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  • Figuring Out the To-Dos for Today

    I'm just starting GTD and am having a hard time figuring out what to work on when I review my NA lists. I'll review the NA lists and come up with several NAs I'd like to do. I might do one, forget the rest and have to review the lists again.

    One of the goals of GTD is to get these things out of your head. If a daily to do list is discouraged, doesn't that make us keep track of everything in our heads anyway?

    How do other GTDers work with their NA lists on a daily basis?

  • #2
    Re: Figuring Out the To-Dos for Today

    Originally posted by jborganized
    I might do one, forget the rest and have to review the lists again.
    Yep. That's the idea!

    You look over your list for your current context and determine what you should most work on next. Once you've done that you review the list again to determine what is the new best thing to work on. It's a continual cycle, but it builds trust in you system. If you can develop the habit of prioritizing on-the-fly instead of setting priorities beforehand, you will be much better for it.

    Having said all that, there are those on this board that use an @Today context. I personally happen to feel this is counter-GTD but if works for you then that's great!

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    • #3
      Re: Figuring Out the To-Dos for Today

      Originally posted by jborganized
      I'll review the NA lists and come up with several NAs I'd like to do. I might do one, forget the rest and have to review the lists again.

      I'm new to GTD, too, and am amazed by some of the startlingly life-revolutionizing techniques.

      Uh..... that said, and sincerely meant, I have learned that I must rely on a First Thing In The Morning List --- I usually make it last thing at night.

      I'm simply NOT a 'morning person' -- and these little lists help to remind me what I actually want to do with my day --- something that actually might not occur to me until my third or fourth cup of coffee.

      I'm a night-owl type and exceptionally foggy in the morning.

      MAYBE when I've got the entire system under way, and have been using it for long enough that it's habitually second nature.... well, *maybe* I won't need to rely on any "Well, WAKE UP anyway!" .... but I'm not necessarily expecting that much of a life change thru GTD, lol.

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      • #4
        One thing to keep in mind with N/A lists is that they are just "reminders"....

        So, do whatever you have to do with your lists so that you are "reminded" to do what needs to be done.

        If that means that you would like to keep a "short-list" of things that you want to be reminded to do today... so be it. That's the beauty of this system - it's functional, yet still flexible enough to meet just about anyone's needs.

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        • #5
          Generally, when I am finished with one next action, I will scan my next action lists and choose another. But the lists are just bookmarks or reminders of what to do. If I already know what I want to do next, I go ahead and do it. Or if the first time I scan my list for the day I see a few next actions I want to work on, then I may jot them down on a piece of paper so I don't have to review my entire list again.

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          • #6
            I still do a daily to-do list, but only when absolutely necessary. If I've got 5 priorities and they all absolutely have to be done that day, they go on a sticky note on my monitor (there's nothing else there, so I can't miss it). Heresy, I know.

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            • #7
              Another variation

              I sort of thought that DA was trying to avoid the trap of a list of things for ***TODAY*** - that the "I must accomplish these before 11:59PM!" was the potential disaster...

              So I use the name "On Deck", (used to be US Navy and the NAs and ticklers that are most important, not necessarily for today only, but in the near future, get moved here so that I can look at one list almost all of the time, unitl it's relativiely empty, at which point I go scan my context lists and fill up On Deck with the next most important bits.

              I see it as a kind of funneling, per se... Someday/Maybe >- Project >- NA lists >- On Deck >- Doing. At each step, the most important / relevant / fun things get through to claim a more active share of my attention and time...

              HTH

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              • #8
                Today

                I've had a revelation since I recently dropped my IPAQ PDA and turned it into a $279 paperweight (no more PDA's for me). And that is that the one gripe I have with GTD is that it is always either too narrow or too wide a view of what needs doing.

                I either rely on a list of 150 or so NA's or focus my attention on the one thing from that list that I need to do now. I need a better view of the immediate - primarily this week. I've found a nice tool for this called the Planner Pad. Its a nice idea to try and get everything out of your head, but I want to have a good number of things in my face (on deck) to keep things from slipping through the cracks.

                Just my perspective....

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                • #9
                  I either rely on a list of 150 or so NA's or focus my attention on the one thing from that list that I need to do now. I need a better view of the immediate - primarily this week.

                  The way I've understood and practiced GTD, if I'm not actively working on a project this week, it's on my calendar or Someday/Maybe list, not my project list; the same goes for any related next actions. That's why reviews are typically done on a weekly basis.

                  I suppose more industrious people than myself have a 150 NAs on a single list, but if the list is organized by context (e.g. @computer), the range of actions should be far less; but certainly not limited to one thing.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gameboy70
                    The way I've understood and practiced GTD, if I'm not actively working on a project this week, it's on my calendar or Someday/Maybe list, not my project list; the same goes for any related next actions. That's why reviews are typically done on a weekly basis.
                    Very interesting.

                    Curious about something... Do you also make extensive use of checklists - for repetitive type tasks, and thus there are many areas of your life which do not show up as NAs, because such things are in your tickler file in the form of a checklist?

                    Also, what do you do, during those weeks when you just happen to finish up all your NAs super early in the week? Certainly that must happen on occasion, the way you've set up GTD.

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                    • #11
                      As I am scanning my context lists, when I see a task that MUST be done today, I remove the category name from it. That puts it in the "Unfiled" category on my Palm, but more importantly puts it in the "None" category when I sync to Outlook. The "None" category sits up at the very top of the task list. This way, the "must dos" don't get hidden among the "could dos."

                      Frank

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                      • #12
                        taskline

                        A tool I use to complement GTD and helps with this isssue is taskline.

                        This outlook add-in establishes an order for your tasks based on your priorities, constraints, time you expect them to take and your hard landscape (the appointments in your calendar).

                        The drawback is that it does not consider your contexts (@calls, @computer, etc.) But if most of your tasks are all done at the same place (@office) then that is not much of a problem.

                        There is a 10-day trial period.

                        See www.taskline.info
                        Good luck

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Grateful
                          Curious about something... Do you also make extensive use of checklists - for repetitive type tasks, and thus there are many areas of your life which do not show up as NAs, because such things are in your tickler file in the form of a checklist?

                          Also, what do you do, during those weeks when you just happen to finish up all your NAs super early in the week? Certainly that must happen on occasion, the way you've set up GTD.
                          If it's repetitive and involves multiple actions, then yes, it gets a checklist. I've been working off the checklists long enough do execute them without looking at the lists in most cases. Any list is just a way to avoid redundant thinking. Once the actions on the list have gelled into a habit, the list itself is simply reference material.

                          If I get ahead of myself I either review my Someday/Maybe list to promote some things to the Project list, or I do another Weekly Review (I often do more than one a week if I feel like I have unfinished business rattling around in my head). Other times I'll do things as they occur to me intuitively. Once you get things done, it tends to spontaneously open the channel for a lot of creative thinking due to fewer distractions.

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                          • #14
                            Item 1 for GTD Message Board checklist: Log in! I'm Guest from the above post.

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                            • #15
                              I use checklists extensively, but I generally don't put them in my tickler file. For recurring tasks, I use ReDo to add "Review X checklist" to my next action list at the appropriate time. I also review checklists during my weekly review.

                              When my list of active projects and next actions gets too long to scan easily, I move items onto the Someday/Maybe list. Although technically they involve projects I need or want to move forward as soon as possible, if realistically I am not going to touch them within the next week or so, I have gotten comfortable moving them to my Someday/Maybe list. If you take this approach, you have to conduct consistent periodic reviews or you may miss an important commitment. Keeping a shorter next action list helps me make better decisions in the moment and leaves the larger decisions for the weekly review.

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