How does GTD handle Importance & Urgency ? (e.g when working on paper)

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Ship69, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. Ship69

    Ship69 Registered

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    Hello

    Remind me, exactly how in theory does the GTD method handle Importance an Urgency?

    I mean yes you can:
    - Put stuff into the Someday-Maybe list (albeit where it may get lost if there is too much stuff)
    - Schedule a delayed start day (using a calendar - but that gets bulky)
    - Or into the Tickler lists (folder system)
    - Or maybe you have lists for specific exceptional events (e.g. Travelling, shopping list)

    But of the stuff that is all "Do ASAP", what is the recommended way of handling greater urgency and/or greater importance...? Particularly if you, like me are working on paper?

    I am resorting to using a marker pen and drawing in icons... but it doesn't feel very GTD, particularly if urgency or importance changes. Moreover you may need to typex stuff out which can get v messy.

    Thanks

    J
     
  2. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    One thought: If I were using a paper system, I would probably have a dated list that filled the purpose of the future calendar and the tickler. I say "future" calendar because I might have a page for the current month and next month. In the weekly review I could go through that date list and put the dates that are in those two months into the calendar pages.
     
  3. Ship69

    Ship69 Registered

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    Can you say some more about that?

    So if I understand you correctly, you would have:
    1. A single page for stuff to to later this month
    2. A single page for stuff to do next month
    3. A full-on calendar held somewhere else
    ... Something like that?

    How would you structure the "later this month" page?
    What is the "date list"?

    Either way I don't quite understand the workflow you are suggesting. When would stuff be added/transferred etc?

    Fwiw, in the "2017 GTD® ORGANIZER" PDF they supply a full-on Calendar containing a week on 2 pages. Each day has about 8 lines but is divided into 2 columns: A) "Appointments" B) "Actions/Info"

    EDIT: I am now working out how many days of paper calendar I need to carry around with me, given that my main calendar is digital.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
  4. Castanea_d.

    Castanea_d. Registered

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    Urgency: if it is a task that must happen Today (or on some other specific day), it goes on the Calendar. Mr. Allen goes to some length to encourage us to save the calendar for such things (along with appointments, meetings, etc.) so that the things that genuinely must happen on This Day stand out.

    If there is a fixed deadline, in a paper system you could put a reminder on that date on your calendar that Item X is due. To be useful, you would then need to scan ahead in your calendar so you can see the impending deadlines, but we should be doing that anyway, at least at the weekly review if not more often. I work from a paper calendar, and I go to the trouble of keeping it at two levels: one that shows a week at a time on two-page spread, and another that gives a monthly view, which doesn’t get all of the detail, but does get my fixed deadlines, major events, etc.

    Importance: Mr. Allen describes how to make the decision as to what to do Right Now: Context/Location, Time Available, Energy Available, Priority (which I think includes both importance and urgency). At the point of doing the work, you are making the priority choices somewhat by intuition, which works because of the weekly review. The review hopefully keeps you sufficiently familiar with your task list (and especially your Projects) so that you carry through the week a sense of what is important, at least enough so that you can choose a Next Task by a quick scan of your calendar and task list. Your quick and intuitive choice might not be perfect, but if you are choosing between two or three tasks, all of them of about the same priority, you won't go far off track.

    Even the someday/maybe list (which is a godsend, one of the strong aspects of GTD in my opinion) needs to be part of it on some level – for me, rarely more than a scan-through at the weekly review. But that way, it is in the back of your mind, and the interplay of Context, Time, Energy, Priority might make some work on one of these items the right thing to do.

    Another thing I like: somewhere he says “Pay attention to what has your attention.” I have found that concept extremely useful. If something is important and urgent, it will tend to have your attention, and the GTD system will keep you from altogether forgetting about it until it is a crisis.

    [Edited to add] On the other hand, I suspect everyone's list -- not the "someday/maybe," but the main list of things to do -- includes a lot of things that are important enough to be there, but with no fixed deadline and not a lot of urgency. I know at some level that there are quite a lot of these that I will never get around to. But some of them will, over time, become more important to me, and some will slip back into the "someday/maybe" realm, or entirely off the list as something I no longer care about even a little. I vaguely recall somewhere in the GTD book that the dividing line between your active task list and the someday/maybe is in the Clarify stage: Is this something that I am realistically going to do in the next year?
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
  5. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    I think what @Ship69 is asking is how best to keep track of tasks that have been identified as the best ones to work on in the moment using a paper system. GTD offers no specific recommendations for that.

    The way I'd do it is to write those tasks on a separate sheet of paper. If something unexpected comes up that alters the context/time/energy/priority equation, you could simply toss out the temporary list. One disadvantage would be having to remember to cross off completed actions in two places but no system will be perfect.
     
  6. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I should make it clear that GTD does NOT command me to do this this way. This is just how I imagine that I would do it.

    As I imagine it, my binder/notebook would contain (among many other things, of course):

    - A Date List, of items associated with a date.
    - This month's calendar.
    - Next month's calendar.

    The format of the calendar would depend on the size of the binder/notebook. I'd prefer to have the whole month on one page, but that might or might not work.

    The Date List would be stuff that I want to remember to pay attention to by a given date. It wouldn't have much detail at all--it would just be the "don't forget" thing. So it might have, for example:

    - 5/12/2017--John Cleese tickets.
    - 3/1/2017-- Time to think about taxes!
    - 6/1/2017--Start thinking about autumn-delivery-only bulbs and tubers for the garden.
    - 5/24/2017--Fred's birthday.

    Every week, during the weekly review, I'd go through the list and, where appropriate, move items from the list to somewhere else. For example, if I'm doing a review on 3/5, I'd see "Start working on taxes." I'd create a current project for my taxes, and cross the item off the date list. If I'm doing a review at the end of April, I know that my May calendar page is in the binder, so I can add the John Cleese tickets to the May calendar and cross the item off the date list. At the same time I see Fred's birthday, I consider whether to create a project for getting Fred a gift, and I shrug and decide that I'm ignoring Fred this year, and cross the item off the date list.

    I notice the item about autumn bulbs and I don't take action, because that's two months ahead. But it does remind me to add a new item to the Date list.

    10/1/2017--Start thinking about spring-delivery-only bulbs and tubers for the garden.

    That's how I'm imagining it. Again, I don't use paper, so if I did try this, I'd probably discover things to change. For example, if the date list started getting really really long, I might have a "six months and beyond" date list that I don't store in the binder, for distant-future events. I'd probably periodically rewrite the date list, and when I did that, I'd move those distant items to that other list.
     
  7. aderoy

    aderoy Registered

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    Two ways to handle this type of 'future' items
    1. via the Tickler file. Place on a 3x5 index card then place in the tickler file for either the next month or the upcoming Friday (weekly review) as required.
    2. If using TimeDesign or TimeManager forms for context you can use the date column as reference for start date.
    Both require weekly review of all 'In baskets' so not to miss any items.
    Using the Tickler file seems to be forgotten or lost habit.
     
  8. petdr

    petdr Registered

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    What does "Do ASAP" mean to you? Stuff that you need to do ASAP when you have time or convenience or stuff that HAS to be done today, in an hour, by end of workday?

    My day-to-day system is on paper, a bound notebook. My lists are in the notebook as are the calendar pages for date-specific items.
    I have a new day page everyday where I take notes etc... also acts as my inbox for the day. At the top of this page, under the day and date, I list any time-specific appointments or tasks for the day, skip a line, then any tasks that HAS to be done that day.

    So in your example, if "DO ASAP" means it has to be done that day, I list them on my day page.

    If "Do ASAP" means as soon as I am able (but not today), I keep those items in my lists and mark them as below:
    * each item or task has a dot for a bullet point. I use graph paper notebook, the dot is placed on the side edge of the box, not in the middle of the box.
    * during weekly review, I convert the dots into a vertical line on the right side of the box (remember,I use graph paper) for the items I want to work on that week. The dot and line later become part of the box, see it? When the item is completed, I placed an x in the box (I tried using a check mark and the x for cancelled items but could never get used to it so I stayed with my x for done and lined out the item and box for cancelled). There's more to my checkbox markup but not directly related to your question so I'll skip it for now.
    * If during the day, things change and some items become urgent, I extend the bottom edge of the box to the left margin (basically an underscore extending from the left bottom corner of the box). This automatically makes the item stands out when I scan my list. If priority changes again during the day and something else take precedent, I draw a longer underscore from that box. You can use a highlighter but I don't carry a highlighter with me so the line markings work better for me. When these "urgent" tasks are done, I fill in or make one big x through all the boxes in that "bullet point" --- eg all 2-3 boxes in length if the item was an urgent one for that day.

    Hope that made sense.
     
  9. Ship69

    Ship69 Registered

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    What are each of: TimeDesing and TimeManager forms?
     
  10. Ship69

    Ship69 Registered

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    I only half-understand all that. To paraphrase you are of course writing by hand but:
    All actions start with a dot in the left hand margin. i.e.
    " . Task name" means this is a task
    " _. Task name"
    means "Do it this week".
    " [x]. Task name" means "Done"
    " ____. Task name" means "This is urgent".
    "________. Task name" means "This is no longer urgent".

    Something like that? Any chance of a photo?
     
  11. aderoy

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