David, a college student, asked: I know David Allen says that it’s acceptable to place “pending” projects onto a Someday Maybe list. I have several outcomes that are “one-shot deals.” However, I can’t move on then right now. Can I place them on my Someday Maybe list?
Coach Kelly Forrister: My Someday Maybe is mixed with possible actions and possible projects. Anything from writing to an old friend to hiking Machu Pichu. So feel free to put anything on Someday Maybe as a place to capture it. Just be sure to review it in your Weekly Reviews (or regularly) to trust you’re seeing what’s in there.
I keep two “Future project lists”. The first is called “Later” and it’s for projects I will activate as soon as my schedule allows it. The second one is for the “maybe someday stuff” (ex: Learn Italian). I prefer to separate them because I don’t look at them the same way and because I review the first list more often.
For me Someday/Maybe list means:
“Catch the idea, before it flyes away, but right down only those ideas, that could be a real goal, someday”.
If it’s something that’s definite but not possible right now, I would “defer” it to the Waiting list, or file it in the Tickler for when it IS possible.
I run a “someday soon” alongside my “someday maybe” which holds a smaller list of things I do intend to do soon but not now.
This means my “someday maybe” list (huge) can be reviewed as I feel like it without it hiding tasks I have a greater commitment to thanks “maybe”.
Non standard but it works.
I think of the someday maybe folder as a master task list. With this thought in mind it allows me to place future tasks, thoughts etc. in a folder which I will review during my weekly review. With this thought in mind I am confident that I have captured everything in a place which is reviewed weekly, therefore; not getting misplaced somewhere on the computer.
Someday/Maybe (S/M) is not just for “blue sky” or “dream” projects; it’s for *any* goal, project or next action that you are not committed to achieving or doing right now.
It’s *not* a parking lot for unprocessed stuff; never take something from your inbasket and slap it on this list clarifying what the outcome. If you do you’ll get allergic to this list really fast, then you’ll stop reviewing it, then the domino effect that ends with falling off the GTD wagon begins.
At any given time you may have to move items from the active lists to S/M, but you don’t have to overdo it. For example, if an active project’s lynch-pin next action is on the calendar two weeks away I don’t move it to S/M. I’m still committed to doing it. However, if some event totally shuffles my priorities and I can’t commit to making any progress on a project for more than a couple of weeks then I move it to S/M.
I disagree a bit with idea that someday maybe items require a clear outcome. I use mine as a parking lot for all sorts of ideas, some are more well defined than others. When I make a project active that is when the outcome must be clear. Before that it’s perfectly ok for me to have them very undefined. I have all sorts of items on my someday list without clear outcomes.
I agree that it is OK to put items on a Someday/Maybe List that you may never actually complete. There’s a psychological freedom in knowing that an idea is captured and that you can look back on it but don’t have to actually take action. I find the same thing is true for having a “to read” e-mail folder for interesting articles that I never actually have to read.
Also, Very Important Note: If you put something on your Someday/Maybe list that will need to be done by a deadline, be sure to put a reminder in your calendar. Months can quickly fly by and you don’t want to forget to move it onto your next actions project list!
To your brilliance!
I’ve really struggled with this. (I’m a singer-songwriter/mom.) I got to attend a work-in-progress seminar with David Allen once and he told me I had more items on my lists than anyone he’d ever seen! That shocked me, because he works with super-busy Fortune 500 executives who must have more to do than I do. I have trouble reconciling what he said with the concept of “ubiquitous capture” – i.e. if I’m supposed to capture *everything*, it’s going to be a lot of things! And it also occurred to me that those busy executives have entire staffs they can delegate many of their tasks to – staffs that an indie musician doesn’t have.
So I’ve been learning to make much better use of someday/maybe, but it’s still a challenge for my next action lists not to fill up. I have a lot a varied commitments.
Like some of you, above, I’ve separated my lists into “active,” “someday” and “Maybe.” That helps. I like the idea, above, of calling it “someday soon.” My gut feeling is that the reason my lists get too large is that I’ve struggled with really doing the weekly review weekly. If I really do that, theoretically I can push more stuff off the “active” list because I’ll be checking what comes next more often.
This really is a practice that takes a long time to truly master! I’ve been doing it for years and totally rely on it, and I still feel I’m learning how to make it work.
I find having a Someday Tasks list handy. I use it quite a lot.
Whenever a new task presents itself, I analyze it according to the Decision Matrix. If I consider it important but not urgent, I put it in my Someday Tasks list (if, however, it can become critical in the next couple of days, then it goes directly into my to-do list).
Every weekend, I go through my Someday Tasks list, and
– eliminate the ones that become obsolete
– transfer into my to-do list for the next week, the ones I consider necessary to do now
– delegate the ones I can
– leave the rest in my Someday Tasks list
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