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Hard Landscape Examples

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  • Hard Landscape Examples

    I have read several time manangement books over the past year. I really like Getting Things Done and I am working to implement it with my palm pda.

    One thing I don't quite get is the 'hard landscape'. I know to put specific appointments with clients, doctors, school events, etc. on my calendar. What I don't know about is putting other items on there. In the book it says the calendar should hold 'day-specific and time-specific actions'. So, to me, setting the trash out at 7:00 on Tuesday morning is a day/time specific action. On the other hand, nothing is going to 'die' if I don't do it because trash is picked up again on Friday. So does it need to go on the hard landscape? If not, what do I do with that reminder?

    Also, what about work tasks that are time-consuming? I do a financial report on Tuesdays that takes me anywhere from 1-2 hours. It has to get done by Tuesday afternoon at 3:00pm. Is this a dated-next action or does this go on my calendar in a 2-hour slot for Tuesday morning?

    What types of hard landscape actions do you have on your calendar? I would like to hear from others. Especially those using pdas. I have read the article on how David uses his palm and I am following that method as best I can. Thank you!

  • #2
    Hard Landscape Tasks

    In addition to things like appointments, I do as you suggest and schedule blocks of time for myself for tasks that have a time specific due date. The weekly review on Friday at 4pm falls into this category as does things like, "Finish draft of R3.0 MRD". This is a task that stays on my @computer list until it is finished. This gives me the flexibility that if I do not finish the task in the time I have scheduled it is still waiting on my task list. This also helps me manage my time better by not scheduling meetings during this block of time I have scheduled.


    • #3
      I make fairly heavy use (using Datebk5 on my Palm) of calendar events that have a specific day but no time.

      For example, in order to track my ever-evolving schedule at work, I have either "At work" or "Off work" appearing as repeating untimed events on the appropriate days. I also have "take laundry to work" on Monday and Friday, since those are the only two days I work when the laundry service is at my location. Like your example about the trash, this is not something that will "die" (I can always wash those shirts myself), but I want the reminder.

      However, I don't list taking the trash out, just because it's sufficiently ingrained in my weekly routine that I don't need that reminder. So perhaps that's where I draw the line -- if I am likely to forget it, and I would be cranky if I forgot it, and it MUST happen on a specific day, it goes in the calendar.




      • #4
        Dates in the GtD System

        GtD appears to suggest that dated items go on the Calendar and anything else is undated. The question is what is meant by "Dates". In this context, I have found that Due Dates are not very effective, while Action Dates reflect a commitment to actually Do something.

        For example, if you have a payment due on September 1, you could write an undated ToDo: "Make Payment" and put a Reminder in the Calendar on, say August 25: Payment due September 1. The Calendar item is a commitment to deal with the Reminder - make the payment, schedule the payment, reschedule the Reminder, etc. On the other hand, you could simply make a Calendar entry: Make Payment. This would be a commitment to Do the action (make the payment) on that day.

        Thus, the Calendar is restricted to things that you have committed to Do on particular days. If you find that you are not Doing all the things in your Calendar, then you may be overusing the Calendar and might want to "harden" it in the future. If you find that your Calendar is too empty and your prospective days don't have enough shape or structure, you may want to add items to the Calendar.

        Time Management software(other than Above & Beyond) tends to be not dynamic and it is time-consuming to edit timed events as you go through the day, especially in the PDA. I have found it easier to use the PDA for hard lists (restricting the Calendar to "Must Do Today") and to use paper to create and edit free-form daily plans.



        • #5
          dating...doing...agreeing to next actions

          Dating Next Actions:

          I used to (when I used a paper-based planner) date (and sometimes even attach the time necessary to) the Action on the day I entered it. Now I don't because it takes a bit too much time to add that electronically, and I found I didn't need it. Also, I realized that by starting with JUST the next action, I often found myself going from action to action to action, in less time than I anticipated. AND, at other times, when I was interrupted, and could not work as long as I "planned," I simply captured the next action right then, added it to the list and went on to the other thing. (Perhaps review the "black belt management" section of David's book...)

          Right now (I just looked) I have about 240 next actions on all my projects. If you have more, you may need some other system overlaid onto the current program as you have done. Personally, when I get to a phone, I just want to see the outstanding "debts." (What have I told myself I am going to do at that location/with that tool?)

          If an action doesn't need to happen until after some date, I go to my calendar (NOT Next Actions) and I write something like: "Do I want to start thinking about taking on Project XYZ?" This gives me the freedom to forget about it for now, and trust the system will bring it back...

          If I know I’m going to need more time to work on a single next action, I’ll actually schedule it. Because I am calendaring “so little,” what I put on the calendar I trust to get done. It’s “hard landscape.” To me, that means that I’m not going to slide on the agreement I made with myself. For example, if I have “Draft article for coach’s corner” on my calendar, because I want to take at least 90 minutes to work on that, I will commit to that time and actually DO it. This differs from how I used to use my calendar as a list of “boy it sure would be nice” to do items that I always had to re-write on the next calendar page.


          • #6
            Jason - could you refer me to a page number or chapter? I thumbed through the book a couple of times ands scanned the index but I couldn't find the section you are referring to - thanks!


            • #7
              Black Belt Management...

              What is BLACK BELT MANAGEMENT?

              Get it all out of your head. Collect any “open loops” from your physical area and from Psychic RAM into one area.

              Decide outcomes and next actions. Process each item from the IN BASKET using the Workflow Diagram on Page 36 of Getting Things Done.

              Plan projects sufficiently to get them off your mind. Distribute your thinking about any “large” projects by creating mind maps, PERT charts or some other project plans.

              Put the results of your thinking (what we call “distributed cognition”) in a complete, current, total-life reminder system, which you review regularly.

              Define your work at the appropriate level(s).

              Trust your intuition on your action choices.

              Pages 10-11 discuss the idea of working from “zero base.” This, for me, includes dispatching next actions to the calendar or lists as soon as the action is defined.

              Pages 18-19 cover managing “action” as the main driver of getting things done.

              For me, black belt management can be summed up as: Identify what you’ve said yes to, and have that available to you at all times. The power of the next action decision is outlined on pages 244-248.

              *Note all page numbers come from Getting Things Done (hardback).