choose from my list which items I want to focus on, and writing them down helps me not have to either a) keep them in my head or b) go back to the list and either remember or re-decide what to do next. The re-deciding feels especially taxing.

                  So please, veteran GTDers, what pitfalls are there with this approach to a to-do list? Does this work for you? One thing I do notice is that (especially since I'm new at this) I tend to want to collect things to the daily to-do list once I make it, bypassing my list manager. Then if that item doesn't get done, I have to process it and put it on a list. That could become a slippery slope, but I think it could also fit into a GTD flow. What do you all think?

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                  • #10
                    Does David Allen pre-choose what Projects (Next Actions) to do next day or he chooses in the moment?
                    I can't speak for David, but I can tell you what GTD says and my personal experience as a Coach:

                    You have 3 choices in the moment:
                    1. Pre-defined work (what's already on your lists/calendar, etc.)
                    2. Defining work (deciding to process/define work, like process email)
                    3. Do work as it appears (work on what just showed up like an interruption, something you just decide to work on, etc.)

                    It's a balance between those 3. So yes, there are some things decided before each day shows up (pre-defined), but there are also many, many things we all choose to do in the moment. I can't imagine ever only just working on what's on my list or calendar--that would really seem "anti-GTD" to me. In fact, there's a great video I love of David on GTD Connect where he talks about pruning his pine tree because that's what he felt like doing. Wasn't on any list, but that's what he chose to do. That video is called "You are not your work" if you search for that on Connect. I see many of you have Connect badges on your Forum profiles, so you can access it.

                    Does that help?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I can tell you what I do, although I can hardly say anyone else "should" do it too.

                      I do a couple of related things which seem to be a little unusual (but maybe they're not) when it comes to GTD:

                      1. I often don't review my entire NA list. Most often I'll read through the list until I see something that I feel like doing, and then I'll start doing that thing, aborting the rest of the list review.

                      2. I sort my NA list. A lot. If I see something I think I'll be doing in the near future, I move that item up near the top of the list. If I see something I'm pretty sure I won't be doing soon, I move it to the back of the list.

                      That's all there is to it, and it seems to be working pretty well for me personally. Maybe it'll work for you.

                      (Of course, I've still entirely dodged the question of "Yeah but HOW do you DECIDE what to do?" An awful lot has been written on that subject already so I think I'll leave it for another day.)


                      Cheers,
                      Roger

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        weekly review

                        Originally posted by debbieg View Post
                        So when you do your weekly review and you decide you are going to work on X, Y, Z NA's, do you schedule those on your calendar? How do you keep those specific NA's top of mind for the week?
                        My system is entirely in one excel sheet. My NA's can have a due date assigned (if there is one) or a wish date (in a different column, a date that I would "like" to finish them).

                        During my weekly review when I decide in general on which projects/actions I will be working on or would like to work on during the upcoming week. I give those a wish date, for example next friday. That means that in my list they show up right after the ones with a due date (I sort first on due date, then on wish date). So I know at any time what items I really must do (the ones with due dates) and what items I wanted to work on during the last review (the wish dates).

                        Sometimes I do something completely different from what I anticipated with my wish dates, and then I simply erase or report the wish date. I never transfer that kind of items to and from my calendar.

                        What I start to notice is that when things are going really well (gdt-wise), I have very few NA's with hard due dates, simply because in the flow of reviewing, deciding and acting on wish dates all my NA's get done before the actual due date arrives. That is when I really feel "wow, i'm doing things before they become urgent, and I really am on top of things".

                        Myriam

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                        • #13
                          Just after a brief glance at my list.

                          Originally posted by Makarin View Post
                          I have on my actions lists 13 calls, 1 office action, 10 computer actions, 16 home actions and 22 waiting fors. How should I choose which of them to do tomorrow? Should I pre-choose not to waste time tomorrow for choosing and make sure I move the most important ones? Or what?
                          When I have 13 calls on my list and I did my Weekly Review I can tell which call I should make right now just after a brief glance at my list.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Excel Spreadsheet Example--Q for Myriam

                            Originally posted by Myriam View Post
                            My system is entirely in one excel sheet. My NA's can have a due date assigned (if there is one) or a wish date (in a different column, a date that I would "like" to finish them).

                            During my weekly review when I decide in general on which projects/actions I will be working on or would like to work on during the upcoming week. I give those a wish date, for example next friday. That means that in my list they show up right after the ones with a due date (I sort first on due date, then on wish date). So I know at any time what items I really must do (the ones with due dates) and what items I wanted to work on during the last review (the wish dates).

                            Sometimes I do something completely different from what I anticipated with my wish dates, and then I simply erase or report the wish date. I never transfer that kind of items to and from my calendar.

                            What I start to notice is that when things are going really well (gdt-wise), I have very few NA's with hard due dates, simply because in the flow of reviewing, deciding and acting on wish dates all my NA's get done before the actual due date arrives. That is when I really feel "wow, i'm doing things before they become urgent, and I really am on top of things".

                            Myriam
                            Very interesting Myriam. Would you be willing to share an example of your spreadsheet with me?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Two different but (hopefully!) equally valid answers to the question:

                              1) the key distinction you need to make with your calendar versus your lists is between things that MUST be done on a particular day (they have to be done that day or not at all) and things that would be NICE to get done on a particular day (it would make you happy/fulfilled if they got done that day, but nothing is going to fall apart if they don't). If you start pre-choosing actions to work on it can be easy to blur the distinction between those two types of actions. If you're going to pre-choose, you need to make sure that you do it and record it in a way that makes the distinction clear. I personally like to think about 2-3 "most important tasks" -- things that don't HAVE to be done that day but that, among the things on my lists, seem like the most important ones to work on if I get to, but I record them on my calendar in a different way (different label and marking color) from the calendar items that MUST get done that day.

                              2) As I've gotten better at developing and maintaining my next actions lists, I've found that it matters less and less which specific action I choose at an given point in time -- all of the actions on my list are going to get dealt with on a relatively short cycle (in my world, no more than 2 weeks) and I find that as long as I'm looking at my lists regularly and keeping them up to date I can pick just about anything in the moment of choice and feel pretty good about it.

                              --Marc

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