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To-Done: Scheduling tasks

How I learned to stop worrying and love my schedule

This is an intriguing idea. Peter converts his to-dos into scheduled blocks of work.

I now schedule EVERYTHING. As a result, very little gets missed. I’m still using next-actions, but I’ve added the step of mapping them out on upcoming weeks. This way, I can relax, knowing that I’m going to get them done.

If you’re reading this and thinking “so freakin’ what?” you’re probably not alone, but some of the GTD acolytes in the house might be hollering “Blasphemer!” since David Allen often suggests using your calendar only for “hard landscape” items, such as appointments with others, while leaving to-dos as “when you can” items that get knocked off as time, energy, and context allows.

But, the idea is really quite sound for someone like me (and most of the people I know). If you handle all your own work and scheduling (a/k/a “don’t have a ‘real’ job”), it’s entirely up to you to choose and do all the tasks on your theoretically unlimited lists. Giving yourself timed assignments like these seems like a potentially smart way to ensure that your stuff is getting done when you think it should.

Since you put the tasks in there, you’re certainly entitled to remove them as well, right? You’re just making some modest paper walls to give a shape to something that’s often frustratingly formless. Neat idea.

I continue to admire and enjoy how people are adapting the patterns of GTD without hewing slavishly to every syllable of the book.

This is a terrific example of how one pattern (“get it all down”) might seemingly contradict another (“calendar is hard landscape only”). Of course, they’re not really contradictory at all unless you choose to treat Allen’s suggestions as an operator’s manual or fundamentalist Productivity Bible. While that approach is useful for getting started with a system like GTD, it does seem valuable to let the ideas evolve and adapt into something that better comports with your own needs.

Edit 2005-08-18 09:35:25 - The referenced To-Done post was by Peter Flaschner not Keith Robinson. Sorry for the error (and thanks, Jay).

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Lou Reynaldo's picture

Is this method really non-canonical...

Is this method really non-canonical GTD?

Somewhere, near the end, in David's Epistle to the Geeks is a chapter on choosing/deciding what work to do at a given moment. In it he provides a spectrum of methods from planning out the day to letting it come one moment at time. It is not non-canonical to plan every minute of your day, nor is it non-canonical to put only meeting times and deadlines in your calendar.

The David points out that factors such as context, amount of time and one's energy level should be considered in selecting your next action.

I use a blend, leaning to work on the "minimalist - hard edge" calendar approach. It allows me to consider other factors such as location/context and, more importantly, my energy level so I can select the appropriate next action. I like having the calendar only for marking out day/time specfic tasks. I like having the control to use the remaining time as I see best uses my resources and energy.

The underlying philosophy is to permit yourself to choose and do the right next action in the moment AND not to act on other next actions. This permission must also grant you the release of any anxiety that the other next actions may be dropped, forgotten or lost. Your trusted systems and workflow of collecting, processing, organizing, reviewing and doing stuff will ensure that those next actions will get their proper consideration.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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