How to prevent a weekly checklist from diluting the emphasis of calendar actions?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Garrett Oreilly, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Garrett Oreilly

    Garrett Oreilly Registered

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    My partner and I host weekly D&D nights. Actions like ‘Scoop the litter box’ and ‘Clean the bathroom’ and ‘Take out the trash’ shouldn't be put on the calendar, but these actions effect a state of ephemeral cleanliness that makes their outcomes more beneficial if completed the day of, rather than a day or two before, our game sessions.

    David Allen mentions that creating a "If I have time, I'd really like to..." list from Next Actions is okay as long as it can be discarded in favor of more urgent matters, but how does that differ from a checklist? And if it doesn't differ much, how do I prevent checklists from diluting the emphasis of actions on my calendar?

    Any insight would be much appreciated.
     
  2. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    On behalf of D&D fans everywhere, I’d like to thank you for cleaning the litter box before game night. ;)
    Or at least checking it. And you want to check certain other things before you have people over, right? Food, drink, toilet paper. In an ideal world, at least checking the latter is NOT optional. Because I use a digital tool with the ability to defer next actions, I have these checklists surface a few days before having company over with a deadline of either the day of (for a weekend) or the day before (for a weeknight). If you are doing it with a pure paper system, than a tickler file would be helpful. Otherwise you have to decide when to act and put it on the calendar. If you have something that is genuineLy optional, write “(Optional)” in the entry. Remember, you are the one who gets to decide what information you see when.
     
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  3. thomasbk

    thomasbk Registered

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    Two things come to mind:
    1. Some actions happen automatically. I don't put "brush my teeth" on my calendar because it's always going to happen without a reminder. For me, tidying before guests arrive is the same. I know I'm going to put away dishes and pick up clothes without a reminder.
    2. If I didn't trust my habit then I would add a 30-minute tidying session to my calendar. I wouldn't clutter my calendar with individual tasks. The notes field can hold those or else I would know to check elsewhere like a chore chart. But least I've held the time to make sure it gets done.
    And to your question about how a "If I have time" list differs from a checklist, I don't have that list, but I think it's a matter of comprehensiveness. "If I have time" could have 20 things on it and maybe I'd do one every few weeks. A checklist is doing everything in one go. It's in service to a bigger goal like "pack a suitcase" or "file taxes." Neither of those examples would go smoothly if I didn't complete everything on their checklists. But 19 undone things on the "If I have time" list" isn't affecting anything else.
     
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  4. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    In this scenario, I would probably have a certain amount of redundancy:

    - I'd leave those housekeeping tasks as regular non-calendar tasks.
    - I'd put the ones that are most relevant to game night on a "pre-game-night checklist"--without removing them from their usual place. This is the redundancy.
    - I'd put an item on the calendar for "do pre-game-night checklist".

    When checklist time comes, if you're really busy maybe you just scoop the litter box and spend four minutes in the bathroom with the spray cleaner. If you have plenty of time maybe you do the whole checklist thoroughly. Then, whenever it's convenient, you go to your usual lists and check off whatever you got done.
     
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  5. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    Hi, @Garrett Oreilly. At the risk of sounding like The Old Man of GTD (I'm only 48, and I'm certainly not the most experienced person in the world at GTD, nor the wisest) I've struggled with this exact question. On the one hand, I've learned from experience that if I clutter my calendar with items that are not hard landscape, it does indeed lead to the negative consequences David Allen warns about (wasting time editing your calendar, and more important undermining your trust in your system and yourself).

    On the other hand, I've learned that answering the question "what would just die if doesn't happen at this time or some time today" is subjective. It depends on your values.

    In the abstract, you could miss all manner of deadlines and still not have those things "just die." You could get a report to your boss later than agreed because he or she might not fire you on the spot but simply have a lower opinion of your value as an employee. Maybe some people are OK with that. I wouldn't be, but other people might have different values.

    Or how about filing a tax return in the U.S.? For most of us, the deadline for filing a personal tax return is April 15 of each year. But you *can* file your taxes late. Some people go for years before filing tax returns (I did tax preparation for a couple of years; trust me, I've seen this firsthand). There are financial consequences for ignoring this deadline and therefore I haven't and would not file my taxes late by choice, but not everyone shares my values.

    So... do certain cleaning tasks belong on your calendar or would they dilute your view of your hard landscape? It depends on your values. If not doing these cleaning tasks would make you feel so uncomfortable about having people over that it would be a negative experience for you, schedule them either as blocks of time or as day-specific items on your calendar. There's no harm in that.

    If based on your values these tasks are "nice-to-do" on the day of your D&D evenings, you could create a checklist instead. I bet seeing "D&D night" on your calendar will trigger you to review the checklist and decide what cleaning to do that day.

    Or if you're using a software tool that supports deferred actions you could follow @mcogilvie's suggestion.

    So there's lots of ways you could do it. And the cool thing is that you get to let your values be your guide as to what "would just die" and is therefore hard landscape, and what's "good to do if I have time."

    I hope that helps. In the meantime this not-old-man needs to go yell at some kids to get off his lawn.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
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  6. Garrett Oreilly

    Garrett Oreilly Registered

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    I appreciate everyone's input! As I've only been utilizing GTD for a few months, I worry that implementing my own solutions to the edge cases might undermine the purposes of the system. I hadn't much considered the degree to which my hard landscape depends on my values, so I'll need to think on that.
     
  7. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    Well, for the record I wouldn't advise blowing off your boss or filing your taxes late. Those were just extreme cases to illustrate my point.

    As for "think[ing] on that," don't be afraid to experiment. If you try it one way and it doesn't work, you can try it another way.

    I've struggled with the exact same things you are now. Unfortunately, I did so before I discovered this forum. The nice thing is... you're not alone, and maybe we can help you shorten your learning curve.
     
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  8. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    Garrett; "state of ephemeral cleanliness" is so poetic :)

    First, consider yourself lucky to have a hard-calendar event that prompts you to do your housecleaning on a specific day. I have an @Saturday list that takes me about 2 hours to work through. However, it can easily be put-off if something better comes along :)

    If I had hosting D&D night on Saturday at 8pm in my hard-event calendar, I'd schedule my @Saturday for 6-8pm. This way @Saturday chores and D&D night are two contiguous events. While the former could start sooner that day, it can't start any later. The simplest way is to block of 6pm onwards in my calendar every Saturday night to do my chores and have fun with friends and 'significant other' doing something we all enjoy!

    I'd probably want to be in the kitchen cooking and the eating from 5pm -6pm. This way, my @Saturday cleaning can include my now messy kitchen. My house would be in that "state of ephemeral cleanliness" at 8pm and dinner would be fully digested so i could enjoy junk food and beer as I D&D!
     
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