Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.
Struggling with "MUST do" daily task list... Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Struggling with "MUST do" daily task list...

    Problem: My natural instinct is to put the tasks I *desire* to get done today (vs. strictly "MUST do" tasks -- for which the line often feels blurry) as due today, so they'll show up on my Outlook Today task list.

    If I have to go sorting through all my active projects' tasks after completing any given task to remember what I want to work on next, that's more stressful than dropping a handful of tasks on my list in the morning before I start working (as part of my Daily Review).

    BUT, if I'm wrong about how much work I can get done daily (as I often am!!), overdue tasks start spilling over from one day to the next. And they get stacked on top of the *other* tasks I feel like I should be doing on those days.

    Pretty soon my task list just feels hopeless to do in a day, so some tasks get orphaned (neglected) for days or weeks while I struggle to stay on top of more urgent tasks on the list.

    What do you guys suggest?


    Thanks for any help!

    Ahimsa

  • #2
    It's always good to pre-plan the next day. Your day should have time built for processing. Then you could have meetings that were agreed before. The rest of the time you can use for doing. What to do you can choose the day before or choose in the moment. Usually the last moment choice leads to doing some silly small tasks or pleasant tasks.

    Don't worry about other tasks before you do these. The life has lots of stuff to do, you should prioritize what to do first the day before

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by ahimsa View Post
      Problem: My natural instinct is to put the tasks I *desire* to get done today (vs. strictly "MUST do" tasks -- for which the line often feels blurry) as due today, so they'll show up on my Outlook Today task list.
      ...
      What do you guys suggest?
      Drop the due today entirely, it's not really all that helpful in my experience. Instead work on better contexts and maybe if things are piling up put more projects on someday/maybe.

      Comment


      • #4
        There's an extension of GTD called ZTD (Zen-To-Done). One practice of ZTD is to make a MIT (Most Important Tasks) list from your action lists at the beginning of the day. This list helps some people keep focus on priorities that they set at the start of the day.

        However, priorities can radically change at a moment's notice. Rarely does a battle plan survive first encounter with the enemy. That's why I don't do this myself.

        Comment


        • #5
          These are good insights, guys.

          Clarity I just got:
          "MUST do" tasks aren't just ones I'll pay a price for tomorrow if I don't do them today.

          Where this matters:
          Let's say I have a key project milestone a week from today. If I don't diligently work through important tasks today, I'll have a hard time doing the undone ones + all the others to meet the milestone.

          David Allen touched on this here:
          http://www.gtdtimes.com/2010/09/15/d...ith-due-dates/

          Still though, I'm iffy on it. I guess what tasks I feel I "must do" today, tomorrow and every day for the next week to meet the milestone comes down to gut feel trained from experience? Anything more concrete strategies you guys can add?

          Thanks again for sharing your wisdom with me.

          Comment


          • #6
            > Problem: My natural instinct is to put the tasks I *desire* to
            > get done today (vs. strictly "MUST do" tasks -- for which the
            > line often feels blurry) as due today, so they'll show up on my
            > Outlook Today task list.

            I wouldn't use due dates for this purpose - it blurs the significance of due dates, and is likely to hide things that are truly due.

            Instead, I use start dates, and I blur *their* significance. This isn't ideal, but I consider start dates to be less important than due dates, so it's an acceptable compromise for me.

            The proper meaning of a start date should be that the task truly cannot be started, or at least should not be started, before a given date. I blur that by making the start date the date that I might start working the task, plus or minus a few days. This means that almost all of my tasks have a future start date, and only the few tasks that I should or will work on, say, this week, have a past start date or no start date.

            OmniFocus allows me to create a view that will show only these tasks in the list of tasks to select from, and Outlook can be bullied into doing sometihng similar, if I give a start date to every task that I ever want to show up in the search. (OmniFocus sensibly assumes that if there is no start date, the task is ready to start right now, while Outlook seems to assume that if there is no start date, then you don't want to see the task at all in a search that searches on start dates.)

            With this scheme, tasks naturally bob to the surface at roughly the time that I want to see them. In the unlikely event that I run out of work for my current context, I can change my view and look ahead to tasks that have a future start date. In the more likely event that other tasks crowded some of this week's tasks out and they're likely to be crowded out of next week, too, I set a bunch of new start dates during my weekly review. I can also do this between reviews if I've picked up so many tasks since the last review that my list needs thinning again.

            So setting start dates is a normal part of my weekly review - after most of the rest of the review, I show the view of all available tasks, and I trim it down by putting future start dates on lots of tasks, until I'm down to a tolerable number of tasks.

            Gardener

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ahimsa View Post
              I guess what tasks I feel I "must do" today, tomorrow and every day for the next week to meet the milestone comes down to gut feel trained from experience? Anything more concrete strategies you guys can add?

              Thanks again for sharing your wisdom with me.
              Point 1. If you have a Key Project you need to finish by the end of the week and you know how to do it then split the project into daily tasks and put this time into your calendar to make it priority. Protect this time! Point 2. If you have a Key Project you need to finish by the end of the week and you don't know how to do it then consult your boss (if you are the business owner then brainstorm yourself ) and go to Point 1. If you have other projects then split them into next actions and use spare time between Key Projects time to move them on.

              Makes sence?

              Comment


              • #8
                I have been like that before, I always my list of things to do but I only accomplish some and most of them gets in the list for tomorrow. Now I learned how to plan more accurately.

                Comment


                • #9
                  @Gardener: Very interesting system! Thank you so much for sharing it in detail.

                  I just tried setting a Start Date on an Outlook 2003 task, but it requires have a Due Date too. Setting the Due Date to "None" wipes out the Start Date too.

                  @Solyanov2011: Agreed about protecting time for key projects. How to do that is what has people split. Some say to use the calendar, as you suggested, and others somehow manage to sort their Next Actions to keep the key priorities top of mind.

                  Calendar does make sense to me, and I've done it in the past, but then I stumbled on the same issue I'm having with task lists: overscheduling.

                  Overscheduling happens because:
                  * I rarely know how long something is going to take (unlike a conference call, for example). Most things take longer than I guess.

                  * I get too ambitious (and too fearful that tasks not on the calendar won't get done)

                  @olivialowrie: Yeah, I'm realizing so much of this is about experience. The more we plan and fail to meet the plans, the better we learn to adjust. Thank you for sharing how you've improved at this.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I am reading a book called "Willpower", recommended by someone on this forum. They talk about priorities, and about one person who's highly successful, and their technique is to list all the important things in order of priority, and focus ONLY on the top three first. Ignore all else until those are done. I'm thinking I could review my lists each morning/evening, and choose a maximum of three actions a day to focus on, any more and you're setting your expectations too high. If you get these done you can repeat the process, or go to your action lists sorted by context.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ahimsa View Post
                      Problem: My natural instinct is to put the tasks I *desire* to get done today (vs. strictly "MUST do" tasks -- for which the line often feels blurry) as due today, so they'll show up on my Outlook Today task list.
                      Outlook is certainly a problem for a lot of people. You may want to try using a tool that inflicts less pain on you.

                      Originally posted by ahimsa View Post
                      If I have to go sorting through all my active projects' tasks after completing any given task to remember what I want to work on next
                      There's no good reason for this, although it does seem to be a popular misconception around GTD.

                      You don't need to look at your entire Next Actions list every time if you don't want to. You can stop as soon as you find a Next Action that you feel like working on.

                      I've often found it useful to sort the list occasionally so that I see certain things before certain other things. There's nothing anti-GTD about that.



                      Cheers,
                      Roger

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ahimsa View Post
                        I just tried setting a Start Date on an Outlook 2003 task, but it requires have a Due Date too. Setting the Due Date to "None" wipes out the Start Date too.
                        Ah, yes, I forgot that - another reason why I prefer OmniFocus. One possibility is to give all of those tasks a Due Date in the distant future, like five years from now. So they have a due date, but it doesn't blur your real due dates, because it never comes up.

                        Or, yes, you could use a tool other than Outlook - I find Outlook incredibly clunky. OmniFocus isn't an option if you're not on a Mac, but there are probably some good tools on the PC.

                        Gardener

                        Comment

                        Working...
                        X