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When To Schedule NA's? And, when NOT to Schedule NA's?

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  • When To Schedule NA's? And, when NOT to Schedule NA's?

    Hi,

    As I understand it, nothing goes on the calendar than doesn't absolutely have to get done on that day at that time. Actions are to be chosen from NA lists during non-scheduled daily time.

    So, if I have 10 projects with long terms deadlines, how do I ensure that a NA gets done to move the project along before I get too far behind? How can I keep the project moving forward at a minimally acceptable pace?

    I can't schedule it for Tuesday, because it could just as easily be done Wednesday or Thursday. But if I don't schedule it, how will it ever get done in a reasonable amount of time? I can anticipate a couple of practices to this problem, but am eager to hear how other people address this same issue.

    Thank you, very much.

  • #2
    I'd be interested to hear other comments on this, but here's how I do it. As background - my role means I typically have quite large slabs of time in the same context ('work') with only a modest amount of time in meetings/appointments (ie, calendar items).

    I aim to use the GTD prioritisation steps to at least guide me - that is, in descending order: context, time, energy, priority. That said, at work, I'm in the one context, which typically makes up about 75% or more of my NAs. In terms of time - this is usually not a barrier, as I'll frequently have 4-6 hour windows that are uncommitted. Therefore it comes down to energy (which I overlay 'motivation' on) and priority.

    Practically, I typically print off my context-filtered NA list each day, and flag those items that I expect I will have energy/motivation for, along with those that have are the highest priority, and get going on them. There are usually maybe 2-3 items that are absolute 'must do' on any given day but the majority aren't, but if I see something there for a number of days at a time, my focus draws to it more and more until I get it done.

    Beyond that - it then comes back to the weekly review process, and the check-in on how each project is going, particularly the long term projects. This very much helps with gauging priority around NAs.

    Hope that is helpful!

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    • #3
      Ok here's my method using a real project example.
      Project - build a pump station and transfer pipeline, to be constructed by 2014.
      Next determine project phases and approximate months when they are due by - milestones. Usually do this in consultation with various stakeholders in the business.
      For the current active phase, work out closer shorter deadlines in consultation with my boss. Eg by end of Feb have the stakeholder engagement plan drafted.
      Then by myself in my project plan I will brainstorm all the actions that I think I need to do to get the stakeholder engagement plan done by end of Feb. From this I see that some actions are dependent on others, so there is a bit of a sequence. I work out a rough timeline that I think will deliver this objective on time. I use this to assign dates to next actions. Only NA that are on this timeline, this 'critical path' need due dates, some might be able to be done at any time, or maybe just before end of Feb.

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      • #4
        Daily Review + 3 MITs for each day.

        My solution:

        A Daily Review (at the end of the previous day) to determine 3 MITs (Most Important Tasks) for the next day.

        David Allen has nothing against this extension of the GTD methodology (There's nothing wrong with daily MIT list!).

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        • #5
          For some tasks that just need to be done but that I know I will postpone starting until the future I put them into my tickler so they don't clutter my Next Actions list.

          For those with a specific due date that I want to work on relatively soon, I use software (MLO) that lets me put a due date on tasks. So when I go thru my Next Action list by context I can also see which ones are coming due relatively soon. Even on a paper list you could do this, put a due date along with the task description.

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          • #6
            I don't have too much time for doing through the day because my schedule is full with meetings. I scheduled 1 hour for Doing daily and that allows me to push my projects ahead daily. Unfortunately my Processing time is limited too so I have a lot of 2-3-4-5 minutes actions on my Action Lists. I assume MIT does work with bigger tasks like 15 and more minutes thus adding a feeling of accomplishment or am I wrong?

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            • #7
              I try to avoid setting dates against things, other than milestones in a big project, because it's rather depressing to see those deadlines keep flashing past undone.

              During my weekly review though, I do flag the 10-20 actions that I want to be priority for the week, and that often tends to be one or two actions from each priority project. It means those actions jump to the top of each context and are more likely to get done. Those are reassessed each week when I review, so it keeps all projects moving along.

              If I notice that particular projects are starting to run behind, I'll also 'pause' other low priority projects - more temporary than moving to someday maybe - and reassess those at the weekly review.

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              • #8
                I too use a form of daily MIT list on the days when I anticipate having enough time to warrant spending the time making one.

                I also have (for the slightly longer time fram) a mindmap similar to the one DA recommended in a Webinar somewhere (I think it was the one on procrastination) which I update every weekly review. I have this as my desktop wallpaper on the computer and it contains things that I need to focus on moving forward during the week, i.e. kind of like a checklist for the 10-20k horizon.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                  My solution:

                  A Daily Review (at the end of the previous day) to determine 3 MITs (Most Important Tasks) for the next day.

                  David Allen has nothing against this extension of the GTD methodology (There's nothing wrong with daily MIT list!).
                  I wasn't able to follow that link. I get an error message, "This page is only available to GTD Connect members.." I don't know whether that's true or not. Previously when I got that message it was in effect telling me I couldn't post to this forum even after logging in and was not true but based on a glitch in the system.

                  I sometimes do a daily review like that at the end of the day. I call it "next steps" and I might list about 3 to 5 steps, or sometimes do a more complex review process. The end of the day is a great time for that even if one is more tired then, because one's mind is all full of ideas related to work.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    A copy for you.

                    Originally posted by cwoodgold View Post
                    I wasn't able to follow that link.
                    Here's a copy for you:

                    Originally posted by TesTeq
                    I've finally listened to "In Conversation with Louis Kim" and found it very insightful.

                    But there's something more. David shares his tactical advice and says that:

                    There's nothing wrong with daily Most Important Tasks list!

                    He sees it as yet another filter for all @context Next Action lists - a filter that allows people to focus on most important Projects. Some GTDers use 3x5 cards to create daily lists containing 1-3 MITs. They look at all their lists a night before or in the morning and ask a question:

                    "If I have any time today what is the one thing (or 2 or 3 things) out of all of these that I want to get done?"

                    In the same manner David himself creates the "Before Trip" list to make sure that the critical stuff is done before he leaves.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I tackle it a bit differently

                      Trusting my mind to make the best decision in the moment, but I need to prompt it with those deadlines so it's not trying to remember them all.

                      I simply name my projects with the deadline first. So my next few are:

                      04/08 Easter
                      04/12 Beth Moore Conference
                      04/20 MPE Conference

                      and so on.

                      The software I use brings the project names into my NA list; if it didn't I'd likely prefix my NA tasks with the deadlines, too.

                      This way, when I'm scanning my @Computer context, I can easily see which items are coming due soon.

                      The Weekly Review catches me up on the really long-range projects -- usually I've managed to tick one or two NAs off. If not, I'm prompted to take a closer look at the project.

                      HTH
                      KC

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                      • #12
                        Tickle me to death!

                        KC, I like the deadline idea, thank you.

                        During my weekly review, I look at my calendar, and put the projects in my tickler file. I feel so serene when I go into work, put out the folders/actions/projects for that particular day, knowing that someone in their infinite wisdom picked this particular day to get this particular action or project done.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Almost Done View Post
                          KC, I like the deadline idea, thank you.

                          During my weekly review, I look at my calendar, and put the projects in my tickler file. I feel so serene when I go into work, put out the folders/actions/projects for that particular day, knowing that someone in their infinite wisdom picked this particular day to get this particular action or project done.
                          Hi again, "Almost"! And innovyse.

                          I use a mish-mash of systems, but I apply David Allen's rule for calendars to my tickle file: I don't put in anything that I just don't have time for right now. I try to use the principle: if something has a deadline, just do it pretty soon: don't wait until near the deadline. I don't have anything near infinite wisdom. I like pulling things out of the tickle file that have an actual reason to have been delayed; it's like getting emails from myself. But I'm pretty sure I would find it dreary to pull things out of the tickle file that I just didn't have time to do the day I put them in. If I didn't want to do them then, what would have made me think I would want to do them now?

                          For some things with deadlines, I put two or three reminders in the tickle file that the deadline is approaching, so that just in case I haven't done the thing yet I get reminded that it's getting pretty urgent to do it.

                          I've divided my lists of actions into "things to do before the trip" and "things to do after the trip". It's amazing the amount of clarity I have on that. Maybe I should schedule some extra trips, or pretend to myself I'm going on a trip, to get that clarity. However, I found that after getting back, the "things to do after the trip" list was kindof boring to address. If I didn't think it was all that important to get done before the trip, maybe I still didn't find it all that motivating.

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