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  • Daily Short List

    I have been enjoying playing around with the idea of the short list to help with prioritization lately. David talked about it in the last couple audio podcasts he has put out. When life gets crazy draw from your lists the few crucial items for when you get a few moments during a wall to wall day.

    Has anyone else played around the the idea of fully processing in to actions and outcomes, and then creating temporary "scaffolding" for those days that get crazy?


    Erik

  • #2
    Definitely. Todd Henry of the Accidental Creative talks about his "Big Three" -- at the beginning of each day, he identifies three important things that he commits to complete that day.

    I did this just this morning, and it's certainly a useful way to galvanize one into action. It can turn into a crutch, though (the dangers of prioritizing within your system, and all that), so I only do it rarely.

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    • #3
      List your "Most Important Tasks"

      Prioritization -- an important time management habit, that comes in handy especially on days when you've just got too many things cooking all at once.

      Having a list of next actions for your projects is nice. But sometimes you need to prioritize these tasks by deciding what's most important for you to get done right now. I think being able to confidently prioritize tasks is a skill that some people are better at doing than others, but the more you practice doing this, the better you get at it.

      One thing that helps me to get moving on getting things done is to make a short list of the 3 most important tasks (MIT) to be tackled for TODAY. Your MIT list is very much like a daily to-do list, but unlike the typical to-do list which can often become unwieldly, your MIT list is short and highly focused: it contains only the three things you want to do most and which you get done FIRST. Do them as early as possible in your day. Anything extra you get done is pure gravy.

      It's really helpful to name your list "Most Important Tasks" rather than calling it "To Do". This helps to get you more focused on starting.

      And I also find that giving my list the all-too-generic title of "To-Do List" makes me feel some resistance to the items on the list... like a rebellious little boy, who feels like I "have to" or "must" do all the things on my list or else...!!! Whereas my prioritized list of "most important tasks" makes me feel more in control and empowered at a gut level. Because in drawing up this kind of daily list it forces me to ask myself myself WHY doing these (three) things is important to me.

      Awareness. I think that's important.

      You're more likely to do something, no matter how big or small that something may be, if you can understand why it really matters to you to do it.
      Last edited by WebMarketer; 01-13-2009, 03:21 PM.

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      • #4
        OmniFocus has a flagging feature that is handy for this. You can just run through the NA's that are urgent and flag them. Then you can just look at the list of flagged NA's.

        Michael

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        • #5
          Originally posted by gtderik View Post
          I have been enjoying playing around with the idea of the short list to help with prioritization lately. David talked about it in the last couple audio podcasts he has put out. When life gets crazy draw from your lists the few crucial items for when you get a few moments during a wall to wall day.

          Has anyone else played around the the idea of fully processing in to actions and outcomes, and then creating temporary "scaffolding" for those days that get crazy?

          Erik
          I have been toying around with the idea for some time now, and have tried a few approaches. Earlier I used to select a few actions for the day. This obviously had the problem that DA himself keeps pointing out: new inputs can blow this up. So I started calling it my 'in-focus' action list, and these were the first action choices that I would consider doing, as far as new inputs don't change the scene. Currently I have found out a better alternative: I maintain an 'in-focus' checklist which contains a few projects or milestones of bigger projects rather than actions. In a way it's the goals I am setting for myself for this week, but even that is not correct; it keeps on changing according to the inputs. The 'in-focus' section of my office actions list still exists, but I am now more confident as to what actions to put there. Also I make it a point during my weekly review to shuffle in-focus list if necessary as to balance various areas of responsibility.

          My projects list is still projects list: a list of commitments, separate from someday-maybe. The in-focus list is an additional list to get priority decisions off my mind, but I constantly keep in mind that it is not hard and fast, it is just a convenience, and it can change at a moment's notice.

          Depending upon the context/time/energy, I am also able to move forward other projects which are not 'in-focus', since the corresponding actions are still on my actions lists. The 'in-focus' section of my lists is just the first to look at for choices, not the only one.

          I think the problem is that at higher levels from projects upwards we know our priorities, because these things change relatively slowly. The actions list moves very fast, and it's a huge effort every time to look at a list of 100 actions and make choices from structurally equal-looking choices. So my solution of the 'in-focus' list at a level higher than actions is just a convenient and flexible structure to make the choice quicker for me. Now I feel quite confident that it will work for a considerable time without further tweaks.

          Hope a few others find this useful.

          Regards,
          Abhay

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          • #6
            A daily focus (I like the phrase MIT) list of 3 to 5 items helps me tremendously. The list is really varied, sometimes listing tasks, a project or two, a context I want to work on (such as @program). I "dispose" of the list each evenings and generate a new one mornings after checking my NAs. It's primary function is to just show what needs to be on top, so that I can come back to earth after getting engrossed in something.

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            • #7
              The action lists are the shortcut to re-remembering what to do. Instead of computing the data (again), you take a look on your lists. The in-focus/MIT lists are the shortcut to re-remembering which items you wish to touch today. Instead of computing the data again, you take a look on your lists.

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              • #8
                Hi!

                Instead of picking some actions to prioritize per day I like to pick 3 projects pr. week that I really would like to move forward during the following week. I do weekly review during the weekend. I have tried making a daily short list og next actions, but tend to drift of my next actions list when these are completed. It makes me feel satisfied with what I have done that day, and start procrastinating.

                Instead I print out a sheet with 3 projects, preferably larger ones, written in big letters and hang it on the outside of my office door.

                Now, what happens when all of them are completed on, say thursday, I don't know, never happened wo far. I'm afraid I would feel very good on friday, but probably wouldn't get much done.

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                • #9
                  Check ZTD.

                  Check ZTD (Zen To Done) methodology by Leo Babauta.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gtderik View Post
                    Has anyone else played around the the idea of fully processing in to actions and outcomes, and then creating temporary "scaffolding" for those days that get crazy?
                    I do it from time to time, using either a small pad or adding "must to" items to my electronic calendar as an "all day" event.

                    Of course the dangers of these approaches is that you slip back into daily "to do" list's and the items get perpetually rolled over.

                    - Don

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                    • #11
                      I've done this from time to time. Sometimes, I get easily distracted by action items that don't need to be done right then, so it's helpful to filter out only the things I need to do at the moment. I don't do anything fancy, just a few short notes on an index card, crossing them off when I'm done. When I finish the list, I go to my action item and cross them off the "master" list. It's not an everyday thing, but it does help you to focus when it's needed.

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                      • #12
                        a great practice

                        I do it, I teach it, and it's an effective way to both control action overload, and to focus your day. I like it the night before, but first thing in the morning is fine too.

                        Re: MIT, I suggest picking one HIT (High Impact Task plus a mixture of fun, important, easy, hard, etc.

                        Re: Project focus, I like Mark Forster's Current Initiative idea. It's over the span of a week or so, and its action is the first order of business in the day.

                        More generally this comes under the category of "What is a good workday?" I find sticking to my plan as much as possible leads to a satisfying day.

                        More on the process here, FYI:

                        A Daily Planning Experiment: Two Weeks Of Accountable Rigorous Action
                        http://matthewcornell.org/2008/05/a-...us-action.html

                        Happy planning!

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                        • #13
                          This is a good strategy

                          I do it as well, usually first thing in the morning. I just go through my next action list and place a star by things that absolutely have to get done that day. It helps me when I want to procrastinate to tackle those high payoff items first.

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                          • #14
                            I now believe creating a daily plan (AKA your "Short List") is an absolutely necessity. I experimented with it [1] and will never, ever go back. I argued in 10 GTD "holes" (and How To Plug Them) that it addresses one of GTD's limitations. (Intentionally provocative

                            [1] A Daily Planning Experiment: Two Weeks Of Accountable Rigorous Action

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                            • #15
                              It's just a belief...

                              Originally posted by cornell View Post
                              I now believe creating a daily plan (AKA your "Short List") is an absolutely necessity.
                              It's just a belief...

                              In GTD you should put "things you must do on a given day" in your calendar. But there is no need to create a separate list of things that might be done on a given day.

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