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I can't stop planning my day

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  • I can't stop planning my day

    I read GTD a couple of months ago and everything makes wonderful sense, but there is one part that I seem to be struggling with.

    As a self-employed person, with largish stretches of time to my day, I find it hard to keep scanning the lists of NAs. Instead I am still putting todos on my daily calendar (PDA). I find that if I don't I feel too adrift. I don't stress out if I don't get everything done (I usually don't) but putting structure in my day by putting down stakes seems to aid my productivity.

    Anyone else combine the GTD approach with daily planning?

  • #2
    Daily Planning

    I think there are things you have to do (DA says they'll die if you dont) that go on your calendar. I also have a list of things I'd "like" to do that I write down in my UCD (Ubiquitous Capture Device) which for me is a "Black n Red". I may not get them all done but its worth a shot.

    Everything else goes in an NA or Project list.


    • #3
      Scheduling NAs is OK

      I think that there is nothing wrong with scheduling NAs if it does not require too much planning. But if you spend time planning instead of doing NAs - it is a problem.


      • #4
        Daily Task List

        I am still keeping a Daily Task List. Without it I would feel overwhelmed with my work and those endless lists.



        • #5
          The biggest danger for me in this approach is to confuse actions that must be completed today, versus actions that could be completed today, but don't need to be. As long as you have a way to distinguish those (keeping a list separate, etc.), I think it's fine.

          You could also plan your day by blocking off categories of actions. For example, decide to spend 9-10am in the morning making phone calls. Take care of the must-do ones first, then take care of the rest. Afternoons could be computer time, etc. I work as a web developer, so I tend to block off time for projects (though it's just a rough plan in my head - I don't write anything down).

          I use a PDA to track my action lists, calendar, etc. and keep the Palm Desktop open throughout the day. My action lists are in the To-Do application. I don't assign priorities to tasks, so they all default to a priority of 1. Lately, I've started adjusting those priorities to 5 for tasks I want to work on right now - this sorts them to the end of the list (assuming you sort by priority). If I don't get them completed, I change the priority back to 1. This way, I don't really plan out my entire day, but I do take a few minutes to choose a few tasks to work on.


          • #6
            Plan away, and get ready to renegotiate...

            ...I find it hard to keep scanning the lists of NAs.

            Instead I am still putting todos on my daily calendar (PDA). I find that if I don't I feel too adrift. I don't stress out if I don't get everything done (I usually don't) but putting structure in my day by putting down stakes seems to aid my productivity.

            Here's how I think about it:

            On a day-to-day basis, here is an example of someone's routine:

            1) As soon as you're not doing anything else: check your calendar (What HAS to be done today?) Here, I will put down things from my action lists that I really "plan" to do today.

            2) As soon as you have discretionary time (given your calendar):
            - process IN, or
            - check @action lists and pick one to work on, or
            - work ad hoc (do something that is NOT on a list)
            My goal here is to make sure the system is up-to-date every 24-48 hours.

            3) At least once a a weekly review! Make sure you can work within numbers 1) and 2) and be comfortable. Every 7 days, I want to get back to "clean, clear, current, and complete." This means looking at the last 4 weeks, the next 4 weeks, scanning any checklists ("How am I doing with client communications?" etc), reviewing projects/next actions lists, etc.


            • #7
              It took me a long time of using GTD before I gave up writing out a seperate daily to do list. The problem was that I would tend to write out the daily list based on what was in my head rather than what was on in my next action list and would neglect to do a daily review - and things were falling through the cracks. Once I took the plunge and gave up the daily to do list - which took a step of faith - my NA lists became much, much more useful to me.

              I do have a little cheap trick. I keep my NA lists as tasks in Outlook. Something that has helped me give up the daily list is putting a formatting rule that turns NAs that are due today blue and items that are due within 7 days purple. The key do this is to only give it a deadline if it really will die if not done that day - otherwise I don't believe the deadlines. This helps me to scan the list quickly to see what absolutely must get done. Strict GTD would say that that should be on my calendar as part of my hard landscape, but this works for me.


              • #8
                Thanks everyone. I'm the original poster. I keep track of the todo's that ABSOLUTELY must get done today by making them priority 1. Everything else does not have to be done today, but things that I would like to get done are priority 2 or 3. They are still on context-sensitive lists (@Home, @Errands, etc.) which I find tremendously useful, but I simply put a date on those ones I'd like to get done today, and they show up on my "Today" view in Datebk5 on my Palm.

                I think part of my issue is that I am stymied with indecision about what to do if I don't plan ahead of time. The other thing is that it helps me get emotionally ready - if I'm going to be doing @Errands, then I am "geared" up for going out and facing the stores/crowds, whereas if I simply sat down and said, "I've got a chunk of time available, I think I'll go to the office supply store", it's harder for me to shift gears.

                Again, I think this is because I *do* have a lot of discretionary time - I'm not trying to slip in NAs between the cracks of already structured time (meetings, etc.).

                I like the idea of setting time periods for doing @Calls, @Errands, etc. That may help my process out.

                Thanks again.