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How to deal with Status Reports & Incorporate GTD

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  • How to deal with Status Reports & Incorporate GTD

    I have a Boss who would like a weekly status report (just started a new position will eventually go to a monthly status report)

    When I first read GTD I came away with do not assign due dates unless you can committ to them and they are hard and fast. (It causes stress and creates extra work)

    However, My boss would like to see what I am targeting for the next week and when I am looking at first getting to some of the projects he has assigned me. This will also help us "renegotiate" when things need to be readjusted.

    This information needs to be able to be printed out and have information like Title of Proj, Priority, % Complete, Target Completion. Right now I have this information in a stand alone spreadsheet. My tasks are managed via Palm i705 and MS Outlook. (Note I'm in a locked down environment, so Docs to Go doesn't work unless I send the doc home, synch and by then it has changed. [Eventually moving to Pocket PC to alleviate this problem]

    My question is "What is the GTD way to produce status reports?" I cringe each time because I am duplicating data. But I can't avoid it.

    Does anybody have techniques or additional info that guides you when you are doing this. I'm thinking this should work in with my Weekly Review. But what is GTD's view on assigning Target dates?

  • #2
    Due dates and Status Reports

    The Getting Things Done methodology is a program about managing your thinking for maximum clarity. Clear thinking provides for quick action. That's the whole premise. So, this system is predicated on making decisions early -- when you write things down, -- so that when you move to action, you don't have to waste time trying to figure out what to do -- you just execute against decisions you already made.

    It sounds like, in your particular case, due dates or target dates are a part of taking action, identifying projects and next actions on the front end, and clearing your mind for maximum productivity.

    Title of Proj, Priority, % Complete, Target Completion

    From my point of view, this could be added/amended during your weekly review. Remember, that weekly review is the critical success factor, during which time you’ll probably answer those four “topics” anyway. I know I personally re-negotiate my projects list based on similar topics as you have listed here.

    I don’t see here that you are required to due date the actual ACTIONS, but instead to give the “powers that be” an outline/sketch of when you will be done, and where you are on the path to completion.

    1) All the parts of the project that are described (research, write outline, etc) are part of the project plan. When I am working on a project, or with a client on a project plan, and there are lots of items/parts of the project "storming in the mind," I capture those. The mind mapping/brainstorming exercise allows me to capture the thinking while I am thinking.

    2) On a project list I will write down the project in successful outcome terms, using vocabulary that is more than about 60% believable, ie., "Submit proposal to supervisor." If that submission has a due date, I write that next to the project, on the project list.

    3) Then, I look at that project, and project planning I have done, and capture all of the independent next actions there. Those are then put on my actions lists (at phone, at errands, at computer, etc).

    I write down the next action (filling the bucket!), after completing one, ONLY if I don't do it right then. For example, there are times when I will begin working on a project, and just go from one action to the next. In those cases, I rarely (if ever) take time to write down the next action, I simply do it.

    THEN, if I am going to stop in the middle, that is NOT complete that project in that sitting, before I move from that setting, I will think about, and capture, the next action that would get me going again on that project; like a book mark gets me going in a book where I left off reading the last time.

    Good luck! Looking forward to hearing more!


    • #3
      Taking this to an extreme, do you have to include the time you spend preparing this vital document?


      • #4


        Thank you for the in depth detail. I knew GTD was a way of thinking..I just wasn't sure how I wanted to "think" about this. But your information has helped clarify.

        Even though not required I may still due date next actions as it is a simple click in outlook and I just determine if it will be done within this week or later. (It helps organize the list when I view it.) With the filters you can set up in outlook it is a very easy renegotiating process.


        Re: The question about time to prepare...
        He is aware how much time is involved. Luckily I don't deal with a micro manager.. to the contrary I'm out on my own and a tool is needed to bring him up to speed and to help me tell him what is going on the back burner (almost like an Agenda). As I said, I will graduate to Monthly status reports and that will cut the investment there. However, I am still wondering if it would take that much to synch it at Weekly review vs. waiting for a month and then catching up on all the entries.

        My hunch is it would be best to do it @ weekly review vs. creating a longer updating project


        • #5
          My first thought in reading your initial post is that the status report is probably a subset of your "Projects" list, with one or 2 additional information fields (due date, etc). These additional fields are admittedly beyond the basic GtD approach, but can be kept on the same list.

          When you do your weekly review, you can update your list, and give your boss her/his status report.

          I think Jason said this far more eloquently.