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Due dates vs calendar / regular appointments

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  • Due dates vs calendar / regular appointments

    Hi. Just starting out on using GTD properly (and using Things for Mac and iPhone to help with that).

    Couple of things where I'm not quite clear on the best way to handle them:

    Due dates vs calendar entries. Things offers due dates, but the GTD book doesn't seem to mention due dates at all, and suggests a calendar for completing tasks by essential deadlines. My issue with that (for home, not work) is that the calendar then becomes quite restricted - a lot of what I want to get done at home has no essential deadline, but I need some way of committing myself to making progress. Due dates feel like they could help with that, but not sure.

    Which is sort of related to another question - how best can I manage regular, non-essential commitments? Best example would be something like exercising - putting it in a calendar might help me commit to that, but it isn't absolutely essential I exercise at the given time - and I remember DA's point about the calendar being sacred territory for essential things. Either way, I'm by nature not great at getting stuff done, so I'd really like to use GTD to get a few things in order.

    Any advice much appreciated!

  • #2
    Originally posted by jduk View Post
    Hi. Just starting out on using GTD properly (and using Things for Mac and iPhone to help with that).

    Couple of things where I'm not quite clear on the best way to handle them:

    Due dates vs calendar entries. Things offers due dates, but the GTD book doesn't seem to mention due dates at all, and suggests a calendar for completing tasks by essential deadlines. My issue with that (for home, not work) is that the calendar then becomes quite restricted - a lot of what I want to get done at home has no essential deadline, but I need some way of committing myself to making progress. Due dates feel like they could help with that, but not sure.

    Which is sort of related to another question - how best can I manage regular, non-essential commitments? Best example would be something like exercising - putting it in a calendar might help me commit to that, but it isn't absolutely essential I exercise at the given time - and I remember DA's point about the calendar being sacred territory for essential things. Either way, I'm by nature not great at getting stuff done, so I'd really like to use GTD to get a few things in order.

    Any advice much appreciated!
    If you really using Things every day to manage actions and projects, then you can put due dates in Things. It offers a sophisticated reminder system, which allows you to move items to a Today list ahead of a due date. Nevertheless, you should check upcoming due next actions and projects in your weekly review. If you find you prefer to use the calendar instead or in addition for due dates, go ahead. But whatever you use, you have to use consistently or you won't trust it. I put events on my calendar, but projects in preparation for events go on the projects list with the event due date.

    You can also schedule an action to repeat a chosen interval after completion, which is handy for many things.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
      If you really using Things every day to manage actions and projects, then you can put due dates in Things. It offers a sophisticated reminder system, which allows you to move items to a Today list ahead of a due date. Nevertheless, you should check upcoming due next actions and projects in your weekly review. If you find you prefer to use the calendar instead or in addition for due dates, go ahead. But whatever you use, you have to use consistently or you won't trust it. I put events on my calendar, but projects in preparation for events go on the projects list with the event due date.

      You can also schedule an action to repeat a chosen interval after completion, which is handy for many things.
      Thanks. The consistency was what I wanted to make sure was realistic before I started. Think it'll work to use the calendar for 100% essential things that need to happen at that time (still plenty of examples of those) and due dates to help keep myself on track - as long as I don't treat the due dates as a mere suggestion of when it should be completed by.

      The other thing I occasionally do now is a mini-review (not started the weekly ones yet), during which I'll pick 8-10 actions from my Next list and schedule them to move to Today on a given date. That's in addition to using 'Scheduled' as a time-specific tickler. Does that seem like a sensible idea?

      Thanks again.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by jduk View Post

        The other thing I occasionally do now is a mini-review (not started the weekly ones yet), during which I'll pick 8-10 actions from my Next list and schedule them to move to Today on a given date. That's in addition to using 'Scheduled' as a time-specific tickler. Does that seem like a sensible idea?

        Thanks again.
        I think it could work. I have a few important projects, involving technical writing, I want to to move forward every day. Typically I will work for 30-60 minutes on one, come to a good stopping point, write the next action, and schedule it for tomorrow. That works very well for me. I will also move tasks to Scheduled if I know I can't do them for a while, e.g., calling to schedule a doctor's app. can't be done on a weekend. The danger with having 8-10 items show up in your today list is that you will be overwhelmed. It's more than I would like to have in Today. However, if you remember to give yourself the freedom to move them elsewhere (reschedule or to Next), then you will probably be fine. Of course, you also have to watch out for the indefinitely procrastinated next action, where it may be better to either rephrase the next action so you will do it, move it to someday/maybe or delete it.

        Comment


        • #5
          I believe David Allen contradicted himself (in my opinion) by talking in his books
          about the idea of setting an appointment with yourself. You can mark exercise
          periods on the calendar at specific times and stick to them just as if you'd signed
          up for an exercise class, except that you're doing it alone. In theory, at least.

          Here are some other ideas (not necessarily GTD), using exercise as an example:

          -- Give yourself rewards for getting actions done.

          -- Set an appointment in your calendar, then try to get the exercise done at
          a convenient time earlier than that; but if not, you do it at the appointed time.

          -- Try to get the exercise done at convenient times each week,
          warning yourself that if you miss your target then you'll have to
          start scheduling it on your calendar.

          -- Find things you already do habitually and enjoy, and do the exercise
          just before doing those things: for example, exercise before a meal or
          before reading a book.

          -- Write it near the top of your next-actions list or put an asterisk next to it, and
          try to do it when you look at your next-actions list rather than doing other things
          on the list: paying attention to long-term priority rather than just how you
          feel at the moment.

          -- Monitor your progress, and tell other people. You could colour in squares
          on a chart, and tell family members you'll have a celebratory dinner with them
          when you fill it all in, for example.

          -- Put encouraging affirmations where you'll see them: posted on the
          wall, or in your system somewhere to be read once a day or on some
          other schedule, such as "I want to exercise because ..."

          -- Read the book "Willpower" by Baumeister and Tierney. (The first half
          I found very interesting but perhaps discouraging; the second half is
          more encouraging. The book is more scientific than designed to
          encourage the reader directly.) This book says that willpower is like
          a muscle: although it gets tired with use, when used regularly it
          builds up strength over time.

          -- Read "Eat that Frog!" by Brian Tracy: a good pep talk.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks both for your advice! Think I'm set up now to give GTD a proper go (and some of those good habit tips are useful).

            Comment


            • #7
              Clean Calendar, tasks done

              Originally posted by jduk View Post
              My issue with that (for home, not work) is that the calendar then becomes quite restricted - a lot of what I want to get done at home has no essential deadline, but I need some way of committing myself to making progress. Due dates feel like they could help with that, but not sure.
              I have struggled with this too. I used to make up due dates for non-essential projects and have them on my calendar. The problem was that the calendar became very cluttered and unmanageable. Instead, I define "work on available tasks" time on my calendar. I have a lot of scheduled tasks throughout the day, so finding time to do non-essential tasks has become very important. I usually plan this time the day before, when I map out my next working day. Then, I have my list of available tasks to work from when the time comes.

              Originally posted by jduk View Post
              Which is sort of related to another question - how best can I manage regular, non-essential commitments? Best example would be something like exercising.
              Unless you are exercising at home, you still need to go to the gym to exercise. Block time to go there on your calendar - it helps. My issue always was that I did not have enough time to drive to the gym, get my workout in, and drive back between appointments. I set a reminder that I need to wrap up my task and start getting ready for gym. And I also have it on my schedule because it is important to me.

              One trick that I use is find something I look forward to when going to the gym - listening to a new podcast or a new song compilation, reading the next chapter of the book, etc. I am hyping up myself about this new thing and it becomes fun to go.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by lyena View Post
                I have struggled with this too. I used to make up due dates for non-essential projects and have them on my calendar. The problem was that the calendar became very cluttered and unmanageable. Instead, I define "work on available tasks" time on my calendar. I have a lot of scheduled tasks throughout the day, so finding time to do non-essential tasks has become very important. I usually plan this time the day before, when I map out my next working day. Then, I have my list of available tasks to work from when the time comes.
                That's a great suggestion - thanks. About to start applying GTD at work (urgently needed...) and really hope that the calendar entries will 100% commit me to doing what I've booked time out for - including just working through next actions if I set aside time for that.

                As for the gym - it's more laziness than time on my part, but have set a recurring reminder that creates a new reminder 2 days after the last one is completed... we'll see how that works.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by lyena View Post
                  Unless you are exercising at home, you still need to go to the gym to exercise.
                  Not true: e.g. a walk, jog or bike ride starting from home, either for its own sake or in order to get somewhere.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Exercise at home!

                    Originally posted by lyena View Post
                    Unless you are exercising at home, you still need to go to the gym to exercise.
                    I find the "I need to go to the gym to exercise." the most common excuse to not exercise.

                    Exercise at home. Period.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Another practice that helps: review your lists obsessively!

                      I'm only half-kidding about the "obsessively" part! Due dates can be a slippery slope... I look at my context lists several times throughout the day (just because I read through it this morning, if I've now got 10-15 minutes, I look through it again - I really try not to rely on my memory anymore!).

                      I still put due dates on some actions, and even put reminders in my calendar; whatever I need to do to get a particular project or deliverable off my mind. But I rely more on consistent interaction with my system than anything else.

                      If you hired an assistant and just spoke to them once a week and asked them to remind you of things, then you wouldn't have a very rich relationship with that person. But if you're checking in with them throughout every day, you can shuffle, re-negotiate, and strategize in the moment...

                      Comment

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