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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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Mike's picture

Luisa/Laura: schedule in time for...

Luisa/Laura: schedule in time for interruptions then too. I'm a system adminstrator at a university, I basically support directly about 20 faculty and 65 grad students (we have 60 / 200 or so total, and the rest are "allowed" to talk to me too), as well as the occasional staff member question. Basically, I get interrupted a lot, so I know where you're coming from - but if you allow some percentage of your time (only you can say how much is appropriate, but I go with 30-40%) for interruptions, I find that helps. I also schedule such that if I think a task will take me 30 minutes uninterrupted, I schedule it for 45 minutes or an hour. Not perfect, but it helps. I've also learned that most people don't take it personally if you tell them "sorry, I can't do that right now, but how about at 1pm?" sorts of things.

If they do take something like that personally, you've got problems that no amount of scheduling or GTD in the world can help you with.




An Oblique Strategy:
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