Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.

Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Calendared items are becoming to-do lists

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Calendared items are becoming to-do lists

    I am extremely busy all the time and a lot of my work is time-critical. To address this I have been inserting two levels of "do today" items in my calendar (which happens to be Outlook using the official Netcentrics add-in) - "MUST do today" and "SHOULD do today"; I colour them red and yellow respectively - green when complete.

    This seemed a neat system when I started but it seems to be undermining the recommended next-action way of working. The problem is that by the time I've done my "MUSTS" and then eventually got through my "SHOULDS" (if I'm lucky) there is no time left to look at the N/As in their various contexts. In effect, these "MUSTS" and "SHOULDS" are becoming daily to-do lists which DA specifically says to avoid. He also advocates "hard edges" in the trusted system to make it more trustworthy and I'm not sure that I should be softening the edges with "SHOULD do today" items in the calendar.

    I've never quite got my head around the intuitive method of using N/As and have difficulty trusting them because of the time-critical nature of so many of my actions.

    Oh, and I should also confess that due to overwork I have been missing a lot of weekly reviews.

    Has anybody else experienced anything like this?

    Howard
    Last edited by Howard; 03-17-2007, 10:56 AM.

  • #2
    Hi Howard.

    How do you define MUSTS and SHOULDS?

    The way I understand what should be on your calendar (if anything) are your MUSTS for the day. These could be appointments (as calendar items) or notes of things you MUST do that day (at some point during the day) as all-day events.

    But unless SHOULD's also fit that description, then they shouldn't be on the calendar at all. They should be in your lists of NA's which you then review after you do the MUSTS during any other discretionary time that you have.

    Now maybe you could flag the SHOULDs too just so they show up more clearly and nothing falls though the cracks, but that's another issue.

    Sometimes, when we have too much to do, its impossible to get everything done in the day and that's where I find the lists quite useful. It allows me to look at my inventory of work and immediately see what really is important and what can wait that bit longer.

    For peace of mind - less stress - are there any items on the list that you would feel more comfortable renegotiating with yourself or others as to the timescale of delivery - i.e. can you put them on your someday/maybe instead?

    Paul

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Paul

      Thanks for the reply.

      MUST = Absolutely must i.e. a problem arises if it doesn't get done today.

      SHOULD = is of lesser value if done after today but not critically so.

      What bothers me, I guess, about allowing SHOULDS to be kept away from the calendar is that they are easier to lose track of. Also, whilst on the calendar, they can be part of an integrated, ordered list (that pesky "to-do" thing again). If you have to go looking for the next, next action in a list it just seems to break the flow.

      The system I'm using is still giving me direct control of the assigned tasks but I also feel like I'm missing the essence of GTD.

      Howard
      Last edited by Howard; 03-16-2007, 03:32 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Converting SHOULDs to MUSTs.

        During the Weekly Review you have to check if you should convert any pending SHOULDs (on your lists) to MUSTs because of the deadlines.

        Comment


        • #5
          I had the same problem when I put all actions on the Calendar. I thought that if the Project has no nature deadline then I should guess it myself. So lots of actions appeared on the Calendar.

          I just learned to differ real deadlines from artificial. Try to get that. Here are some of my examples what goes to the Calendar.

          My Calendar for monday: meetings with staff in the morning, customer X meeting (promised) somewhere this day, business lunch with customer Y (he comes from another city), get theatre tickets delivered during business hours.

          Comment


          • #6
            Weaning myself off to-do lists

            As Borisoff says, it is about differentiating real deadlines from the artificial. But, when your work is intensively busy you tend to cram in as many time-critical actions as possible to a day (knowing that they will have a lower value tomorrow) and this is where my urge to define SHOULDS comes from. Now, what I haven't got my head around is: why is leaving these SHOULDS along with the "COULDS" in Next-Action lists by context (not by deadline) the right thing to do? I'm used to putting everything in one single, planned, daily list and stopping doing that goes against the grain; it feels as though I'm relinquishing control unnecessarily.

            At another level, I'm confident that the GTD system must be superior to the "extended calendar" method I'm using - the book says so and all you experienced folks are successfully operating that way. What I'd like to know is how you retain not just control but the feeling of control when all your tasks are spread around the system in different contextual lists. And what is it, in GTD, which replaces and improves on to-do list planning?

            I hope this makes sense.

            Howard

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Howard View Post
              What I'd like to know is how you retain not just control but the feeling of control when all your tasks are spread around the system in different contextual lists. And what is it, in GTD, which replaces and improves on to-do list planning?

              I hope this makes sense.

              Howard
              For me, the essence of the contextual lists is to promote focus (in whatever context you find yourself). So, to simplify, I ONLY have to look at my @home list when I'm at home, because I CANNOT physically DO anything about my @work list. I then am able to crank through a bunch of @home items, because my focus isn't split between ALL possible next actions (project and non-project oriented).

              As far as project thinking goes, I have (for the more complicated projects), support paperwork, memos, etc. that give me the big picture of what needs to happen next. I can review my Project List as many times a day as I'd like (especially if I have some due dates looming); but the weekly review is KEY for me to identify every single doable next action on every single one of my projects. There's a reason that this is the lynchpin of the whole system. Only in doing that can I trust my context lists. And when I DO do that, I can then happily crank away on the list that's appropriate to the context in which I find myself; thereby improving my focus, and moving things forward in a POWERFUL way. I'm not HAVING to second-guess what I should be doing; I've already DONE that thinking in my weekly review. (And, for what it's worth, a lot of people find it helpful to do a mini-review at the end of the day, or at the beginning of the day; just to make sure nothing's going to bite them on the a*$...!)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Howard View Post
                Now, what I haven't got my head around is: why is leaving these SHOULDS along with the "COULDS" in Next-Action lists by context (not by deadline) the right thing to do?
                Here's a thought, but it'll only really hold if you know what your work is ahead of time. If you've got a job that's like an emergency room, where you never know what's about to come in the door, it's harder.

                Try paring down your "Coulds", because it doesn't sound like you've got much time to do them. When I do my weekly review, I decide which projects I'll have time to work on over the next week: the rest go into my Ignoring tray, to be steadfastly ignored for a week. That way, I'm focused on fewer things, I know the extent of my committments, and if by some miracle I get through everything before the end of the week, well, the Ignoring tray is still within arm's reach.

                How you handle committments is really dependent on what sort of work you do: is it production of goods (including intangibles) for customers? Is it service provision? Is it emergency stuff? You really need to know what committments you've made and how much time you have, before you plan your week, otherwise you've got too many things on your plate, which just increases stress.


                Originally posted by Howard View Post
                What I'd like to know is how you retain not just control but the feeling of control when all your tasks are spread around the system in different contextual lists. And what is it, in GTD, which replaces and improves on to-do list planning?
                The feeling of control comes from the habits: the weekly review, the inbox processing, and the daily review. I just quickly check my projects and context lists at the end of each day, so that I know, in the back of my mind, where I'm at with everything at any time. That helps a lot. The weekly review gives an overview of where you are in the entirety of your work and the subset of that you're choosing to focus on for the next week. The inbox processing gives you the fine detail of each project.

                In addition, the context lists let you 'batch' a whole bunch of similar actions for different projects together, so that you can achieve a move forward on several projects at once with minimum effort. This saves time, and gives the feeling of achievement for a variety of projects.

                For me, I don't get the feeling that my Next Actions are spread throughout the system. My system is physically contained, being the arm's reach around my seat at the computer. I have a spot for my context lists, as well as a spot for my Current projects and my In Tray and so on. Electronically, the same holds: a spot for everything, and everything in its spot.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I wrote about "DO on" vs. "Due by" items here, FYI: http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthr...6324#post46324

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thankyou

                    I just want to say thanks to those who responded to my post.

                    It's clear that the key to avoiding such problems is regular review - especially the Weekly Review. As a result of reading the responses and other current relevant threads particularly http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6734 I will be:

                    - Redoubling my effort to have an uninterrupted Weekly Review and daily mini-reviews
                    - Starting to properly get my head around project thinking
                    - Renegotiating my commitments to myself and ruthlessly thinning them down, so that daily next actions that I would class as SHOULDS don't get lost in the huge mass that is currently my list of projects. This way I will not fear that N/As will slip through the cracks and will not therefore feel compelled to place them on the calendar.

                    GTD is certainly an incremental process!
                    Last edited by Howard; 03-25-2007, 01:09 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      These MUST and SHOULD lists are bets. They bet that what's important for today as of 9:00 am will still be what's important for today as of 3:00 pm. More than that, they bet that your judgment of what's important for today will still be correct six hours later.

                      Will your work, the work of your colleagues, and the work of your clients, have any impact at all on your priorities today? I think it's likely.

                      That's why I like the GTD system of not prioritizing. With GTD, I can judge my priorities at the same exact moment when I have time to start working.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Why not hard appointments on the calendar and SHOULDS in the tickler file? Those get reviewed daily but can be moved back as needed, right? Am I oversimplifying?

                        Juno

                        Comment

                        Working...
                        X