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Categorising tasks correctly

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  • Categorising tasks correctly

    Hello

    I recently implemented GTD and particulalry like using all day appointments - as tasks I 'must' and 'intend' to get done on a day. The trouble is I never finish the day's tasks, so I don't get to review my action lists daily. That means these (@PC especially) feel a bit scary - I'm not quite sure what's in there.

    My understanding from the book is that you look at appointments, then all day appointments, and action lists when you've finished all of those. The trouble is I have about 40 @PC tasks (this is my main client work list). This feels like a cumbersome list to look at if I clear the day tasks. It would be impossible to scan that list and just get on with something, without getting back into thinking and planning. And I suspect this is why I'm relying on the all day appointments/tasks.

    My second problem is that with about 150 projects and tasks, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and want to hide.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on either of these points?

    thanks

    Ben

  • #2
    I had the same problems. A lot of Next Actions in the same category is difficult to choose from.

    So the first thing I did - put as much of the projects as I could into Someday-Maybe category with all of the corresponding Next Actions.

    Second, I use my intuition on what to do if there're no all-day events and if it tells nothing then I go to Next Actions lists. In the list itself I put Project name as the second word in the sentence (I use Windows Mobile so the screen is too small to show the whole sentence) - that allows me to prioritize based on the Project. For example: @Computer Open ABCPROJECT excel and start a new project file. And if there're 10-20 next actions it's still possible to quickly choose the most important in the moment.

    Regards,

    Eugene.

    Comment


    • #3
      I would recommend you re-examine your day tasks. Are you sure those tasks are absolutely date sensitive, those that definitely has to get done that day? Tasks that you only ‘intend’ to do should go to your next actions and done ASAP. Picking out tasks you like and putting them on your calendar is not GTD. There should be no preferential treatment of next actions. And if you’re careful with using your calendar, you wouldn’t fill a day with more tasks than you can handle.

      If you find a huge bulk of your next actions often accumulating to a certain context, I would recommend you break that context down further into sub-contexts. For example, you could break down @ pc into @online, @app, @email, whatever suits you best. Sub-sorting a long list of next actions would make it less cumbersome.

      In addition to this, the weekly review would definitely help in keeping you aware of what goes into your lists. We only have so much time in a week, and if you honestly think you wouldn’t be able to do a project, no matter how badly you want to get it done, it should go into someday/maybe. Keeping stalled projects lingering on your active project list would only create stress and impair your implementation of GTD. Don’t worry about moving projects you’d like to get done to someday/maybe, because you’ll get the chance to re-examine them during your weekly review. You can transfer them to active list once you feel your schedule can handle them.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for those thoughts. OK, I'm clearly using the day task wrongly. I'll keep those to 'have to happen that day' from now on.

        I'll also think about how to split up my @PC list. The thing is, i work for myself, from home. So I'm usually at my desk, with internet etc. And that list tends to have tasks for client projects so they need to happen and can't really go to Someday maybe.

        Of course, perhaps if there's a mega list that must happen, maybe I just have too much and need to find ways to delegate - it suggest that I'm not doing things that clients are adking. not good for business.

        Any other thoughts?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by wordsman
          Of course, perhaps if there's a mega list that must happen, maybe I just have too much and need to find ways to delegate - it suggest that I'm not doing things that clients are adking. not good for business.
          I think that's one of the core tenets of GTD, once you know what committments you have, then you can start renegotiating current ones, and you can then see where you might want to say no.

          Comment


          • #6
            S/m

            Here are some ideas for you...

            First, try to realize, also, that just because a project is on the Someday or "incubating" list, doesn't mean you won't do it, it just means you are being realistic about what you can do this week. You can put a lot of Next Actions from all your projects on your @PC context as you have been doing, but you need to realize that you are just overwhelming yourself with things to do at PC.

            Second, be sure you're actions for @PC are actually only Actions.. not sub-projects.. Speaking from experience here -- I get overwhelmed if there is something on the list that I thought was an Action but that was a Project in hiding.. that I actually needed to think more clearly about and decide on what I needed to do next.

            Others have better tips about pulling Next Actions from Projects if you search the forums..

            Keep us informed about how it goes, too.
            Darla

            Comment


            • #7
              If you have 150 projects and tasks, they aren't all going to get done this week. That's true regardless of whether you put them in your Someday/Maybe list, your active NA list, or on a big sticky note stuck in the middle of your monitor. GTD doesn't increase the number of hours in the day.

              Rather, GTD asks you to recognize reality and make informed decisions up front about what will and won't get done. Once you've made those decisions, you can move the things that won't get done out of your mental space *for the time being,* and focus on the things that you *can* do.

              Good luck!

              Katherine

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by darlakbrown
                being realistic about what you can do this week.
                Interesting. I've been using my action lists for things I'll do sometime. Your quote, Darla, suggests I need to be using those list for just those things I plan to do within a week. That could make all the difference. of course it also means a long 'someday maybe' list.

                The other challenge for me, is I habitually overestimate what I can achieve in a set time frame - by about double!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by wordsman
                  I'll also think about how to split up my @PC list. The thing is, i work for myself, from home. So I'm usually at my desk, with internet etc. And that list tends to have tasks for client projects so they need to happen and can't really go to Someday maybe.

                  Of course, perhaps if there's a mega list that must happen, maybe I just have too much and need to find ways to delegate - it suggest that I'm not doing things that clients are adking. not good for business.

                  Any other thoughts?
                  I think there's no need in splitting @PC context in your case because it could become "devised". Play with Someday list instead.

                  Regards,

                  Eugene.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I just had the same problem myself. I had too many things gathered in my @Action lists and it got to be overwhelming, too hard to scan on a daily basis. I just took those things that were not as immediate as I originally thought and moved them to Someday/Maybe. I can still look back over them in a review, but they're off of the immediate radar for now.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I've been re-working my list today. @ PC could split into client work (writing) and other stuff. Would that work within GTD? Client work always has to come first - so I'd be suggesting a priority there. But if I don't have the energy for that, I could turn to my other @PC list. Sound sensible?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wordsman
                        Sound sensible?
                        That seems like a creative and useful way to split your lists.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wordsman
                          I've been re-working my list today. @ PC could split into client work (writing) and other stuff. Would that work within GTD? Client work always has to come first - so I'd be suggesting a priority there. But if I don't have the energy for that, I could turn to my other @PC list. Sound sensible?
                          Yes.

                          But in addition, IMO you need to schedule times to work on these writing tasks. Most writers I know schedule times to write. This may seem to violate the "hard landscape" rule, but writing tasks may not get done if you passively wait for time available and then scan a long list of NAs. It is too easy to do other tasks all day long, yet fail to feel productive because of the nagging knowledge that important projects still need your attention.

                          Instead, create a "soft landscape" calendar category for these scheduled chunks of time for writing projects. Mine are color-coded to easily differentiate them from hard landscape appointments. If you schedule a hard landscape appointment during one of your usual writing times, you know that you either have to re-schedule that writing time, or else get less writing done that week.

                          For example, during a review I identify what writing projects/tasks need to move forward next week. I also have a schedule of writing every day 10-12 and 2-4. Monday at 10 AM, I could try to work from a list of writing-type NAs. However, it does not make sense to do a small action for one project, then a small action for another project, etc. In my experience this is not how writing projects progress. So I would look at the @PC-Client Work list just to remind myself which client project to work on now. Then I get out my project support material for that project, which happens to contain an outline of the work I've already done, making it much easier to get started.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Yes, I've often blocked out time to write. But I never stick to it. I've been working for myself 2.5yrs now, and for the first yeat I tried to write from 8-1, leaving the rest of the day to do admin, meetings etc. But it never worked. Not even once.

                            Then I worked out that messing about, or procrastinating, seems to be part of the process. So I often tot up a good days work with half an hours writing here, an hour there.

                            One other question. David doesn't think tying projects to next actions is needed. But that feels strange to me. it feels like the action list is floating free of the projects list. Anyone have thoughts on that.

                            And thanks for your advice so far - it's all really helpful.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wordsman
                              Yes, I've often blocked out time to write. But I never stick to it. I've been working for myself 2.5yrs now, and for the first yeat I tried to write from 8-1, leaving the rest of the day to do admin, meetings etc. But it never worked. Not even once.

                              Then I worked out that messing about, or procrastinating, seems to be part of the process. So I often tot up a good days work with half an hours writing here, an hour there.
                              If you are satisfied with your writing productivity and don't avoid looking at NA lists with writing tasks on them, then you don't need to change a thing.

                              Originally posted by wordsman
                              One other question. David doesn't think tying projects to next actions is needed. But that feels strange to me. it feels like the action list is floating free of the projects list. Anyone have thoughts on that.

                              And thanks for your advice so far - it's all really helpful.
                              I like having links between projects and actions. There have been many discussions on this forum about different ways to do that.

                              Comment

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