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Is anyone also trying to synch their schedule with their mate's?

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  • Is anyone also trying to synch their schedule with their mate's?

    HI again all,

    I'm back from vacation where we had a FABULOUS time and spent some quality discussion time on our scheduling. My husband is currently reading the book and is finding that it should work very well with his natural way of thinking. I like useful tech tools but am at heart a person who focuses best when I can write things down and see them in front of me--he's a techie big time and like many techies/males I'm convinced he buys electronics with little concern for usefulness

    I've done most of my collection and purged most of my information, but I'm doing a GTD-esque kind of water treading until DH catches up and we can implement together. The reason I think we shouldn't just do our own thing is that so much of what we do is done together. We have a small business together, we've always worked in the FC manner of keeping our big picture goals in synch, but we've also always had a problem at the runway level--enter GTD hopefully.

    Right now our way of synching our schedules involves sitting down with my paper planner, the kitchen calender, and his palm--I update my planner with my schedule and a copy of his, the kitchen calendar with what impacts us both, and he notes what he needs to get done in the palm--usually he needs to do a lot because he procrastinates and then when a lot of things pile up (which he notices that he is causing to happen) it paralyzes him and he struggles with motivation. Since he's never been taught to value scheduling and I've probably turned him off by being too hard core, GTD seems to be an excellent system for us....it gives him the flexibility to choose what he wants to be doing based on energy level and interest (he does a lot of physically hard work and it limits what he feels like doing in the evening or weekend), but it also gets us working together and seeing things getting accomplished by us with no nagging from the one of us who tends to nag

    Ok to the actual question...sorry I am always giving so much background but I'm hoping it will help the responses be tailored to our situation...is how do we implement GTD together? Obviously we care about doing this from a business standpoint and I manage the office, so I think I can muddle through running everything through my inbox and only putting into his what he needs to handle in doing his actual work. However, we are like many other ppl where our work is in no way our "life"--it just finances our life. Our life is about our spirituality, our relationship, volunteer work, travel, family, and friends. We need to get all our "stuff" done so that we can enjoy the things that matter most to us, but since we do things differently (ie he electronically and me paper-based, and me loving organization and him seeing it as the death of spontanaeity) I'm not sure how to implement from the runway of our lives. We've tried the FC add on for Outlook, so he could keep his Palm updated and I could copy anything necessary into my paper planner and it was a monumental failure--neither of us updated and so it became worthless. I've been reading the threads on mylifeorganized and listpro, which could work great with his Palm, but is it as quick to synch with a paper planner too, esp when it's a paper planner held by the other mate? I have a pocket pc which I quit using because I just really like paper and hit had a battery life issue, but I've considered leaving my planner at home and breaking out the PPC for when I have to be out (which is a lot of the time) but I dont want to go through the process of entering everything until we're committed to a system we're going to stick with at least through the learning curve.

    I'm a bit like Tim99 in his listpro thread, I like the pros of paper and I like the views that are possible with electronic; and I want them both and I want them now HAHAHHA

    Suggestions for anyone who hung around long enough to get to the end??

  • #2
    Hmmm.... There are two approaches to the problem. One is the corporate approach: you both use the same tool, put shared information on a shared "server" (whether electronic or paper), etc. You've tried that, and it didn't work. The other is the individual island approach: you maintain your system the way you like, he maintains his the way he likes, and have "sync meetings" to make sure shared information is in both systems.

    Personally, I tend toward the island approach. Once I ask my husband to call the masonry contractor, it happens, so I don't need to know how the heck he manages to get anything done with the brain dead "system" he prefers. (Ahem.) And likewise from his side.

    It probably makes sense to use a shared tool for relatively static information like contacts, both personal and business, so that whoever needs to call Aunt Martha can know they have the current number. The more calendar events you have in common, the more sense it makes to have a shared tool for those.

    To Do items probably don't need to be shared. One person takes responsibility for the task, and it appears in the other person's system as a Waiting For, if at all.

    To keep everyone in sync and on the same page, I'd suggest keeping a joint master Project list, and having a joint Weekly Review. As the compulsive organizer, making sure those happen is probably going to end up being your responsibility. Use whatever tool you like, and look the other way while he pulls information into his system. Or, use a dirt simple electronic tool, like text files: you can print them out for your planner, and he can import the data without too much duplicate data entry.

    Hope this helps!

    Katherine

    Comment


    • #3
      It does help Katherine

      I appreciate your response, and as difficult as it is for me, I can close my eyes and let DH imput IF when he agreed to handle something, I could get it off my radar and feel sure it was going to get done. Since right now it's about 50/50 anything getting done at first request, I feel compelled (also by perfectionism) to keep everything on my radar and make sure it actually happens. After about 4 requests/reminders I either take it over myslef or get so irritated he takes care of it immediately to get it out of the way. A lot of this problem is with his current system (or lack thereof) and he feels GTD will really help keep so much from falling through the cracks.

      That is why I feel like we need a good synching system, so we both can let go of whatever has been delegated to the other person and not worry about it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi there,

        I have a seperate work and seperate personal system. DH is not involved in anyway with work. At work I use Outlook. Personally I use Palm and Bonsai. I have a dock at work and I sync personal only with home and work. This allows me to have personal Projects/NA's etc available to me at work but not vise-versa.

        DH does not have a PALM nor does he have a paper system. He works on his own version of "RAM" from his brain, lol! In order to keep us running smoothly it becomes my job to keep track of things that are in his court that I feel any sense of "ownership" or desire to know that task gets done.

        Here is how I'm currently running my system in regards to my husband.

        In my task list I have a
        To Do -DH's name
        1:1-DH's name
        The To Do's are things that are in his court -Delegated and if I need to discuss something with him it go's in the 1:1 section.

        You could also put his stuff in a WF section, but I prefer to have things that he is currently dealing with. Then when we have time to do a synching of our to-do's or other things that are important to us I can make sure he did or remind him again that he must do something.

        I'm new to all this so its a work in progress. It is really starting to make a difference. Right now I'm working on getting him used to checking the "tickler" file each day.

        Melanie

        Comment


        • #5
          Sounds like you have more of a relationship issue where you delegate to him but can't trust him to follow through. I'm thinking this system might help him take responsbility for his own tasks and release you to a large degree. I agree with Katherine that each of you should have your own action list which you take ownership for and if it is really important to one person that the other person complete a certain task, they can record it in their "Waiting For." I would give Katherine's suggestion a try, and if it totally doesn't work (one person still isn't doing what they supposedly committed to doing), then you'll have to go back to the drawing board. However, I think HIS taking responsibility for certain things will release you to a large degree and you will find yourself needing to track his work less and less. Just a hunch...

          Comment


          • #6
            I have to ask - what is the purpose of the kitchen calendar? Unless you have other family members who need to see it, then I would vote to scrap it altogether. I used to print out a calendar for the fridge but no one ever looked at it. My kids are too young to understand it and my husband never looked at - he would just call and say "hey what are we doing next Friday?" My husband also refuses to use any 'system' other than the occasional post-it note. Basically, I keep our calendar in my palm. Actually, I keep all our calendars in my palm using Datebk5. Each person has a category, plus I have a category for community, work and family events like church that affect more than one of us. I just review the calendar with hubby from time to time. I usually remind him daily (in the mornings while we are getting dressed) of what is happening that day or over the next few days to keep him 'in sync'. He does keep a calendar at work, but not a personal one. I realize I'm not really answering your question, but simplifying the number of places you have to look and enter data could be a start.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Aspen
              I appreciate your response, and as difficult as it is for me, I can close my eyes and let DH imput IF when he agreed to handle something, I could get it off my radar and feel sure it was going to get done.
              Two words: Waiting For.

              Delegate a task. Ask, "when do you think you'll get to this?" Create a Waiting For reminder in your system for the appropriate date. Grit your teeth and ignore it until then. If something is time sensitive, make sure that you mutually agree to an appropriate schedule, but otherwise handle it the same way.

              This approach ties into the Covey idea of stewardship, but the much more basic point is that he's a grownup. Treat him like one, expect him to act like one, and I'll bet he rises to the occasion.

              Edited to add a reminder: This approach works better if you delegate things to him using his preferred tool. That could be email, voice mail, notes stuck to his monitor, whatever.

              Katherine
              Last edited by kewms; 11-11-2005, 12:28 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                You are all helping me too.

                I think when I replied to the OP I realized a WF was probably a better solution than having a WF plus a To Do DH category. It does break it down but I think it makes more sense with a WF. I'll try it with just the WF for DH and then I can always make a WF-DH if I need to keep the list smaller and more compact.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Great idea

                  I am going to talk to him about this tonight. I have a DH who is wonderful about agreeing to do most anything asked of him (which of course means a lot of ppl ask a lot of him, including me), but he hasn't had a consistent system to keep up with what he's committed to. When he breaks down and keeps track of his time, then he knows when to say "I'd love to help you with that but I don't have any time until next week, 2 weeks, next month...whatever. Our lives run more smoothly when he does that, but he hates disappointing anyone so much that sometimes I think that is why he doesn't do the math and realize that he just CAN"T do it no matter who is asking. I'm trying to be more protective of his time and screen out some requests, but he really thinks in "best case senario" mode....that he'll have the time and energy to do EVERYTHING.

                  Adding a date to a waiting for and keeping my mouth shut until then will give both of us some breathing room and him a hardscape understanding of what is expected and when so he can delegate where he needs to before it's crisis time.

                  One question, for those of you who are into the electronic use of the GTD system, what program would you most recommend to add to his palm to allow him to easily manipulate this info. I think all it would really need would be to track projects and next actions perhaps with the collapsable views that allow it all to only be entered once, and hopefully one that can automatically bump up priority as the due date approaches. Any recommendations??

                  Thank you all for your suggestions...

                  Oh and with regard to the kitchen calendar...a lot of calls come in with invites, work, and appts; and since I keep our "must dos" on that calendar we can both check it before we commit to anything else. DH relies on that one because he doesn't keep anything except his schedule on the palm and that is not updated on the weeks that our review has gotten bumped for some reason. Maybe as another system comes online that one can be removed....we'll have to see.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Aspen
                    I've been reading the threads on mylifeorganized and listpro, which could work great with his Palm, but is it as quick to synch with a paper planner too, esp when it's a paper planner held by the other mate? I have a pocket pc which I quit using because I just really like paper and hit had a battery life issue, but I've considered leaving my planner at home and breaking out the PPC for when I have to be out (which is a lot of the time) but I dont want to go through the process of entering everything until we're committed to a system we're going to stick with at least through the learning curve.

                    I'm a bit like Tim99 in his listpro thread, I like the pros of paper and I like the views that are possible with electronic; and I want them both and I want them now HAHAHHA
                    As far as choice of tools, if you want or need the views, use the software. As I remember, tim99 wanted to use separate sheets of paper for each NA so that he could schedule a week's worth of NAs in order ahead of time (by shuffling the papers). I tried to convince him not to do that. With MyLifeOrganized, you could print out the views when you want to see them on paper; MLO recently released a version supporting printing, and the developer is committed to supporting printing of all kinds of views. In MLO, entering all your data is very fast and easy. The whole system is fast and the views are great. Plus, if you are out a lot, the Palm is very handy (though I can't speak for the PocketPC device/platform).

                    As far as syncing with your husband, if you want to track and manage many of his actions, it's going to be a pain no matter what system(s) you both use. A paper/electronic mismatch is a minor issue compared to how many of his actions you are trying to manage. This is just my opinion -- don't manage him at all. Don't hold yourself responsible for any of his commitments. Let him fail to keep them, and let him answer to the person he committed himself to. Give him the freedom and the responsibility. If he cares about keeping his word to people, he will learn how to manage himself so that he can. As long as you make sure he does, why should he really change?

                    Originally posted by Aspen
                    One question, for those of you who are into the electronic use of the GTD system, what program would you most recommend to add to his palm to allow him to easily manipulate this info. I think all it would really need would be to track projects and next actions perhaps with the collapsable views that allow it all to only be entered once, and hopefully one that can automatically bump up priority as the due date approaches. Any recommendations??
                    You mentioned MLO previously, which would be great for exactly these needs. (MLO and LB are the only tools I know of that model priorities.) The MLO/LB outline is particularly good for a hybrid system that combines Covey roles/goals and GTD projects/actions. However, here you mention a "palm," but MLO does not support Palm OS, just PocketPC. LifeBalance is a very similar product that supports Palm OS but not PocketPC. (LifeBalance does plan to support Windows Mobile as soon as Palm devices ship with them.) Does your husband also use a PC? MLO would be great to use from a PC and portably update via PocketPC. MLO also syncs to Outlook if that matters.

                    Both programs have excellent priority algorithms that will certainly bump up priority as the deadline approaches, while also accounting for lead times and importance. But the power of these models comes from inheritance: NAs automatically inherit the importance, due date, and lead time of the parent project. Basically, the closer the due date of the project, the higher the priority of all its NAs. If a bunch of subprojects are needed to complete a larger project, the subprojects and all their NAs can inherit the priority factors of the parent project. Each NA can also have its own priority factors that override the project's, but inheritance from the top down takes care of most of the prioritization and scheduling that is needed for the NAs. You rarely need to think about the importance or due date of an individual NA.

                    It's very difficult if not impossible to compare priorities of many individual Next Actions on a single list (a FAQ on this board actually), but it is easy to tell the software when a single project outcome itself is due, if it does indeed have a due date. (Importance is also considered, but everything in my system seems important, so importance almost factors out in the priority ordering.) Once each project has a due date, all the NAs inherit that due date and sort themselves on the NA lists accordingly. The due dates are also listed and color-coded in both the project outline and the NA lists.

                    I find the priority model extremely useful, sometimes even better than my intuition. For me, the priority model has replaced most of my need for weekly review/planning/scheduling because my system already knows when everything is due and how important it is. Due dates and lead times put actions on my NA lists when I need to see them, automatically, even if that is 8 months away. The NA lists change dynamically and automatically every time I cross off an action, every time I add an action, and with the passing of time, which is pretty much all I need to keep them up to date all the time.

                    These priority models also have the effect of handling time-sensitive projects/NAs that pure GTD does not represent -- tasks with a time sensitivity that must factor into their priorities when you choose actions, but which would clutter up the calendar and have to get moved a lot if you try to assign them to specific days when they are not really, truly due that day. If you find yourself moving tasks from one scheduled day to another a lot, you might want to try this approach instead.

                    MLO/LB also handle routine tasks very well, which you were asking about in another thread. The tasks pop up on your context-based NA lists, where you can see them along with all your other commitments. They too rise in priority as the due date for the routine interval approaches. The changing priority reflects (my) reality better than having to assign every routine task to a single date (as with a tickler file). They appear on the NA lists along with everything else, especially useful if you cannot absolutely commit to a specific date for each routine task. And the routines are automated.

                    So with MLO, your husband will see a very clear picture of everything he has committed himself to, routine or not, prioritized according to importance as well as when it is due (or overdue as the case may be). The stuff that is due soonest will be at the top, which I bet is the way he works (as well as the rest of us).

                    These priority models may also be appealing to your husband's desire for more spontaneity, or at least the illusion of it. Ultimately, commitments and spontaneity are at odds; but your husband will not feel that he must plan upfront (say, during a weekly review) exactly what he must do the following week. Instead, he can look at his list at 10 AM Monday; stuff that is soon due will be at the top, and at that point it's up to him whether he's going to work to meet those commitments or not.

                    Another advantage to help your husband avoid overcommitment is that it is really easy to see a single, comprehensive, prioritized list of every single commitment, in addition to the GTD context lists. I have a review list "!All Actions" which shows all committed actions from every context with all their due dates. I generally review it each morning over coffee. If it were not prioritized, it would be too annoying to review, but prioritized, it's a clear picture of my upcoming commitments. For me, it's a strong antidote to overcommitting myself. If something more important or urgent presents itself during the day, I know exactly what previous commitments have to be renegotiated.

                    MLO provides more ways to weight urgency more strongly, basically, more ways to give an action a VIP pass to the top of the list. However, it is rather amusing to apply these urgency boosts to lots of projects/actions -- because there is only one slot at the very top of the list. This is an accurate model, though -- you can only do one action at a time. So with MLO, you can end up with a whole screenful of 50 NAs that all got boosted to the "top" of the list, while the things that are merely "important" languish at the "bottom." This could very well happen to your husband if his current habits continue, but it could also help him change his habits because the software shows so clearly what a mess life is when you overcommit and then procrastinate.

                    LifeBalance, on the other hand, also represents urgency and puts the things due soonest near the top; but it also provides a way to boost priority by importance. This is interesting, much more Covey-esque, and may really appeal to you, but the reality of life for most of us, I think, is that urgency generally trumps importance. My family may be more important to me than my finances, but when taxes are due, calling my mother has to wait.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by andersons
                      Another advantage to help your husband avoid overcommitment is that it is really easy to see a single, comprehensive, prioritized list of every single commitment, in addition to the GTD context lists. I have a review list "!All Actions" which shows all committed actions from every context with all their due dates. I generally review it each morning over coffee. If it were not prioritized, it would be too annoying to review, but prioritized, it's a clear picture of my upcoming commitments. For me, it's a strong antidote to overcommitting myself. If something more important or urgent presents itself during the day, I know exactly what previous commitments have to be renegotiated.
                      Andersons, That sounds like a great reality check. (I'll take coffee with mine, thanks.)

                      I wasn't aware that LB could do this. How do you get due dates to show up on the screen with each action?
                      Or do you have to tap into the details of each action to see its due date?

                      Aspen, I think LB (or something like it) would be worth trying for your business. While your husband is responsible for meeting commitments he makes, it seems like a good idea for there to be a masterlist somewhere of what deliverables your business has committed to. It might be worth experimenting with a weekly review based on this, in which you could report to each other how your projects are coming.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the software review, andersons!

                        I really appreciate the software explanations. Hubby has a palm, I have a pocket pc (running Windows CE which I assume was an early version of Windows Mobile?) so maybe it wouldn't be worth be going back to portable electronic. What we may end up doing is using LB for his palm and for Outlook and since our computers are networked maybe that can be the master list spot.....not sure how that would work. But if we could use Outlook as a master, then I could download to my planner and he to a palm, right?

                        I am really agreeing with you that what I need to do is let us have a master project list, each claim what we are going to handle out of it, and then let each person handle their own commitments. I want very much to do that and yet I sabotage it in exactly the way you all mention by keeping up with everything anyway. When we discussed it last night, we're both in love with the due dates for the WFs that Katherine mentioned. He's hoping to finish the book today and then we'll be doing some hard planning tomorrow.

                        Thanks for all the help you guys! It makes it much easier for newbies to start out on the right foot.
                        Last edited by Aspen; 11-12-2005, 09:28 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ActionGirl
                          Andersons, That sounds like a great reality check. (I'll take coffee with mine, thanks.)

                          I wasn't aware that LB could do this. How do you get due dates to show up on the screen with each action?
                          Or do you have to tap into the details of each action to see its due date?
                          It's gotta be really good coffee, too.

                          Actually, I was talking about MLO at that point, since that's the software Aspen mentioned. I don't have a PPC, so I have tested it only on the PC. In the version I am testing (not the very latest), future due dates are shown in blue; tasks due today are shown in orange with the word "today"; and overdue tasks are shown in red. I'm accustomed to viewing everything on a little monochrome PDA, so the screen real estate and color are extremely nice.

                          You're right, LB on my PDA does not show due dates on the screen because the screen is just too small. But you can set the preferences to show the lead time hourglass icon on the task list, and then the due date is just one tap away. However, the LB PC version does show the due dates on the screen. Overdue tasks are shown in pink -- more gentle than the red, I guess. Once again, this view is very nice.

                          Originally posted by ActionGirl
                          While your husband is responsible for meeting commitments he makes, it seems like a good idea for there to be a masterlist somewhere of what deliverables your business has committed to.
                          From the standpoint of how a system can help you, this does help. For chronic overcommiters, each individual commitment in isolation seems like no big deal. To combat the over-optimism of the isolated view, Covey talks about knowing what's on your plate so that you can say no when you need to; Allen makes it far more explicit because he tells you to write every commitment down.

                          The prioritized masterlist essentially provides a flexible schedule of everything I have to do in the future. At the very top are the things I need to do today. The first few screens are things to do approximately this week. Stuff below that is approximately next week. Etc. I'm not sure exactly where the cutoff point is for this week's tasks versus next week's, but the prioritized list lets me be flexible about that while keeping my upcoming deadlines on my radar. If I want to focus on the immediate, I stick to the top of the list; if I want to keep an eye on the future, I read to the bottom of the list. If I'm thinking about adding a commitment to the top of the list, then the stuff further down with due dates will have to be renegotiated, or else I will have to live with the increased work and stress of trying to get it all done in time. And of course, things on the list without due dates will have to wait even longer to get done.

                          However, this works for me only because I do really want to avoid overcommitment. A tool can help you do what you already want to do, but I don't know if it can make you want to do things in the first place. It took a couple of painful lessons for me to decide that I must avoid overcommitment.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            There was a quote in the GTD book that said something like "if two or more people are responsible then no one is responsible". That quote has always stuck with me so I have been very focused on determining who is ultimately responsible for the various outcomes on my list. This works for both work and home life. Right now, we need new tires on our van. Ultimately, my husband is responsible for this project. I may be the one that drops the van off at the garage for the work (which will amount to an appointment on my hard landscape), but he will make the calls, shop around for the tires, etc. So in cases like this I don't bother to put 'new tires' on my project list. A better example might be a work project I am doing that involves a lot of working parts. I only track the parts I am responsible for. I remember reading somewhere that when defining the project that you need to determine "when will I hand this off to someone else?" When you determine when that point will be, then you have found your successful outcome. After that point the ball is in someone else's court.

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