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Is a !Today list dangerous?

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  • Is a !Today list dangerous?

    Hi all,

    I saw a tip somewhere once (sorry, I forget the source) that says you should include a category "!Today" in your to-dos, that you would review every morning and include things you intended to get done that day.

    I tried this for a little while, but I found that I would place only a few items in this category in order to feel 'safe', and that when I was done with the items in here, I felt completely happy and "finished" -- never mind the many other items lurking in other categories!

    I'm just wondering if you all think this method is "dangerous" in the sense that it leads you to (a) procrastinate by making your !Today list intentionally small, and (b) leads you to a false sense of security by thinking that you are "done" when you clear the !Today list.

    Any thoughts??
    -John

  • #2
    I suppose it's possible to fall into a trap like that, but if one does it's just because they're playing mind games with themselves. The purpose of maintaining ANY list is for organization and execution, and failing to look at other relevant lists just because one list is getting done defeats the purpose of maintaining them to begin with.

    One relvant idea I use from the FAST CD, (although it related to a slightly different example), is that I expect my system to enable me to look at the WHOLE GAME and make a good choice on my next action every time.

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    • #3
      One relvant idea I use from the FAST CD, (although it related to a slightly different example), is that I expect my system to enable me to look at the WHOLE GAME and make a good choice on my next action every time.
      I completely agree. I think using a !Today list puts artificial blinders on your scope of things to do, although I can see how it might be helpful to some.

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      • #4
        Tried it. Dumped it.

        It didn't work for me. It took things out of "context" and I tended to miss NA's I should/could have gotten done at a particular point/place in time. If I construct my lists and tasks properly, I find myself much better able to apply all Four Criteria to my decision making (context, available time, energy, priority).

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        • #5
          <<I completely agree. I think using a !Today list puts artificial blinders on your scope of things to do, although I can see how it might be helpful to some>>

          Hi,

          I have found through my own experiences that when I don't designate a day for important tasks like paying bills to get done, it falls through the cracks. Because of my executive function deficiencies and thus becoming overwhelmed at seeing the entire list of tasks, I can't automatically depend on the criteria that DA suggests regarding how to choose various tasks.

          However, I agree that a today list can be deceptive regarding what it is on a person's plate. I know that when I have completed the tasks for "today", I have a letdown and find it hard to shift my attention to other tasks that could be done. But for me, that problem is easier to correct vs. having to look at a long list of tasks and hope I pick the ones that are mandatory.

          PT

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          • #6
            I think that this is a tough issue and one that I haven't found the answer to yet. Would appreciate suggestions from the David Allen folks. I agree that the Covey-type system of prioritizing doesn't work well, at least in my life. But I'm also finding that my to-do (next-action) list is so long that it's just not practical to review the whole list every time I change tasks, in order to decide what to do next. I've been reviewing my to-do list a couple of times a week (as needed) and coming up with a "short list" of 5-10 things that I need to do next. That's what I really work off of. I also sometimes put things on my calendar for a certain date that I really really want to get done that day, even though that violates one of DA's rules. I am not satisfied with this "system" but haven't yet come up with anything better.

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            • #7
              You may want to look at the following threads that discuss doing a daily to do list

              http://www.davidco.com/forum/viewtop...ighlight=daily

              and

              http://www.davidco.com/forum/viewtop...amp;highlight=

              For myself, if I'm in a state where my NA list is huge, during my morning review, I jot down on scratch paper what I really need to focus on for day ....this is especially important if I don't have much time between meetings. I keeps me from having to rethink my priorities so I stay focused. Some days I need this, some days I don't. The key, I think, is to not let the scratch paper list become a substitute for the daily review.

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              • #8
                I use a special context / category named - "Focus".

                I assign this category to NA's that are part of the projects I want to be reminded of, daily (I sometimes use it for the project itself, not for the next action).

                (I can't remember where I got the idea from - probably this forum).

                This way I don't infrige the integrity of the NA list, and I don't suffer from the disadvantages of daily to do (or next actions) list, e.g. - I don't have to move items from day to day, and I always have the complete list of the next actions (my next actions can have more than one category / context).

                I began using the focus category about 3 weeks ago. At the begining I called it "important" but I noticed it makes me more nervous, than focused.

                I'm quite pleased from my short experience with that category, and it gives me the confidence I lacked using long NA's list.

                hth

                DallasLawyer - I am too a lawyer. Your "short list" is essentially, my "focus" list. If you give the "focus list" a try, I'd be glad to hear about your experiecne.

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                • #9
                  My method of daily focusing

                  Here is what I do. After I have gone through my weekly review, I prepare a list of goals/results/outcomes that either I would like to do for the week, or must be done for the week. The latter items I mark with due dates and prioritize in Outlook 2003 accordingly. Based on my weekly outcomes/plan, I spend time first thing in the morning and plan my day. I add next actions or outcomes to a list I call "!Focus-Today". This is amazingly like what ez is doing. The next actions/outcomes/goals have at least two categories -- the original context category (!Outcomes-week) for the weekly outcomes, or the standard GTD context for next actions -- @computer, @office, @home, @errands, etc. -- and then the !Focus-Today category. I treat this only as an area to remind myself of my focus and preplanned work. As we all know, this is the hardest type of work to do as we are all bombarded by work that shows up -- hundreds of emails, documents, requests from bosses, etc. I don't use this as a hard-fast daily to-do list; rather, it is a reminder of what I wish to focus on for the day. I fully realize that I may have to change directions dramatically, depending on the priority of things that show up. But, this gives me a platform to judge this new work -- is it really higher priority that what I had planned? My experience with very long next action lists only that it is hard, at least for me, to stay focused on a track after completing a next action and try to stay focused on my preplanned work. If one is too flexible, one can be taken advantage of because of this and one finds him/herself constantly responding to other people's concerns. A lot of this is indeed important; but I personally need the reminders on a daily and weekly focus/plan of what I need/want to accomplish.

                  I alos am experimenting with the pigpog method for next actions on projects. I think this works really well and keeps one moving. However, I still maintain a list of projects so I can visually see them all at once on the computer or on paper.

                  I am not a lawyer, ez, but I am a professor a major university.

                  Regards,
                  Longstreet

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    longstreet,


                    a list I call "!Focus-Today" ..... I don't use this as a hard-fast daily to-do list; rather, it is a reminder of what I wish to focus on ....

                    My thoughts exactly, only you put it so eloquently.

                    btw - I knew mentioning my profession will get me into trouble here (a foreign lawyer, as one can infer from my lame writing).

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                    • #11
                      I make daily to-do lists often. I consider it a plan for the day. I consult my next action lists first and decide what I want to get done, write it down, and think about how it's going to come about and how long the work will take. At the end of the day, I throw away the list. I'm careful about not letting it subvert the main system, which I keep up pretty well. I didn't do this yesterday. I just did whatever work I wanted to do, but the day before I was busy with many returning-from-vacation tasks, so I made a list and took it out with me. There were eight things on the list and I did them all the way I planned.

                      Cris

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                      • #12
                        Re: Is a !Today list dangerous?

                        Originally posted by jddqr
                        I'm just wondering if you all think this method is "dangerous" in the sense that it leads you to (a) procrastinate by making your !Today list intentionally small, and (b) leads you to a false sense of security by thinking that you are "done" when you clear the !Today list.
                        I can see the usefulness of a !Today category. If my V-P comes to me and informs that he needs numbers by the end of the day, that's what would go on my !Today list. Tasks that absolutely must be done by today need their own place in my opinion. These are tasks which you don't have a choice about. You don't have to go up and down the list of tasks and choose what to do. Your boss has made the decision for you.

                        Having said that, I thought that DA indicates that these type of tasks should be put on the calendar. An item that absolutely must be done my a certain time or date becomes "hard landscape". The decision to do those tasks has no relation to context, priority, etc. They must be done that day and so they should be on the calendar.

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                        • #13
                          I think that keeping time separate from tasks is valuable (at least for me). If something has a hard due date, then I put it on my task list with a due date. I have many tasks that I need to spend multiple days working on and so will assign both a start date and a due date.

                          I think of it this way:
                          My calendar is only for my time. That is, it specifies what I will do that day. Yes, I may have blocked out time to work no a task, but I still have a task in my task list that keeps all the notes associated with the task.

                          My task list is for things I need to do. Some might get time scheduled and some might not. Some have due dates (these are the types of things Alan28 talks about) and some don't. These are just NA's that I do when I have time (slots that are not taken up by other things on my calendar).

                          I hope this is articulate enough. I works for me.

                          -Rob

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