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Does a daily to-do list reduce the efficiency of GTD

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  • Does a daily to-do list reduce the efficiency of GTD

    Hi everyone,

    I'm aware some of you are comfortable customising the GTD system to suit your needs. I also realise that David is against the use of daily lists of tasks/to-do items, and I see from reading some post some users actively use daily lists.

    My questions is, does using a daily to-do list reduce the efficiency of the GTD system, since the material implies that one should refer to a particular context of your (unprioritised) NA list during discretionary time.

    I find that I'm more productive when I have in front of me on paper (a simple notepad works best) a small bunch of tasks to carry out one of the after. If I were to constantly refer back to my huge NA list, even if I refer to just one context, such as At Office, wouldn't I tend to get overwhelmed by the large number of actions in front of me, which I would need to face after completing every action?

    Having said that, I haven't tried implementing the GTD system yet to see for myself, but I can't see how this can be more productive to having a to-do list of tasks/action which can be carried out immediately without continuous planning.

    Perhaps I've missed something?

    Thanks in advance for anyone who can clear this up for me. I'd also really appreciate if Jason could give me a response on this.

    Cheers,

    John

  • #2
    Daily Planning

    I think everyone has a daily todo list. To play it by ear and according to the context you're in is not very efficient.

    There are projects, meetings, etc. that must be done today and they can only reside in one other place than ones todo list or calendar - your head! This is the one place where "write it down" doesnt seem to apply in the GTD methodology.

    Why is that?

    Comment


    • #3
      doing your work as it shows up

      Originally posted by DM
      Why is that?
      Maybe because there is still that "doing your work as it shows up"-thing.

      Rainer

      Comment


      • #4
        Many seems to think they are doing better with a daily to do list. I may also think that you get more focused when you have a goal for what to do one day. If you have all on context list you do not have a "goal" for that day. - And this is very intresting what is best. A daily to do list or not. (I think daily to do list).

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Does a daily to-do list reduce the efficiency of GTD

          Originally posted by John Silver
          My questions is, does using a daily to-do list reduce the efficiency of the GTD system, .....
          John,

          having tried both (working with and without a daily task list) my experience is that the daily task list reduces my efficiency, but enhances my effectiveness and sense of accountability and responsibility. Without a daily list I can get done much more, though I might not know what I'm doing or if the decision of my boss was very smart.

          Although I still use my daily task list in order to prevent me from overwhelm , I more and more tend to write down appointments with myself in my calendar and reduce the use of the daily task list.

          Rainer
          Last edited by Rainer Burmeister; 12-09-2005, 10:54 AM.

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          • #6
            Use the daily to do

            I find that if I do not have a daily todo I tend to think, well it's on the list it will show up. Eventually. With the to do, I have a way to move forward. Without it, I find, that stuff just sits on my list. Sometimes, I just have one category on my todo list, such as phones. Just sitting down and planning on working through some stuff, cleans it up and clears it out of my mind. and with the pda I just go through a review and move my choices from phone and computer and whatever to today and then those for sure get done and depending on timing I can tackle a few others on the category lists while I'm at it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Feeling in Control

              Originally posted by BJ
              If you have all on context list you do not have a "goal" for that day.
              BJ,

              it seems like we all need at least a minimum of that "I feel in control of my life" -feeling at work. And focusing on a daily goal (of which you know you can achieve it) is one of many ways to get that "feeling in control"-feeling.

              Rainer

              Comment


              • #8
                Here's an idea...

                Take a post-it note and write "Focus Board" at the top of it, followed by 3-5 things (projects/goals/areas?) you want to focus on for today. Then stick this in front of you somwhere.

                That way, you're not tied down with a strict list of tasks to do, but you still have a clear outline of what you should be focusing on during the day.

                That would blend quite well into the GTD system, wouldn't it?

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't keep a daily to-do list anymore, but it took me a long time to give it up and every once in awhile I still feel a need to do one.

                  The whole point behind GTD, I think, is to not have to rethink things. When you get done with the daily review, you should have a things that stand out that you either want to focus on or get done that day. In order to not have to rethink those ideas, it sometimes helps to jot them down. Once you've completed those items or if you have an odd bit of time that those items don't fit into, you can go back to your NA list and figure out what you want to be doing given your context.

                  The problem I was having with keeping a daily to-do list is that it was leading me to not trust my system. I would come in in the morning and dump things out of my head onto a to-do list and not put them in my system and do a daily review - then things started falling through the cracks. Stopping a daily to-do list forced me into doing a daily review and trusting my system more.


                  In short, my opinion is that it is ok and long as you don't start substituting it for a daily review because then you start doing work as it shows up.

                  I think Jason did do a post on this topic a couple of weeks ago. I'll see if I can find it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I found Jason Womack's recent posting on this topic - the URL is http://www.davidco.com/forum/viewtop...amp;highlight=

                    It was on 5/6 and under the thread called "I can't stop planning my day"

                    I've pasted it below, but you may want to look at it in context of the conversation. In point 1, I think he is bascially saying he routinely does a daily to do list.

                    ********************************

                    Here's how I think about it:

                    On a day-to-day basis, here is an example of someone's routine:

                    1) As soon as you're not doing anything else: check your calendar (What HAS to be done today?) Here, I will put down things from my action lists that I really "plan" to do today.


                    2) As soon as you have discretionary time (given your calendar):
                    - process IN, or
                    - check @action lists and pick one to work on, or
                    - work ad hoc (do something that is NOT on a list)
                    My goal here is to make sure the system is up-to-date every 24-48 hours.


                    3) At least once a week...do a weekly review! Make sure you can work within numbers 1) and 2) and be comfortable. Every 7 days, I want to get back to "clean, clear, current, and complete." This means looking at the last 4 weeks, the next 4 weeks, scanning any checklists ("How am I doing with client communications?" etc), reviewing projects/next actions lists, etc.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Weekly focus NA list

                      What works for me a weekly focus NA list. Typically, my NAís do not have due dates associated with them. For NAís that need to be done on a particular day, I add a due date for that day. For other NAís that I want to get done that week, but no particular day, I set a due date of that Sunday. I then filter my NA list to show only tasks with a due date within the next 7 days. This becomes my weekly to-do list. If Iíve completed the NAís I must do that day, I can move on to the ones I wanted to complete for the week, and then to my complete NA list.

                      I use Outlook, so Iíve set up my filtered one-week task list to show up next to my daily calendar.

                      One nice thing about this is that is I can set due dates for NAís that are due further into the future, and they will automatically pop-up on my weekly filtered view. An electronic tickler file.

                      Now itís Friday afternoon, so on to my weekly review,

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bellaisa
                        In short, my opinion is that it is ok and long as you don't start substituting it for a daily review because then you start doing work as it shows up.
                        Bellaisa,

                        I fully agree with your statement (that one I quoted above). My daily task list must be the result of my daily review. If not, I would start doing only the work as it shows up and forget about the remaining 70 % of my job.

                        Rainer

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Todo Daily

                          DA talks alot about people overwhelmed with things that demand attention and thus the best approach is to have a flexible agenda that one can act on based on the days events - a kind of Akido, if you will.

                          I think he wants to emphasize a philosophy of dealing with these demands rather than trying to be Nostradamus each morning and having it all blow up in your face. In between those two extremes is the approach of setting a few items up on the list that you really should try to knock down each day (if the bottom doesnt drop out). I favor the middle road.

                          Some people are going to be much better at managing their days without daily todo lists than others - my wife manages a large enterprise swimmingly without any lists.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hello all. I just finished the latest Barnes & Noble GTD course, where the subject of the daily to do list came up. Below are two questions posted followed by Jason's response. I hope you find it helpful (I don't think he'll mind that I re-posted it here).


                            * Does that mean it's bad GTD habit to make / update at least once a day a" daily task list"?

                            no

                            * Do I take a risk doing the below process?

                            no


                            Over a year ago, I started a morning ritual that I've practiced to (almost) perfection.

                            I call it the "Morning Review," and now I'm teaching it in my GTD seminars.

                            It takes me no more than 5 minutes, and it sets the tone and tempo for the day. Here it is, how I do it, step by step:

                            - Check my calendar: What information and actions have I already put on the calendar? Lots of meetings? Teleconferences? Am I traveling through multiple airports?

                            - Review my action lists: I've found this is most valuable the days I'm delivering seminars or coaching. I go down each list, and decide "on-the-spot" if the item can wait until after my day of work. If it can not, I have two options. Do it now, or put it on the calendar for lunch. Every now and then, I need to spend 10 or 15 minutes of the lunch break handling a phone call, or running an errand.

                            - Scan my projects list: I just look down the project list asking myself if there's an action I might want to take while I'm "here." (And, "here," is relative - am I in my office, Washington DC, or flying across the country?) Every now and then, I pull something off that list because of where I am, or what I'll be doing that day.

                            On seminar delivery or travel days (and I had a combined 150 of those last year) my goal is, within 5 minutes, to let myself off the hook for the next 8 or so hours. I want to deliver a seminar and trust that everything can wait, I've seen it recently, and I have an inventory of work to do when I'm done.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sometimes someone needs to whack me over the head with a stick before I get it. Just in case there are others like me, let me excerpt from the quotation above from Jason Womack:

                              Here's how I think about it:

                              On a day-to-day basis, here is an example of someone's routine:

                              1) As soon as you're not doing anything else: check your calendar (What HAS to be done today?) Here, I will put down things from my action lists that I really "plan" to do today.

                              . . .
                              He tells us that he puts on his calendar a list of things that he plans to do today. One might wish to call that a to-do list.

                              Comment

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