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  • GTD and deadlines

    My present role results in a lot of small projects that need dealing with. Some have deadlines, some have not, some deadlines have to be met, some don't. I am finding that GTD helps a lot with the `losing things problem' as they all get picked up and put into the system. I don't find it so useful in tracking the deadlines though. How is that supposed to happen ? My impression from reading the book is that I am *not* supposed to come in in the morning and sort all next actions by deadline and do the urgent ones.

    How do other people track deadlines particularly when there are lots of them.

    Thanks - Michael

    PS. I realise there is another thread on this but my problem seems different. Finished the thesis in 1983!

  • #2
    Tracking deadlines

    What I do is during the weekly review look at the next two weeks in my calendar and also check the project list and the deadlines. I then create new actions as needed from this.

    It might be useful to write "D-" ("D- Deadline project A") or something similar before deadlines in your calendar application to be able to find easily all the deadlines (This is useful for Palms). Or if you use Outlook or Entourage, you might want to create a new category called "Deadline" and use this on new deadline events, so that you can search for all deadline events easily.

    Luis

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    • #3
      Originally posted by mmurray
      I don't find it so useful in tracking the deadlines though. How is that supposed to happen ? My impression from reading the book is that I am *not* supposed to come in in the morning and sort all next actions by deadline and do the urgent ones.
      First, are you doing the weekly review? If you cannot give an enthusiastic "yes!" then any solutions people suggest will not work as well as they otherwise could.

      Second, are you sure you're doing the weekly review?

      Third, I'm not kidding - did you do a weekly review?

      In the weekly review you should have already gone through your NAs, identified those with drop-dead dates, and put that info on your calendar. Why would you want to do this every morning or run through your calendar looking for things that might blow up?

      Originally posted by mmurray
      How do other people track deadlines particularly when there are lots of them.
      I mark the deadline on my calendar, mark milestone deadlines on my calendar, and set reminders a day or two before each one to keep me on track.

      Comment


      • #4
        what worked for me

        I also find myself dealing with lots of small projects that have different levels of deadline and priority. What worked for me when I first started was to put the deadlines in my task list. If it was a hard date, I would put that, otherwise I would put a range of dates when that task could be done.
        When I would start to feel overwhelmed with deadlines, I would set aside some time in the morning (which is when I work best, feel refreshed, etc.) and work on the urgent tasks, switching contexts (from computer to phone and back) if I needed to, until I felt like I had made progress on the most important tasks. I was doing this daily for awhile. What happened for me was (#1) I started to spend less time in panic mode and therefore was able to do the next actions way before they became urgent and (#2) I realized that I still wasn't defining next actions very well (which is why I put them off and they became urgent in the first place).
        I'm still tweaking. Keep us posted on what works for you.
        Mindi

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        • #5
          Michael,

          For me, hard deadlines go on the calendar. Also, I may add some reminders on my calendar as the deadline date approaches. These are in addition to the reminder in my NA list.

          As others have pointed out, the Weekly Review is key to the success of this system. The Weekly Review ensures that nothing falls through the cracks, because by definition you will be reviewing all of your open loops at least weekly.

          In addition, sometimes I'll also block out some time on my calendar to work on a pressing project. I treat that time as I would any other meeting (i.e. if something more pressing comes up, I'll evaluate whether or not I should cancel this "meeting" in the same manner I would had the meeting been with others).

          Hope this helps,

          James

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm trying to find the solution for deadlines as well. The biggest problem is small projects: prepare a proposal, move a sales cycle etc. because they appear in between Weekly Reviews (I can get a request for proposal on Monday and by all means should reply on Wednesday maximum otherwise we are out of bussiness). Assumption: probably there're more important tasks that could appear during the week but I don't want to take the most important one daily but finish all the tasks even not important ones (but they can become very important) in a timely manner. I also realize that if I don't block the time when to work on some tasks (for me these are mainly @Computer tasks because I have a lot of time for @Call tasks while driving - almost 4 hours daily I will never do them because all my time usually goes to meetings (requested by me or by my customers).

            I'm still tuning this deadline system but now it looks like that (for Outlook):

            1. I made a time map that somehow works for me. My requirements were: 1. I should have time for working on @Computer tasks daily because of the above mentioned small projects that should be treated daily and my Assumption. 2. I should have time for emails daily. 3. I should have more time for meetings as they are the only way to get money in my type of business (equipment sales for telecoms). 4. I should have time for MBA daily in the evening; 5. I wanna have personal time when I can read or whatever; That's how it looks like now:

            09-10 Computer and email
            11-17 Meetings / Project Work (any @Computer that is 30 min and more goes here or MBA studies*)
            18-22 MBA Time or Familty Time
            22-24 Personal Time

            Calls are made on the road in between meetings.

            * MBA is my personal activities but have no time and energy to do them at home so do it during working hours

            1. Weekly Review: look through all projects and calendar events and put them into Next Actions with priorities (1 - DueDate, 2 - New sale or not, 3 - ROI, 4 - Time to finish - I cteated user defined fields except for outlooks deadline field). Having in mind that I have only 1 hour daily for @Computer tasks I take the most important tasks from all the tasks planned for the upcoming week with total time to do that's equal to 1 hour and put them on Monday, then the tasks with lower priority equal to 1 hour and put them to Tuesday and so on. If the task more then 30 minutes it should be splitted by 1 or 1,5 hours and go to Calendar section (Project Work time zone) and should be treated like a meeting with someone.

            2. I start on Monday at 9 with the planned tasks for this day. Then answer email putting all the tasks into taskpad with requested deadline (and of course put in other priorites mentioned above: ROI, Time, Sale) or with a deadline that I think reasonable for this task: i.e. Proposal should be done maximum the next day after the request, customer question should be answered maximum in 2 days etc. If the email task is longer then 30 minutes it goes to Project Work zone of the Calendar.

            3. If I don't have meeting I continue working on my tasks (take Tuesday, Wednsdey etc).

            4. If I have interruption (i.e a call) I just put resulted Next Action to the taskpad with requested deadline (and of course put in other priorites mentioned above: ROI, Time, Sale) or with a deadline that I think reasonable for this task.

            5. While driving to a meeting or between meeting I empty @Call list for this day. If I have time then I look further through tasks for Tue, Wed... if there're tasks that could be done today.

            That's how it works now. The only problem now is with project work for MBA as I have a lot of meetings now for a very important project and really don't want to do MBA As I said still tuning the system as I wanna make it Universal

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mmurray
              My present role results in a lot of small projects that need dealing with. Some have deadlines, some have not, some deadlines have to be met, some don't. I am finding that GTD helps a lot with the `losing things problem' as they all get picked up and put into the system. I don't find it so useful in tracking the deadlines though. How is that supposed to happen ? My impression from reading the book is that I am *not* supposed to come in in the morning and sort all next actions by deadline and do the urgent ones.

              How do other people track deadlines particularly when there are lots of them.
              A key idea in GTD is to keep a clean edge between hard landscape and discretionary time. If it occurs to me Friday night that I need to call Fred when he's in the office, but he won't be there until Monday, I put the action on my calendar, not on my @Calls list. The @Calls list is only for calls I can actually make, with no dependencies. Come Monday, I either make the call or, if it's a longer call, move it to the @Calls list.

              If I have to make the call by Monday, it stays on the calendar as a day-specific, untimed entry, letting me know that while I don't have to call Fred at a specific time, I do need to call him by the end of the day (In my case "end of the day" often means earlier than I leave work, due to time zone differences, but I still leave them untimed). This and other day-specific actions (in between time-specific actions) get done before moving to items on the action lists, which are done in discretionary time. The calendar is my safety net: as long as those items are addressed appropriately, I don't worry about anything on my action lists blowing up on me.

              If you put project deadlines on your calendar and/or your project listing, you'll see them on your weekly review, scanning as far in advance as you need to. And each morning, you'll see what has to be done that day in your daily review by making it a habit to look at your calendar before your action lists. Then you don't have to sort through next actions for urgent items. It's either hard landscape or it's not. If it's not, then it's discretionary time within which you make priority choices of what to do from your action lists, doing them as soon as possible. This is probably the difference Covey noted between what's urgent and what's important.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Gameboy70
                A key idea in GTD is to keep a clean edge between hard landscape and discretionary time. If it occurs to me Friday night that I need to call Fred when he's in the office, but he won't be there until Monday, I put the action on my calendar, not on my @Calls list. The @Calls list is only for calls I can actually make, with no dependencies. Come Monday, I either make the call or, if it's a longer call, move it to the @Calls list.
                While I agree with you about hard edges, I don't like this example. Putting a call on my calendar Friday night, only to move it to my NA list Monday morning, seems like silly paper (or bit) shuffling to me.

                I use date filters for a similar function. In my system, I would put the call on my NA list, but date it for Monday. (Or Friday, or two weeks from now.) That way it's in the system, in the right place, but hidden until I can act on it.

                The only things I put in my calendar are appointments and deadlines (including informal milestones for big projects).

                Katherine

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kewms
                  While I agree with you about hard edges, I don't like this example. Putting a call on my calendar Friday night, only to move it to my NA list Monday morning, seems like silly paper (or bit) shuffling to me.
                  When I do my daily review in the morning, the act of moving it from my calendar to @Calls list (a 2-second cut-and-paste action that I do almost autonomically) let's me know the call is not mission critical. Part of the review is reducing the calls on my calendar to the ones that have to be done that day. In the past, when I've tried leaving them on the calendar to save a couple of keystrokes, I've never been able to escape a twinge of anxiety about my choice of calls when things get busy. Date filters and tickler files are other valid approaches, but I prefer the graphic blot of a calendar entry.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kewms
                    I use date filters for a similar function. In my system, I would put the call on my NA list, but date it for Monday. (Or Friday, or two weeks from now.) That way it's in the system, in the right place, but hidden until I can act on it.
                    Katherine
                    Katherine, do you use Outlook and deadline field as a date filter or any other field?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Borisoff
                      Katherine, do you use Outlook and deadline field as a date filter or any other field?
                      In Outlook, you could use either the Start Date or the Complete Date.

                      I actually keep my system in ResultManager, a MindManager add-on. It does the filtering for me, so future items don't even get to Outlook.

                      Katherine

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