Incubate vs Calendar

Danica

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Hi all! I'm having a hard time understanding the difference between deferring (calendar) and incubate.

How do you distinguish the two?
 

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Danica

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Ok so I bought the kindle version of GTD and this is what the book says on page 305:

"incubate—To allow something to remain within a system without a commitment to take action yet, but to be reassessed at a later time. Reminders are usually held within Someday/Maybe lists, tickler files, or triggered-for-later calendar items."

I'm using Things 3 so this would go in Someday / Maybe. Hope this helps somebody who has the same question!
 

Gardener

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Hi all! I'm having a hard time understanding the difference between deferring (calendar) and incubate.

How do you distinguish the two?

I see it as the difference between Someday and Maybe.

I'm definitely going to plant some new herb beds in a specific place when the rainy season starts. (Defer/Someday.) Not every little detail is determined, but the project itself is pretty definite.

I'm thinking about what to do and whether to do anything, at roughly the same time, with the empty parts of my mostly-ornamental rows. (Incubate/Maybe.) I have yet to figure out even the basic parameters of what I want to do.

I could have that wrong.
 

mcogilvie

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Ok so I bought the kindle version of GTD and this is what the book says on page 305:

"incubate—To allow something to remain within a system without a commitment to take action yet, but to be reassessed at a later time. Reminders are usually held within Someday/Maybe lists, tickler files, or triggered-for-later calendar items."

I'm using Things 3 so this would go in Someday / Maybe. Hope this helps somebody who has the same question!
I use Things too, so maybe I can give you a more complete idea of the possibilities you have using it for GTD. Things has both die dates (deadlines) and start dates (when) for both actions and projects. A start date in the future makes an item disappear from views of current actions and projects, but it does appear in other views, particularly Upcoming. This can used to defer something for the future. However, you can also use this feature to tickle a possible action, which I usually formulate as a question. Suppose in January I have a revelation that my garage needs cleaning. This is a project, but I don’t want to do it in the winter- it’s too cold. So I put a project titled “Clean garage?” with a start date of March 1st. I don’t get to it this spring, and I don’t want to do it this summer, so I reschedule the start date to September 1st, except now I’m a little smarter: I change the entry to “Clean garage while weather good?” There is nothing wrong with using Someday for this, as long as you are reviewing it regularly. I tend to use Someday for things I might do, and start dates for things I want to at Least consider at a definite future time. The question to ask is usually “When and where do I want to be reminded of this?”
 

Danica

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There is nothing wrong with using Someday for this, as long as you are reviewing it regularly. I tend to use Someday for things I might do, and start dates for things I want to at Least consider at a definite future time. The question to ask is usually “When and where do I want to be reminded of this?”
Thank you
 

larea

Registered
When you incubate an item it becomes a new inbox item on the date you incubated it to that needs to be processed like any other item. You should only calendar an item if you are dedicating a time to work on something. It may be true that you are doing something with the incubated item that day (processing it) but you typically would not put every in item to be processed on your calendar. An example would be a flyer about an event far in the future. (a play you might be interested in, summer camp, a conference) There is nothing you can do about it now since registration hasn't opened yet and you may not be ready now to decide whether to make this a project or not. Rather than setting up a project now or an action to "decide whether to do this in 5 months" which would clutter up your system, you could toss it into an incubate file with an appropriate timing that will allow you to do the thing if you want to. Next time you see it, you will be better situated to either toss it in the trash or set up an appropriate project/task(s) to implement it. Which doesn't mean you necessarily need to take other action that day.
 

Michael Ramone

Registered
The difference between calendered items and incubated items (presumably you're referring to date-related incubated items) is not necessarily where they're put—both may end up in the same place after you clarify them—but what they mean to you. If an item is something I'm committed to do on a specific day or at a specific time, then I would put it on my calendar in a day- or time-specific slot. If it is something I'm committed only to review on a certain day (or after a certain date), then I would put it on my calendar as well, as I don't have a physical tickler file. As long as the eventual organization of my things reflects their meaning, I don't necessarily care where they end up.

I recently made adding things to my calendar a little clearer and easier by splitting up my single calendar in my calendar software into 3 separate calendars—day-specific commitments (yellow), day-specific information (blue), and time-specific commitments (red). One could call these training wheels, but I enjoy that they force me 1) to put onto my calendar only things that really go there and 2) to refine my entries’ wording and organization so they’re easier to understand later. I recently added a "Due Projects" calendar (also red), which holds project and subproject deadlines. Very useful.

I strategically chose those colors so that I could visually decode at a glance the commitments of any given day. A lot of red all-day events indicates a lot of due projects or subprojects, for example.

By the way, I've created a tickler function for my iOS devices that I've been using since the beginning of the year. I find it critical for incubating items to be reconsidered not necessarily on specific days, but after specific starting dates.

1. First, I created a calendar called "Tickler" and gave it a color that no other calendar was using.
2. Next, I created a shortcut that took all of the all-day events on the Tickler calendar for the current day and put them in my Things 3 inbox as individual to-dos.
3. Then I created an automation that ran this shortcut every morning at 1 a.m.
4. Finally, I hid the Tickler calendar so I wouldn't see it when I looked at my calendar.

Functionally, this is a digital version of the physical tickler file. Whenever I add an all-day event to a specific date on the Tickler calendar, it will appear in my Things 3 inbox for processing starting that same date. (For items I want to reconsider only on specific days, I just do the classic "put it in day-specific information" trick.)

I see your question as an instance of how the clarifying process may proceed differently for different people, but will often result the same organization in the end.

An example of this phenomenon in my own life is the creation of waiting-for items when I’m processing. I find that if I proceed down the clarifying diagram intuitively, I never reach the delegation box; I'm not involved in any situations that would ever cause me to. Instead, I find that my waiting-for creation often goes something like this: “No, I can't do anything about this until Person X does action Y/delivers deliverable Z. This is not actionable. I’ll put a reminder of the thing I'm waiting for on a list of things I’m waiting for.” In reality, I've organized how one would expect, but the clarifying process leading me to that was quite different.

I get away with such shenanigans by keeping in mind that clarifying is not the end; it’s simply the means to the end of organization, which itself is the means to the ends of reviewing and engaging. Whenever I feel like the standard clarifying process is too ambiguous or nonfunctional, I zoom out and consider that I’m merely in the 2nd stage of the whole process—determining what my inputs mean so that I can proceed and put them where they go—and that this stage has a purpose beyond being absolutely perfectly executed in itself.

In short, if my intention is to organize my stuff, I'll naturally clarify it without much of an issue.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
By the way, I've created a tickler function for my iOS devices that I've been using since the beginning of the year. I find it critical for incubating items to be reconsidered not necessarily on specific days, but after specific starting dates.

1. First, I created a calendar called "Tickler" and gave it a color that no other calendar was using.
2. Next, I created a shortcut that took all of the all-day events on the Tickler calendar for the current day and put them in my Things 3 inbox as individual to-dos.
3. Then I created an automation that ran this shortcut every morning at 1 a.m.
4. Finally, I hid the Tickler calendar so I wouldn't see it when I looked at my calendar.

Functionally, this is a digital version of the physical tickler file. Whenever I add an all-day event to a specific date on the Tickler calendar, it will appear in my Things 3 inbox for processing starting that same date. (For items I want to reconsider only on specific days, I just do the classic "put it in day-specific information" trick.)
I use the built-in tickler functionality of Things for this. The Upcoming and Deadlines views are very useful. I don’t have to mess around with Shortcuts scripting that way.
 

Michael Ramone

Registered
I use the built-in tickler functionality of Things for this. The Upcoming and Deadlines views are very useful. I don’t have to mess around with Shortcuts scripting that way.
I’ve started using the Upcoming function for actions already on on a list that I want to start later. What do you use to tickle things other than actions?
 

mcogilvie

Registered
I’ve started using the Upcoming function for actions already on on a list that I want to start later. What do you use to tickle things other than actions?
I'm not quite sure what you mean. I'm using the "when" date in Things so that actions (and also projects) appear in my Today list when I need or want them to. I don't extensively schedule actions in the sense of controlling or planning my workflow. A next action on an active project is typically available for consideration whenever I am looking at the context associated with it. A typical example of an action with a future "When" date for me is some recurring next action, like preparing a lecture for a course I am teaching, or checking the refrigerator before the trash goes out. I will occasionally defer a time-consuming home task to the weekends.

I have a tickler context, for when I want to be reminded of something on a date, but the action is unclear or undecided. Examples:
  • Cancel subscription to "Lemmings Today" magazine?
  • Start vacation planning?
  • Check with spouse re fall schedule
If there is a better context for an item than "Tickler" I will use it, but I don't spend a lot of time worrying about it. The important thing is that I see it on the day that I want to see it. Another use for the "Tickler" context is for information relevant for a project. I do enter date-specific information in my calendar as well, and sometimes in both places. For example, looking at my calendar, I want to see dates my spouse is on a trip. On the other hand, I also want that information in Things as well, for meal planning, and checking on airport transportation.
 
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