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Using your calendar for planning

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  • Using your calendar for planning

    I'm not sure why David Allen is so averse to using the calendar as a planning tool. Keeping all of your work that needs doing on dedicated lists makes sense. But keeping all your important dates about projects in separate folders instead of on one calendar seems a bit loony. Why wouldn't you want to see all of your due dates at once? Why shouldn't you plan the day and times that you want to work on something, even if it doesn't HAVE TO be done that day? While I like the whole process of capturing and clarifying I still need a plan for doing and I'm usually juggling multiple projects. I fundamentally don't see why your calendar shouldn't be part of your daily and weekly planning.

    EO

  • #2
    Originally posted by ero213 View Post
    ... I fundamentally don't see why your calendar shouldn't be part of your daily and weekly planning.

    EO
    I don't think he ever said that - I believe he just said to keep only absolute hard deadlines on there, not next actions. I know I used to be guilty of that one - I would schedule tasks hoping to get to them, but I wound up just perpetually postponing them, which was quite counterproductive. Also, I like to keep my calendar fairly clear - it drives me crazy if it gets cluttered with things that are not absolute essentials.

    That said, I am a huge fan of a few well-placed Outlook alerts for time-critical tasks, where there is only a small window available when they can be completed, like talking to a busy heavily-scheduled person, etc.

    But my calendar definitely is part of the weekly review - especially looking ahead to the next week's schedule.

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    • #3
      I'm not sure why David Allen is so averse to using the calendar as a planning tool.
      I don't think you have this correct as a GTD best practice.

      Your Calendar is very much a critical component of your GTD system. It's part of your daily reviews of your "hard landscape" and your Weekly Reviews as well. I would encourage you to check the GTD book for lots of great references on your Calendar and how it can be used in your planning.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by kelstarrising View Post
        I don't think you have this correct as a GTD best practice.

        Your Calendar is very much a critical component of your GTD system. It's part of your daily reviews of your "hard landscape" and your Weekly Reviews as well. I would encourage you to check the GTD book for lots of great references on your Calendar and how it can be used in your planning.
        That's exactly what I'm getting at. Why not put your "soft landscape" in your calendar? IMO, your soft landscape IS your daily or weekly plan. I understand David Allen's goal to be scalable (ie GTD could work as well for a computer programmer as for an ER physician). However, there is sort of an implicit assumption that we're all completely out of control and constantly working our way out the "weeds" (leaning more to the ER side of things). However, if you're using David's excellent process of capturing and organizing you begin to get control and can begin to start using your calendar to schedule things with greater certainty. Without that kind of scheduling I fear the tendency would be to work on urgent tasks without making time to do those more difficult, long-term tasks with greater pay off. Granted, there are going to be days when things fall apart but not everyone, has that kind of day, everyday. Then what?

        EO

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Spalding View Post
          I don't think he ever said that - I believe he just said to keep only absolute hard deadlines on there, not next actions. I know I used to be guilty of that one - I would schedule tasks hoping to get to them, but I wound up just perpetually postponing them, which was quite counterproductive. Also, I like to keep my calendar fairly clear - it drives me crazy if it gets cluttered with things that are not absolute essentials.
          I think that's fine, but its a preference and may vary by people's situation. Also, here is an insight: the farther in the future something is, the less certainty we have about it. So assigning a specific time to a specific action on a day way in the future is kind of ridiculous. But assigning a time to specific action in the morning that you plan to do later that day makes more sense. Also, assigning a particular day to do something within the week also isn't implausible. I'm not saying this should replace a repository for all you need to do, but I'm speaking specifically about making a plan about when you intend to do something.

          But my calendar definitely is part of the weekly review - especially looking ahead to the next week's schedule.
          Is this schedule only composed of "hard landscape" must-dos in there per David Allen? Or also soft lanscape?

          EO

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          • #6
            Because many calendars are full of hard landscape items.

            Originally posted by ero213 View Post
            Why not put your "soft landscape" in your calendar?
            Because many calendars are full of hard landscape items.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
              Because many calendars are full of hard landscape items.
              But many aren't eg freelancers, entrepreneurs, programmers, designers, etc. Basically the whole creative class. They lack an externally-imposed structure, so may need their own self-imposed one.

              What's been working well for me is to do a daily review, figure out what's most important to accomplish for the day and then schedule those tasks I know are going to require a chunk or multiple chunks of time. In between, I process and work on the less time-consuming tasks.

              It might add I am a staff video/producer editor and largely work by myself, so aside from actual production days I have a lot of discretion over how I use my time.

              EO

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ero213 View Post
                That's exactly what I'm getting at. Why not put your "soft landscape" in your calendar?
                For me my calendar has 3 types of data in it.

                1. Hard landscape scheduled things either for a specific day or specific day and time that I cannot easily change or modify. Examples include: The dentist apt, the scheduled meeting with the county commissioners regarding gas drilling, the day the rams have to come out from the breeding pens and the day the backup rams have to go in.

                2. Hard landscape things that I might want to attend or do but that I am unclear on. However, I know that if I don't reserve the time I'll never get the opportunity to decide later. Examples: The scrapbook workshop just before Christmas, the open house at the yoga studio, a know your farmer farm tour at a local orchard.

                3. The diary of how my time was actually spent. The past history if you will. Examples, for yesterday I have the time I did chores blocked out and how many bales of hay each group of animals was fed. The time I spent working on my poultry scrapbook. the time I spent doing e-mail and forums. The time I spent paying bills and so on.

                If I start putting soft things in my calendar then it get's very difficult to impossible to keep it current. Example: I have a soft item of going to the bank to order a check in UK pounds to pay for registrations for the rams. I think we might get to town today but maybe not until later int eh week. Should I put that item on a calendar and then have to juggle it forward each day? It only makes sense to just leave it on the list and when I go in to town check the list before I leave to make sure I've done all my errands.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ero213 View Post
                  Why not put your "soft landscape" in your calendar?
                  Try it and see. You may be one of the rare people who don't end up moving the soft landscape so often that it's more effort than working off context lists. For many of us, it's more efficient to decide how to use the next 2 hours when they show up. Depends on your areas of focus. You'll find from your experience whether adding soft landscape works for you, based on how often you do or don't actually get to those soft landscape items.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by perry29m View Post
                    Try it and see. You may be one of the rare people who don't end up moving the soft landscape so often that it's more effort than working off context lists. For many of us, it's more efficient to decide how to use the next 2 hours when they show up. Depends on your areas of focus. You'll find from your experience whether adding soft landscape works for you, based on how often you do or don't actually get to those soft landscape items.
                    I see your point. Of course, I'm not talking only "soft landscape" in the sense of actions. You can theoretically schedule time to work on actions, projects, AOF, and goals. In fact, I'd say scheduling may work better at the upper HOF than at the lower because you are less specifically dictating what you plan to do in that timeframe.

                    For example, I block out the hours of my work day. Sometimes it shifts a bit but if I don't keep track of how many hours I'm spending at work then things can quickly get out of balance. I know I did this for about 2 years in my current job.

                    Without some boundaries, the pitfalls of GTD are that it can either lead to extreme procrastination for Type Bs and workaholism for Type As.

                    EO

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                    • #11
                      Calendars vs. lists

                      It seems a bit as if you're trying to argue that David Allen got it wrong and the calendar is the best way to structure your day. If that's true for you--great! But I'm a self-employed Consultant and I use the calendar for hard-landscape stuff only and have no problem working from my lists. My lists and my projects drive me much more than my calendar does.

                      But you should do what works well for you. And those of us working successfully with GTD as it was intended can do what works well for us.

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                      • #12
                        This is similar to discussions on deadlines versus guideline or 'wish' dates. For some tasks it does make sense to add soft items to your calendar so that they get done in a timely manner. I tend to do this but not with everything, you have to be careful not to put too much into your calendar otherwise you just work off that only and forget the context lists. You also need to be able to distinguish on your calendar what is a true deadline and can't be changed without renegotiation, and which are dates you've set yourself, which can be changed easily. There is a middle ground, I don't believe it's one way or the other.

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                        • #13
                          I'm saying the "hard landscape" only dictum will create problems for many people. Especially for those in careers that require periods of sustained focus. If I'm a business person it probably works quite well, I'll simply check off my list of emails, meetings, travel plans, etc. Contexts make more sense here because I can get more emails sent out if I batch them together.

                          But if I'm a self-employed writer (or a variety of other creative careers) I need blocks of sustained time to write. If I don't put that into my calendar I'm more likely to spend time on trivial things and not get down to the mentally-taxing work of writing.

                          Also, blocking your calendar makes sense for establishing work-life balance and for blocking out time to spend with people (AOF/Roles). If you have goals separate from your work you might need to block out time to work on those.

                          If you take all of this together, it begins to take the shape of a "weekly plan". Based on things that David Allen and staff have written I have a hunch that they use their calendars in this way to some degree.

                          EO


                          Originally posted by Barb View Post
                          It seems a bit as if you're trying to argue that David Allen got it wrong and the calendar is the best way to structure your day. If that's true for you--great! But I'm a self-employed Consultant and I use the calendar for hard-landscape stuff only and have no problem working from my lists. My lists and my projects drive me much more than my calendar does.

                          But you should do what works well for you. And those of us working successfully with GTD as it was intended can do what works well for us.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            David does accept this in a certain way

                            Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding has always been that GTD does allow to block time to work on certain things, it then becomes like a meeting with yourself and goes to your calendar like any other hard landscape item...

                            This works well for bigger blocks of time (like ero213 points out) to create some "do" time or to work on a specific project... and to prevent that others book meetings during that block of time.

                            Myriam

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                            • #15
                              GTD NEEDS to be customized to the person using it

                              sometimes in little ways, sometimes in bigger ways. Don't let the GTD guidelines which are there for a reason, prevent you from ignoring them when doing things that way works best for you.

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