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Answering the "When" question

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  • Answering the "When" question

    Greetings,

    In a slow pace I am moving forward with integration of GTD into my routine. The "collection" process works fine - nothing goes unnoticed, and everything gets organized into projects and actions and contexts. To be honest, this is where I've stuck. I can "review" as much as I want, but the actual "acting" is dictated by others. I know it's totally my fault - even armed with GTD technology I am not able to get in control.

    The problem is, I am not able to give a honest answer to the question "When can you do it?".
    With all my neatly organized lists that are not tied up to a "hard landscape" calendar, I have no clue what I'll be doing on a certain date and when it will be done.

    I've tried to analyze the pattern of the last few weeks:
    • I organize my projects and tasks. Following GTD philosophy I am not putting things on the hard landscape calendar. Except for a few things that somebody has been waiting for for a long time and that really should be done soon; so I schedule them to be first on my list.
    • So I am starting to work on those things that can't wait, and than I am getting request from another people to finish tasks that they are being waiting for. I feel guilty (the other task has been on the list for a while too), so I schedule that to be the next.
    • During work, I get some new questions / requests. There are 3 types of request:
      a) the request does not contain a due / wish date. My answer is than like "ok, I'll look at it". Most of the time the person responds with the b) request.
      b) the request contain a question "WHEN". My first answer is a date as far as possible ahead. Usually it's not an option, so the follow up is the type c) request with that person's due / wish date.
      c) the request does contain a due date / whishdate. I look at my lists, push things without a due date back, and find the closest possible space for the requested due date.
    • Everything repeats.

    So as I result, the deadlines are dictated by the others. You can say - maybe it's the nature of your work? Well, partly yes of course - I am self-employed (web)developer. But I am sure that I could take control of at least 50% of the situations if I had a clear view of the schedule ahead. And the only way I can see right now to accomplish it, is scheduling everything. And this is sooo non-GTD.

    Help?

  • #2
    I'd say go ahead and schedule it. There's nothing wrong with having a schedule. Your lists will enable you to schedule and do the scheduled work without anything falling between the cracks.
    And don't feel bad about not being able to get in control even with GTD - I guess most of us could say the same. Real life is something you cannot really get in control of, especially if you have to deal with creatures like kids, dogs and customers.

    Comment


    • #3
      My two euro-cents!

      Are you a self-employee?
      Does it means you earn, depending on the quality of the service you offer?
      If yes, do you have a business plan?
      Did you define which are the goals for this year?
      Would you consider to delegate hiring an help?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by verona View Post
        But I am sure that I could take control of at least 50% of the situations if I had a clear view of the schedule ahead. And the only way I can see right now to accomplish it, is scheduling everything. And this is sooo non-GTD.
        I think you need a project called "develop system for scheduling workflow"

        So what's your next action on that?

        Seriously, does your system allow you to track the time estimates for various jobs? It seems like if you knew what was on your plates, i.e. 10 tasks totaling 19 hours, for example, you could look at your "real" hard landscape and your 19 hours of tasks, and the number of hour per day you are willing to work, and come up with some pretty good estimates.

        Another part of the process should be to track the actual time spent, so you know if your estimates need some tweaking.

        - Don

        Comment


        • #5
          What Don said. If you're going to survive as a self-employed person, you MUST get a handle on how long things take. If you're that busy, you need to be able to tell clients when you can do it, instead of promising it whenever they want it. (Which will always be as soon as possible.)

          Also, if you're that overwhelmed, raise your rates. If no one ever gets sticker shock, you aren't charging enough. (Yes, I know there's a recession on. If you're *still* overwhelmed in a recession, you *really* aren't charging enough.)

          Katherine

          Comment


          • #6
            RE: Scheduling work

            Originally posted by verona View Post
            ... the only way I can see right now to accomplish it, is scheduling everything. And this is sooo non-GTD.

            Help?
            I can't remember which teleseminar right now, but DA said in response to a question about when to get the big single NAs done (like writing a report's annual review) that sometimes scheduling is necessary, especially when that NA is going to take an hour or more. In light of that advice, I would suggest scheduling things to stay on top of your game. Don't lose the view of the forest in an effort to hug all the trees in just the right way. The point of GTD is to get things done in a way that they are off your mind to allow you to be unencumbered with trying to juggle your system in your head and, thus, more creative and open to inspiration. If getting to that "mind like water" means you have to lay out the work on a calendar, estimating the numbers of hours of each job and plotting out a Gantt chart sense of your workload, I say do it. Your work is built around the calendar with all its deadlines. I encourage you to use the calendar to your advantage and not let a literal interpretation of GTD keep you bound up.

            J

            Comment


            • #7
              This is actually one of the major issues I'm having, executing tasks that require a lot of time.

              I hope this does not hijack the thread, but I have a question that ties in with the OP's issue. For tasks that require a significant amount of time, say "plan for monthly performance meeting", would you enter that into the calendar as a task or as a specified appointment? I ask, because my Blackberry is what drives my GTD method, but I cannot specify lengths of time for tasks.

              Thanks!
              Mike

              Comment


              • #8
                The right time

                This is an important point. Really important, at least for me!

                Too many times people, pushed by their optimism don't evaluate the right quantity of time required.

                Can you please....Yes sure, you are welcome! too many times you can slip on a banna peel, like this....and after that, you realize how could be better process it correctly.....
                • Collect
                • Process
                • Organize

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re:

                  "For tasks that require a significant amount of time, say "plan for monthly performance meeting", would you enter that into the calendar as a task or as a specified appointment? I ask, because my Blackberry is what drives my GTD method, but I cannot specify lengths of time for tasks."

                  I would enter it as two, possibly three, possibly more, things. Since I use software rather than hand-written lists, it's easy for me to have so many actions.

                  The performance meeting would be a hard-landscape appointment.

                  Planning for the performance meeting would be a separate action. If it's an action that can be chopped into smaller actions, I'd do that. If it isn't, and it's likely to take more hours than I can do in one or two sittings, then I'll make it a repeating task - for example, "Spend one hour planning for monthly performance meeting", repeating daily.

                  If I don't trust myself to evaluate how it's all going and whether I'll be ready in time, I might also have a third action, placed on some appropriate date, called, "Evaluate whether I'll be ready for performance meeting." This may seem redundant with the "Spend one hour..." task, but for me it's not. While I'm working, any worry about whether I'll be done in time is very distracting and makes me less productive. Knowing that I have a planned time to do that worrying is likely to make me less distracted.

                  Gardener

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