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  • Next Actions with deadlines

    Apologies in advance if the answer to this question is obvious or if I've misunderstood something basic - I'm a GTD newbie.

    I often have Next Actions that must be completed by a certain date but do not have to be completed on any particular date prior to the due date. These NAs are not connected to a project - they're just stand-alone actions. For example, I have an NA that reads "Print photos of XYZ event." This can be done any time prior to Tuesday but must be done no later than Tuesday morning.

    I'm not sure whether to put this NA on my calendar or on my @Desk context list. If I put it on my calendar, it's sure to get done, however by designating a particular day for it, I lose the go-with-the-flow flexibility that GTD seems to offer. (On the other hand, I guess I could always bump it to the next day if the current day fills up with other things.) If I put it in a context list, it might get lost among the other NAs listed there and not noticed until the deadline has passed. What do you do?

  • #2
    Try this...

    On your @Desk list, write "Print photos of XYZ event by Tuesday".

    Also, on your calendar (on Tuesday), write "Photos of XYZ event due".

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    • #3
      In my recent review of the Outlook White Paper, it instructed Outlook users to set up the Task list with the due date function included as a column item. You could use it for just such actions as you refer to.

      I was also email with Kelly @Davidco and she uses Due Dates with her lists, too.

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      • #4
        re: Due Dates & GTD

        If you are using a paper-based GTD setup it is best to use the calendar for deadlines or to put a mark ">" at the beginning of any item on your contexts lists that may have an upcoming deadline.

        For my own setup I designed for the mac, it automatically color-codes tasks with due dates as the deadline approaches - Yellow at 6 weeks out, Orange at 3 weeks out, and Red when only one week away. Technically GTD doesn't work with due dates since one should be completing the weekly review weekly and thus instinctively working on the tasks that are the most important. But for me, this color-coding works well and keeps things from slipping through the cracks.
        Attached Files
        Last edited by Todd V; 07-01-2011, 11:21 PM.

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        • #5
          I would definately put this on my calendar, as it is time sensitive. Placing it in a timeslot as close to the due date as possible. I say as close as possible because if you are not the initiator of the NA (or even if you are), you may have last minute changes to integrate, as I often see happen. This will avoid any redoing.

          Hope this helps,

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          • #6
            Originally posted by scott.stephen View Post
            ... in a timeslot as close to the due date as possible. I say as close as possible because if you are not the initiator of the NA (or even if you are), you may have last minute changes to integrate, as I often see happen. This will avoid any redoing.
            My experience is the opposite... sometimes changes are the result of actually seeing the output ("oh, I didn't know it would look like THAT!"). The earlier you complete the initial iteration, the less stress you have about any changes that result from seeing the output for the first time.

            In the end, I think you'll need to decide on (a) the likelihood of change after you think you are done, and (b) the potential impact of those changes; then schedule your work accordingly.

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            • #7
              I agree with adding a Next Action that mentions the deadline.

              I have projects with deadlines in my NA lists. I check my NA lists many times each day.

              When I check my NAs, I figure out which one is best to work on at that moment. If I see something that needs to be done soon, I'll give that higher priority at that moment.

              That's what the NA lists are for, after all, right?

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              • #8
                I will try the NA with deadline method and see which one works best for me.

                Thanks

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                • #9
                  Most things with a deadline are either large projects or items with a specific date. I find that putting the deadline date into Outlook's due date it appears on the last possible day I have to compete the next action. That's ok because it's a next action and so shouldn't take me a day to do. If it is, then I haven't done enough thinking or I have to slot time specifically into my calendar.

                  If a NA has a date it is important to understand why.

                  david

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by quantumgardener View Post
                    Most things with a deadline are either large projects or items with a specific date. I find that putting the deadline date into Outlook's due date it appears on the last possible day I have to compete the next action. That's ok because it's a next action and so shouldn't take me a day to do. If it is, then I haven't done enough thinking or I have to slot time specifically into my calendar.

                    If a NA has a date it is important to understand why.

                    david
                    I do this as well. The problem that I am having is that I also use that Due Date field as my tickler file.

                    On a given day, a number of things will come up, some of which are NAs with deadlnes and some of which are tickler reminders.

                    Do you separate the two functions, and, if so, how?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dhlesq View Post
                      I do this as well. The problem that I am having is that I also use that Due Date field as my tickler file.

                      On a given day, a number of things will come up, some of which are NAs with deadlnes and some of which are tickler reminders.
                      Sorry, I'm confused. How is this a problem?

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                      • #12
                        Brent's question is the answer. It's not a problem. GTD is designed to get a mind like water. You will get most, but not every single thing, out of your head. For example, you will have a list of NAs which you prioritise in the moment from resources available, energy levels and intuition. In other words, your brain still does some stuff.

                        With NA and tickler items I trust that on the day I'll know. The item is out of my head until that time and then I think about it. If you have so many that you can't distinguish then look carefully if they should be there - what items can be on a someday maybe and be picked up during a weekly review, or set a simple way of coding them. "T:do this" to denote a tickler entry perhaps. Personally I wouldn't do that because it creates one more thing to manage.

                        David

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                        • #13
                          Good responses.

                          As always, an objective viewpoint makes what seems like a problem not a problem at all.

                          Thanks very much.

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                          • #14
                            Glad to help.

                            David/quantumgardener: That's an excellent distillation of the Next Actions list, far better than anything I've ever managed.

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