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Where do the urgent things go ?

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  • Where do the urgent things go ?

    Something I've never quite understood with GTD is where do the urgent things go? An example from last weekend. We realise that out son needs a dental appointment asap to get a mouthguard fitted. So I really should do this first thing Monday. What context is this? I tend to deal with these by keeping a "things I have to do today" list but that seems not how GTD is supposed to work.

    Thanks - Michael

  • #2
    Hi, mmurray!

    First off, keeping a "things to do today" list is OK. I think a LOT of us do that. In fact, I just heard David Allen in a Connect webinar say he does this, too, so, if the man himself says go for it, why not.

    Tickler files, if you use them regularly and consistently, are a GREAT place for reminders like the mouthguard. I look at my next day's folder the night before and create a list for the day based on those notes. If I see "call dentist re: mouthguard" then I know it has to happen the next day.
    As an aside, our daughter does martial arts and has braces. Her dentist did a mold of her mouth with braces and had a custom guard made. It was a disaster. (Actually, the whole practice was a disaster and she ended up having them removed and put on by an orthodontist instead of her dentist who "did braces" - ugh. Poor kid.) So if your son has braces, don't get the molded ones because their teeth MOVE in braces! Her orthodontist gave her a very basic one that she loves... I can find out the brand if you or anyone else is interested.
    So, to your point about how GTD is supposed to work: built into the GTD system are ways to handle the three kinds of work you have...

    Defining your work (processing a note from your son's coach saying he needs a mouthguard into your tickler or next action errands list)

    Pre-defined work (you see that "get a mouthguard" is on your errands list and you run the errand or plan when you're going to run it)

    Work As It Appears (your son says he needs a mouthguard a.s.a.p.)

    That third one is where your urgent item fell into the system. That said, really, really urgent things like a snake bite or a car crash handle themselves, don't they? I mean, you just handle them, and everything else waits, right?!

    Hope all that rambling helps a little!



    • #3
      As I understand "how GTD is supposed to work," you have a few options.

      This can be a project or a single item.

      NA: @Home: Find out what time dental office opens on Monday [via internet, Rolodex, phone book, or calling (so then it's @Call)].
      Plans: After determining when office opens, add to calendar an item to call office 10 minutes after it opens on Monday (if it's open on Monday).
      Single Item: (assuming that you already know what time to call on Monday).
      Add to calendar an item to call office 10 minutes after it opens on Monday.
      If you won't be able to determine over the weekend the time to call on Monday, you instead have an NA that is @Call: get dental appointment (not doable until Monday).
      How's that sound?



      • #4
        I would put it into my calendar, for Monday, for 9.00 to make a dentist appointment. This is priority.


        • #5
          Thanks everybody for the advice. I guess I had been avoiding the calendar as a repository thinking this was a "to do". But really it could be thought as an appointment for me to make the phone call at that time. So next time I'll do that and just stick it in the calendar.

          Probably still keep my list of day items


          PS Dena. We had the mouthguard + braces problem with the first son. The dentist supplied some big chunky plastic thing. The youngest son hasn't needed braces. Unlike my other son he had the good sense to choose to inherit my jaw not my wife's .


          • #6
            I would put it in the calendar since it has to happen at a specific day and time. If it was less urgent, just needed to happen during the week, I'd put it into the next-action list so I would remember it and then do it when it was convenient.


            • #7
              Yep, my take on the use of calendar is that it is for immovable, 'have to' things. These usually take the form of meetings, but can also be specific phone calls, etc.


              • #8
                For me, this would be an under two-minute next action called, "Call orthodontist for appointment."

                Because presumably, the orthodontist may not be able to see you exactly when you want him to.

                So when it shows up, and you're in processing mode, boom. As long as it's normal business hours, pick up the phone and call. Unless you know for a fact it's going to take eons, this is the kind of NA that really isn't even worth tracking for me.

                If you can't make the call for some reason until some specified time (maybe you're like me and find yourself processing at 1AM), either throw it on your calendar or in your tickler file for the first possible time you could do it.


                • #9
                  due dates
                  Bam! problem solved.
                  or calendar if it has a specific time range.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for all the thoughts. This wasn't a 2 minute job I could do immediately as the need arose on the weekend when the dentist was shut. But it was a "do as soon as the dentist is open" job as appointments are hard to get and minimising the number of games my son plays without the mouthguard is obviously important. So on the calendar for 9.00 am Monday is the correct solution for me. I was just being a bit wary of putting non-appointments on the calendar. Tickler wouldn't have worked for me as I don't check it every day.

                    Thanks again - Michael


                    • #11
                      This is an implementation-dependent issue. I use software that supports multiple choices: calendar, todo with due date, todo flagged as important. All of these would ensure I saw the next action tomorrow. I would probably flag it if I wanted to do it tomorrow but it could slip a little.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mmurray View Post
                        So on the calendar for 9.00 am Monday is the correct solution for me. I was just being a bit wary of putting non-appointments on the calendar.
                        For some reason this is one of those GTD things that a lot of people don't pick up on immediately.

                        Three things go on your calendar:
                        * time-specific actions;
                        * day-specific actions; and
                        * day-specific information.
                        	-GTD, page 39
                        The third item there is the one people seem to miss. "Monday 9am -- orthodontist opens - [phone number]" is perfectly fine as day-specific information. Fits on the calendar just as well as "Labour Day" does.