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Missing My To-Do List

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  • Missing My To-Do List

    This morning I looked through my Next Action lists and spotted about a half-dozen things that I today would be a great day to get done. But I didn't make a to-do list. As a result, I've had to comb back through my lists over and over again to decide what to do next and try to remember what I was excited about accomplishing.

    If I had a to-do list, it would be on a separate page of paper (because no item is important enough to schedule it on my calendar) and I would have the satisfaction of either completing my goals for the day or throwing out the list and making a new one tomorrow (don't have to worry about re-writing it since everything is still on my Next Action lists). It would kind of be like a Six More Important Things To Do list except that it wouldn't be a lifeline - rather, just a simple set of goals made at the beginning of the day so I can get that sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

    Anyone else feel my pain? Any ideas/suggestions?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Feel your pain.

    Some people have an @Today category in Outlook. I tried that for awhile, but I never checked that category in outlook, so it didn't work well. Maybe it would work better for you.

    HTH
    Taxgeek

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    • #3
      It sounds like a daily task list concept from the Franklin Covey system. It is a sound concept and I see no reason not to do it if you want to.

      The risk is by generating yet another list you have more places for things to be and therefore more to keep track of. But it sounds like you are using it just as a reminder of the n/a's you are hitting that day. It seems very useful.

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      • #4
        I am not a fan of "to-do" lists. Did them for years. Dog-eared pieces of paper that junked and already junked up desk. I got to where I could not even stand to look at the thing.

        In any event, I now use the GTD paradigm and the classical "to-do" list is no more. It is refreshing to come to work in the morning with a clean desk and no messy, dog-eared to-do list staring me in the face.

        Now the "to-do's" are on single sheets of notebook paper scattered throughout my tickler file for upcoming days.

        But, if you like to-do lists then certainly keep them up. For me, however, I dont ever plan on using one again.

        Danny Hardesty

        www.dannyhardesty.com

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        • #5
          I do this all the time! I've tried the @Today category, which didn't work for me either (as someone else here mentioned). However, sometimes there's nothing like a sheet of paper with five things on it that you can cross right off that day. On hectic days that gives me a sense of closure that the NA list just doesn't.

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          • #6
            Is this a problem with methodology or implementation? Any @list can be placed on its own page. But it's important to recognize the difference between an action list (e.g. Six More Important Things To Do) and a de facto Someday/Maybe list. By blending the two, you start going numb to the entire list and gradually lose the motivation to do anything off of it.

            Test it out. Take your Six More Important Things and make that your next action list. And put everything else in Someday/Maybe. Once you complete those six things, you can review your Someday/Maybe list and make decisions about what actions your willing to do, transferring those to your action list. By setting up hard edges between these lists, you'll become more conscious about what actions are real committments, and which ones are merely "shoulds."

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            • #7
              Pageta, are you keeping all your NA items with the original projects?
              If you are using @context lists, then what you have every day IS a To Do list, appropriate for where you are right then. And there is nothing wrong with a daily review. Just as in the weekly review, you take each project and check off the old NAs and write down the new NA. David doesn't say you can only do that once a week. In fact, you do it as often as you need to, to get rid of whatever's in your mind, and be certain you are doing the right thing at the right time. If that means you take 5 mins every morning and review your NAs and rewrite them, then that's what it takes!
              If you are overwhelmed with your NA lists, maybe you need to do some re-negotiating with yourself as to what you want to commit to. Maybe there's some things on there that need to go back into Someday/Maybe, or be dropped entirely.
              Hope this helps!
              Elena

              Comment


              • #8
                Daily list of next actions in Outlook

                Hi pageta,

                I too still like to have a short-list of next actions for the day. If you use Outlook, here is one approach that works well. You can setup the TaskPad view to show only those next actions that have a start date for today. Then, perform a daily review of your next actions lists in the morning (or in the evening before -- whatever works best for you) and select those next actions that you wish to focus on today and give them a start date for today. This creates a "daily list" on your TaskPad, still with context categories. You can still scan your master list of next actions categorized by context for those small windows of time that you want to take advantage of. The nice thing about this setup is that the next day, your TaskPad will be automatically clear. Those next actions that you were not able to do won't be on there because there start date was yesterday. Just a nice little trick.

                Regards,
                Longstreet

                Comment


                • #9
                  My action lists are clearly separate from my project and someday/maybe lists and they are all sorted by location (home, office, errands, calls). They are things that I definitely intend to do (not someday/maybes) but that don't necessarily have to be done today. I just read in the GTD book this morning that the average person has 300 to 500 hours of next actions if nothing changed...or something like that. So obviously they won't all get done today. I probably have fifty items combined from all four action lists.

                  I think where I struggle is that my life has very little scheduling and very few deadlines, unless I do it myself. I mean, the house does not HAVE to be cleaned today, but I would really like it to be cleaned today. Does cleaning the house merit being written on the calendar? Probably not. Still, I would really like to do it today - maybe it really needs it, maybe I just have a good window of opportunity since I have no plans this evening and dh will be able to watch our toddler so I can clean without our toddler's help. So maybe cleaning the house DOES merit scheduling since tonight would be a very good opportunity to do it. But I still like having the flexibility of being able to go to a movie instead if that's what I decide to do. That's my problem. If I have a to-do list, I know it's something I'd really like to do today, but I can throw it away and forget that I every planned to do it if I don't get it finished. If I put it on the calendar, I create a messy calendar for myself due to the rescheduling. A to-do list just works so well.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My approach:

                    Print all my current Next Actions on one page, sorted by context. (If they don't all fit, then I need to step back, move some of them to Someday/Maybe, and try again.)

                    Go through the list with a highlighter, and mark the five or ten things that are the highest priority for whatever reason.

                    This sheet becomes my working NA list for the day, and is a convenient place to scribble quick notes, followup dates, and other information. My daily review consists of putting all this information into my master system, processing my inbox, and generating another one page NA list.

                    This way, I still have the complete list, which is helpful if I decide I want to blow through my entire @phone list instead of just making the one critical call. But I've also flagged the things I need to do in order to have a "successful" day.

                    Katherine

                    PS Instead of agonizing about whether to schedule cleaning the house or not, what if you just grabbed a bottle of 409 and some towels and attacked your kitchen counters? They'd be done in the time it took to write your post.
                    Last edited by kewms; 07-19-2005, 06:52 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      daily to-do lists

                      Originally posted by pageta
                      This morning I looked through my Next Action lists and spotted about a half-dozen things that I today would be a great day to get done....
                      If I had a to-do list...
                      Originally posted by Elena
                      If that means you take 5 mins every morning and review your NAs and rewrite them, then that's what it takes!
                      Personally, I often note down short (ten items or less) daily 'to do' lists. I record any changes (e.g., completed tasks) in my master next action lists and trash the paper copy.
                      Originally posted by AMS
                      I've tried the @Today category, which didn't work for me
                      @Today didn't work for me either. It blurs the distinction between next actions and scheduled actions. If something must be done on a particular date, I might as well schedule it. Also, @Today displaces any other @action context associated with the action.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My solution is to keep NA's on cards (preferably small business-sized card, although many use index cards). One NA per card. Avoids the problem of having to rewrite lists as items are completed. Also allows a quick review through the deck to pull out items I want to work on today, with a return to the deck for those items not actually completed.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by pageta
                          But I still like having the flexibility of being able to go to a movie instead if that's what I decide to do. That's my problem. If I have a to-do list, I know it's something I'd really like to do today, but I can throw it away and forget that I every planned to do it if I don't get it finished. If I put it on the calendar, I create a messy calendar for myself due to the rescheduling. A to-do list just works so well.
                          I don't think that a "ToDo" list is going to help you in this situation, other than to make you painfully aware that you've chosen to go to the movies instead of cleaning your house.

                          No "list" of any sort can force you to do someting... that desire has to come from within.

                          Personally, I just go through my life doing things as they come up... if I can't do them at the moment they go on my NA list, and when I have a few spare moments here and there I consult my lists and knock things off. Other wise, I don't think about them at all. Am I reminded when I pass through the garage that it needs to be cleaned? Of course! But, at the same time just sitting around relaxing with my family on a Sunday afternoon may be the best thing I could be doing at the moment!

                          The garage is on my list, with a ton of other things... and they'll get done eventually. But in the moment, I'm not thinking about them or feeling guilty about not doing them, and that in of itself is the reward of this system!
                          Last edited by jkgrossi; 07-19-2005, 09:32 AM.

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                          • #14
                            I feel the pain of not having a "sense of accomplishment" or "closure" when everything is electronic. However, I did find a way to soothe this - I discovered the Timeline task view in Outlook. It seems to be like the Journal view, but focused solely on tasks. When I wonder what I've been doing today, I check out the Timeline view, and I can see how many (and what) tasks I've actually crossed off today (if I remember correctly, I had to customize the view to just show 'completed date). It works like a charm.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by kewms
                              My approach:

                              Print all my current Next Actions on one page, sorted by context. (If they don't all fit, then I need to step back, move some of them to Someday/Maybe, and try again.)

                              Go through the list with a highlighter, and mark the five or ten things that are the highest priority for whatever reason.

                              This sheet becomes my working NA list for the day, and is a convenient place to scribble quick notes, followup dates, and other information. My daily review consists of putting all this information into my master system, processing my inbox, and generating another one page NA list.
                              The daily NA sheet seems to be a very smart idea. It adds the obligatory Daily Review step to the whole process and forces you to rethink what's important during next 24 hours and what's not. You divide your huge list of NAs into to two parts: NA24 (Next Actions for the next 24 hours - must fit on one page) and NAND (Next Actions for Next Days).

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