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calendar play?

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  • calendar play?

    Not sure what to call it, but before adopting GTD one of my main effective strategies was just playing around with different sequences of action across time on the calendar, esp for projects with no required due date. When I mainly used paper, I did a lot of this with a pencil and a month-by- calendar, often torn apart to show three months at a time. I am now using mainly the Palm and so no longer playing around on the calendar with what completion of a project would be like if different parts were done by certain dates =/-. It is just too time consuming on Palm, even when using the desk top version. I have taken the GTD suggestion to put on the calendar only true deadlines and have not created an electronic substitute for tentative sequences and that is why I may be missing completion and initiation of some projects. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • #2
    Can you give us an example of a project that's not being initiated, and the next action you've determined for it? And are you (actually) carrying out a weekly review?


    • #3
      If I understand your post correctly, then you are logging onto the calendar the end result (which is having the project done by the completion date), but this step does nothing to address the N/A. The Next Action would be the first step you need to take to initiate the sequence of events that results in the project being completed by the proper date.
      I also think it would be helpful to tag each sequential N/A with a notation about the expected completion date.


      • #4

        I suggest you go back to paper. I do similar paper planning and find it very helpful. Once I get a plan in mind, then I enter the data into my electronic GTD system.



        • #5
          Why don't you look at a program like Project2Hand by Natara. It would allow this kind of playing.



          • #6
            Thanks for all and when I get through my present major project, I will try the Natara trial application. These are the projects that were perking along but the timing of the N/As did not correlate well with the deadlines and I got off track and missed deadlines:
            1. locating a huge number of documents that were on a list given to me, copying them and getting them to a reviewer.
            2. getting the house arranged for houseguests (got done but it delayed a trip).
            3. getting packed for a trip in time to leave and arrive in daylight.
            4. registering for some classes that I was considering taking (fortunatly a second flyer came in the mail and one was cancelled).
            5. Having an indoor and an outdoor projects list completed for someone who is willing to do them if I have the materials and tools on hand and specify the jobs.

            What is missing for me if that without looking at the paper calendar many times a day and rearranging the activities to support meeting the dealines, I just lose track of when things should and can get done. These are all things with mulitple N/As, some sequential and some independent, many if analyzed and organized can be done more efficiently.

            The weekly review just takes me forever (2 to 4 hours) and a lot of that is revising my n/a lists, breaking down projects, recording brainstorms.


            • #7
              Re: calendar play?

              This question poses a challenge for GTD, I think. According to my understanding of GTD, you choose items to do on the fly, based upon your intuitions. Now that I think about it, it seems as if this is one area that has to stay in your head, according to GTD - intuitions about priorities of actions, many of which may be part of projects with deadlines.

              It sounds to me like your actions and projects are too complicated to rely on your head for intuitions about priorities. Perhaps you could include on your lists fields for the factors that affect your decision as to when you should start or what should come first. The factors would probably be things like
              • Due date of the parent project
              • Number of actions remaining (or estimated time to completion)
              • Whether or not you're behind already (?)
              Outlook could sort according to these fields, which may at least help streamline the decision process somewhat.

              After reading this post, I realize that I would have a similar problem, if it weren't for Life Balance, which helps prioritize actions for me in a very helpful way. But I must admit I also have help from a large-format multi-month wall calendar with major project deadlines on it. There is a lot of redundancy in the information, but it helps me see the big picture of major projects with due dates in a way that a list just doesn't represent.



              • #8
                Thank you for your suggestions. The above ideas should be easy to integrate with my exisitng practice.


                • #9
                  I run a drum shop where we custom build drum sets for customers. Each set has it's own timeline depending on the extent of customizing we do and how much drying time is needed for the shells. There is no specific due date for each set although we shoot to get the product shipped within 2 weeks of the order. I track these in Bonsai and link the sub-tasks to my todo lists on my palm. This way I can track multiple actions for each kit and I can work with our contractors to keep from getting behind. In some cases we have to order additional parts and I have to track those orders and keep contractors informed of when they need to be back in the shop to finish the kit. I find Bonsai to be very effective for this kind of project management, especially when I need to add follow up due dates to the actions.